dark monochrome picture created by AI of large buildings with a smaller building in front

The Innovators Dilemma – Google

This isn’t a post about AI, and chatGPT has a very long way to go before it becomes factually useful, if you want to see a recent experiment I did with it, see this thread of mine on twitter. Until then it’s best described as “Mansplaining as a Service.” I did consider posting this post on my “still there, but atrophying tech’ blog”, but I never post, and hardly anyone ever reads, so here it is.

[The original version of this post included the assertion that Praveen had twice been rejected by Google after interviews, Praveen tells me that I got that wrong, I’m happy to correct.]

I’m personally not convinced that I want a strong google back, I’ve spent way more time than I would want to dodging personal data collection etc. At least conceptually Google is better than Facebook, so there is that. I still use many of Google services and avoid Metas.

In this Medium/blog post[1]https://medium.com/@pravse/the-maze-is-in-the-mouse-980c57cfd61a, Praveen Seshadri, who had twice rejected two opportunities to join Google, finally became an employee through the Google Cloud acquisition of his company, AppSheet. He discusses, what ails Google.

In my time at both IBM and Dell, I participated in both small and very large acquisitions. I was an executive in a number of them. Very, very few became much of anything, certainly nothing like RedHat(which I wasn’t involved in) has become at IBM.

Acquiring companies make acquisitions for a variety of reasons, from the strategic to competitive. Sometimes they buy companies to acquire their patent portfolio; sometimes just to get access to their customer lists and databases; sometimes to kick start a new initiative. However, as Praveen describes, it is a tough road for acquired employees at the new company, and it requires a massive effort by the acquirer to make the acquisition meaningfully useful much less profitable.

One reason acquisitions fail is when large companies have a specific team or department who handles acquisitions. It makes sense to have the accounting, legal and personnel management skills needed to make a large acquisition happen, all in one team. The problem though, is like other teams, or divisions in large companies, if the incentives for that team are year to year, rather than long term, all they have to do is make the acquisition happen, not make it successful. They move on to the next acquisition, and it’s someone else’s opportunity.

In pretty much every other aspect, Praveen’s description of what ails Google is in fact another great example that could have been included in Clay Christensen’s 1997 book, “The Innovators Dilemma”.

If “The C Programming Language” by Brian W. Kernighan, Dennis M. Ritchie is still compulsory reading for programmers, and I have no idea, then Christensen’s “The Innovators Dilemma” should also be[2]https://claytonchristensen.com/books/the-innovators-dilemma/.

Update: Feb. 18th, 2023 corrected Praveen / Google details.

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