Google Doesn't Get Platforms. What Doesn't Your Company Get?




In an all-too-keen instance of corporate irony, a Google employee this week sent what was meant to be an internal “memo” to his coworkers – right on up to Larry and Sergey – through Google+, and made the post 100% public by mistake. Whoops! At least when you accidentally “reply all,” your message is confined to the people in the original email list, right?

The engineer, Steve Yegge, has since deleted the post, but Danny Sullivan reproduces most if not all of the memo in a post on Search Engine Land. (The whole thing is interesting and I encourage you to read it.) The message, framed as a “family intervention,” is intended as a wake-up call for the powers that be at Google, alerting them that they’re missing something big: namely, they don’t get platforms:

That one last thing that Google doesn’t do well is Platforms. We don’t understand platforms. We don’t “get” platforms. Some of you do, but you are the minority. This has become painfully clear to me over the past six years.

Yegge says “one last thing that Google doesn’t do well” because on the whole, he thinks Google is doing things right – for example, treating employees well and fostering the kind of open environment where an engineer can send a critical memo to the whole company world and not get fired. However, he believes that this blind spot around platformism could severely hamper Google’s success as a company, if they don’t address it and quickly:

The problem we face is pretty huge, because it will take a dramatic cultural change in order for us to start catching up. We don’t do internal service-oriented platforms, and we just as equally don’t do external ones. This means that the “not getting it” is endemic across the company: the PMs don’t get it, the engineers don’t get it, the product teams don’t get it, nobody gets it. Even if individuals do, even if YOU do, it doesn’t matter one bit unless we’re treating it as an all-hands-on-deck emergency. We can’t keep launching products and pretending we’ll turn them into magical beautiful extensible platforms later. We’ve tried that and it’s not working.

The Golden Rule of Platforms, “Eat Your Own Dogfood”, can be rephrased as “Start with a Platform, and Then Use it for Everything.” You can’t just bolt it on later. Certainly not easily at any rate — ask anyone who worked on platformizing MS Office. Or anyone who worked on platformizing Amazon. If you delay it, it’ll be ten times as much work as just doing it correctly up front. You can’t cheat. You can’t have secret back doors for internal apps to get special priority access, not for ANY reason. You need to solve the hard problems up front.

I’m not saying it’s too late for us, but the longer we wait, the closer we get to being Too Late.

One could – if one was a Google hater – misconstrue this message as evidence of Google sucking as a company, being doomed to fail. But that would be the wrong way to read it. Yegge isn’t saying that Google is clueless and the rest of the big five (Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon) are not. He’s saying that this is one really important thing that they understand and Google still doesn’t.

However, there are major things that the other companies don’t get either. For starters:

  • Facebook doesn’t get privacy, even though that’s what they built their business on.
  • Microsoft doesn’t really get consumers as customers, though it gets corporations as customers (especially a kind of bland, one-corporate-culture-fits-all mentality that’s pretty common once companies reach a certain size).
  • Amazon, apparently, doesn’t get benefits or internal culture. (Yegge worked there for six years.) That means they're sacrificing the ability to secure top candidates.

What doesn’t Apple get? I’m not sure – Apple annoys the piss out of me but they’ve figured out how to cultivate an extremely devoted fan base who keep repurchasing its overpriced products whether they need new ones or not. So you tell me, what don’t they get? I’m sure there’s something. (They’re often picked on for not being open enough.)

But first, and more importantly, you should ask yourself what your company doesn’t get. Undoubtedly, if you exist at all, there is something you do really well. But what are you missing? What’s the blind spot preventing you from real (or bigger) success?

This is often an easier question to answer if you’re not at the top of the food chain. Sometimes it's hard to see or admit fault when you're the one in charge, so the big guns at your company might need an "intervention" too. Would they listen to you? From where you are, can you do anything about it?

