Life After Google: A Slow Fall from Grace
On my plane to California for my Silicon Valley jaunt, I ended up falling into the clutches of a 50-year-old woman named Mary Johnson.
This may not mean much to you, but in my life she is now the Mary Johnson. It was yuanfen all the way, which is the Chinese word for a fatal attraction that brings two people together to change the world (or at least to fuel a new daily prophecy).
Attracting my attention is her sweep of dark hair and in her hands a book about Bill Campbell called Trillion Dollar Coach. A legendary former Columbia football coach who died in 2016, Campbell befriended Steve Jobs and ended up as an inspirational figure at Apple and Google as a member of the companies’ boards.
The book’s authors are my old pal and Google/Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt, his sidekick Jonathan Rosenberg, and Google Product VP and Director Alan Eagle.
Campbell must have been a charismatic guy. Blurbing the book, among other luminaries, are Tim Cook of Apple, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, and current Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
Reading over Mary’s shoulder, I read a sample of his wisdom: “Listen to people with your full and undivided attention — don’t think ahead to what you’re going to say next.”
Then, “Believe in people more than they believe in themselves and push them to be more courageous.”
Makes sense, it’s the Agora way.
Unlikely Monopolies Take a Tumble
Mary turned out to be a former IBM sales exec “leaning in” after 29 years with “Big Blue” to take a job at Google. She was on her way to Mountain View to sell Google’s “cloud datacenter services” to the healthcare industry.
Sensing the possibility of a book sale, I describe Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy. After she promises to pick it up, perhaps at the Compass Book Store in SFO, we plunge deep into a conversation about family, cloud computing, Google, IBM, HL-7 (which she informed me is the communications protocol for interoperable medical records), artificial intelligence, faith, HIPPA (the Federal medical privacy law), and Anthos — Google’s new hybrid platform for multi-cloud computing.
Combining on-premise with off-premise or public cloud applications, Anthos could accommodate hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare institutions that need to comply with the rigid privacy rules of HIPPA without paralyzing its mission to serve the public.
Mary told me that her four kids had been ecstatic to hear she was moving to Google, the world’s leading brand of the mind. But many of her children’s friends had not even heard of IBM.
I told her she was moving to the new IBM. Now at its peak, Google was about to begin a long, slow decline into the kind of bloated oblivion that IBM now represents.
IBM’s error was to give up its industry leadership in computer architecture, semiconductor wafer fabrication (chip manufacture), disk drive technology, and even artificial intelligence as “Watson” entered its dotage. IBM is now a giant consulting conglomerate.
Increasingly an R&D colossus in Alphabet soup, Google is giving up its leadership in search to Amazon, which now dominates searches with a specific purchase in mind. Google is threatened by ingenious new search engines on the horizon and by the ever-expanding move to smartphone and voice search. Google still gets nearly 90 percent of its revenues from advertisements that no one wants to see. These are not ads but minuses that clutter up your smart phone and consume 30 percent of its bandwidth costs.
Now Google faces an imbecilic campaign against it by always merit phobic governments in Europe and the US — grilling it as a “monopoly” and suing it for sex discrimination. Google even asks for trouble by withdrawing from a Pentagon AI contract because of a brief blizzard of complaints from a few members in its ranks. Now it’s withdrawing from a collaboration with Huawei in AI because of unnecessary US government pressure.
Google can’t seem to please anyone these days. Perhaps it needs to find another avuncular football coach with common sense to replace Bill Campbell.
I put Mary on a Caltrain to Mountain View, with a friendly prophecy that she would soon be moving on to Life After Google.
Editor, Gilder’s Daily Prophecy