Google is the new Microsoft
No, I don't mean Google is the new overly aggressive, cut-throat monopoly on the block. What I mean is that with the IPO hype and dominant brand in search, Google is the new #1 on the block, and that's going to have a price.
People here in Silicon Valley hate Microsoft, it's almost a given. And they don't just hate Microsoft because it's done bad things -- though it has. They also hate it, on principle, because it's #1. Just as I described in one of my first posts that much of the world hates the USA because it is so big. Rational or otherwise, it's a natural impulse.
Google will be distrusted and feared more than it deserves as long as it is at the top. And of course, it won't be a perfect company. Not only do all companies make mistakes, but Google has announced how it wants to take lots of risks and make lots of big bets, assuring it will also make lots of big mistakes. Not just technical and business mistakes, but social ones.
The reaction to GMail, which I wrote about earlier, is yet another taste of this. There are issues in GMail that need addressing. But our generally reasonable colleagues at EPIC have reacted to it way too strongly and quickly for a not yet released product.
Of course, many would say they dream of the day they are so big that people distrust them on principle. They would love to have such problems. And in that thought lies Google's potential salvation from this problem. They can embrace the irrationality as one of the costs of being big. Yes, it adds to the cost of doing business, but the great thing about being #1 is you can afford it. Realize that the other guys wish they could get so much negative publicity.
This doesn't mean you can't be bold, though it does make it harder. But that can be a challenge rather than a barrier. And it can make the company a better company. Google is a better company at not-being-evil® than Microsoft, and that will stand it in good stead, but they will find it's not enough. The #1 company has to not only not be evil. It has to be good.