More Internet Marketing Highlights

In the “Art of the Great Headline” department, see Get Elastic’s “10 Bizarre Things that Influence Customers Online.” I was expecting, you know, unexplained noises or kangaroo attacks, but really, these ten things aren’t that bizarre. It’s still good reading if you’re unsure what to test to improve conversion rates.

Also in the wonderful world of design, Randish lists and illustrates “12 Creative Design Elements Inspiring the Next Generation of UX” – stuff like floating product and the “interactive flourish.”

In a guest post by Trada’s VP of Marketing Bill Quinn, BoostCTR offers five helpful keyword bidding strategies.

Demian Farnworth publishes the Ultimate List of PPC advertising tools over at the Raven blog, including AdWords tools, budgeting tools and competitive analysis tools. (Thanks for including us!)

You can now +1 display ads. We’re one step closer to being GOOG’s bitch.

Have a good weekend!

Image: 1972 Biba Platform Shoes by Sacheverelle

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Oct 16, 2011

I am a firm believer that nothing is by chance. Furthermore an enterprise of Google stature and knowledge in my firm opinion, wouldn't let anything just slip. Google is the most trusted internet source, information supper hwy, they r the world wide web,& their key to success is our curiosity.After all knowledge is power especially when u are the endless sharing source! I'm sure like any larger than life company not all, if many employees are aware of the massive control and predictions Google is capable of.The company succeeds because in short, they are the winning team! Nothing makes you prouder or more loyal than being a winner!They see trends and shifts in every aspect and believe you me have not forgotten that "any publicity is good publicity". We as people love to see the humanity in companies and what better way than admitting to weaknesses in any form or better, an accidental admission to this NEW CULTURE CHANGE and Google lack of skills to keep up.   Bare with me! For example when Domino's Pizza failed at their first attempt on the social media "bandwagon", by not managing their Facebook fan page they not only failed at the attempt to connect in a different and trendy way with their consumers they exposed themselves to a tremendous amount of ridicule & negative publicity which had to be responded to in an extremely costly campaign to reshape their image as being a company that really wants to interact and listen to their changing consumers. Restarting with.....good old fashion marketing. Threw commercials and radio, the spending and apologizing begins! Which is great that they have taken such a huge step to gain their social media fan base back, now fully understanding the demand for this networking to succeed. Because they really stuck at improving,they will prevail. In all reality Domino's will not see even close to the ROI that could have been for years or if ever due to the initial innocent carelessness.    What my point?   All Google does is monitor patterns and information and by duplicating the same agenda of looking like they want to adapt to "A new modern culture" that in all reality is no new to them,they can gently and safely secure the outcome desired in a much more viral, productive,done for you manner and secure a the wide beneficial out come.                                                                                                  When I want my kids to listen, REALLY LISTEN THE fastest way to guaranty they react immediately the way I want them to is, IF I WHISPER! LOL! RIGHT! Even funnier is I have taught this tool to them in hopes they use it but developmentally they are at the point of trying to fight it& get frustrated at their lack of control when it comes to something soft spoken. :) Google see's companies hit and miss in trends and technoligy.In fact mistakes are easy to avoid when you the first to know what happening. The main concern is how much the people have control .Companies no longer are safe in controlling their image and revinue.Observing this inevitable change of hands from business controlling consumer, to consumer controlling business,Google waits for an opportunity,more likely when it's economically allowed to expose the fact "that we are now going threw a huge cultural change. "family intervention," not only does Google intentionally guide us were they want us to focus FOR WHATEVER REASON, they get all they need by how we respond to "UNDERSTANDING PLATFORMS",their gaining countless benefits.       Am I saying Google is evil and controlling? NOPE. I,in my extremely long interpretation ,just want to project that if people can learn how to benefit from this new culture development ,like any other human behavior, society and the economy will grow and change for the better in a rapid roar. If the time is taken to understand who will prevail with technology and communication advancements, you as a person will be able to foresee the new direction that is already in place and learn to optimize the benefits for what type of business u choose to be involved in. Hope my thoughts are useful or enlightening for someone! :) Take care and God Bless!                                                                            Tiff

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