Tag - mission

Why can't the billionaire genius CEO of Google tell us what his company does?

So Larry Page is a genius, right? He’s one of the inventors of Google, the search engine, the empire, the massive complex of algorithms and electrons that makes sense of the greatest collection of knowledge the world has ever know.

And he’s a billionaire. And CEO of Google.

So you might think he has a clue what his company does. And you might further think that he could explain it to people with much smaller brains than his.

You’d think wrong.

In the BusinessWeek story today on Google and Page, talking about his first year as CEO, they ask him a simple question: Google was once incontrovertibly a search company. But what is Google today?

The reply?

I think you have—I mean, what does it really mean to be a search company? I mean, even at that time, I think at that time and now, basically our soul is the same. I think what we’re about is we’re about using large-scale kind of technology: technology advancements to help people, to make people’s lives better, to make community better. Obviously, our mission was organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful, and I think we probably missed more of the people part of that than we should have.


First he’s answering a question with a question … a sure sign of confusion or prevarication (that’s fancy for lying). Then he says something confusing about “at that time” and “now” like “our soul is the same.”

But it gets worse. In the middle chunk, Page talks about “using large-scale technology” to “make people’s lives better.”


So Google now makes refrigerators? Medical equipment? Roads? Perhaps social housing? Wow. First confusion, then PR-speak about making people’s lives better.

It used to be simple – as Page finally gets to in the last chunk. Google used to be on a mission to organize the world’s information and make it accessible. That was understandable. It was a huge vision, and probably mostly unattainable, but most of us can agree they’ve achieved – are achieving – a huge chunk of that.

The prevarication or, more charitably, confusion, comes in when Google realizes that it is a big organism and big organisms tend to do and to want things that make them bigger, better, and more successful. The original mission is fine, organizations rationalize, but “no margin, no mission.” In other words, they start to get focused more on what is good for them, and less on what the great high noble goal that they originally espoused.

Nothing necessarily wrong with that. Companies have the right – within legal bounds – to try to grow.

But please, let’s be honest about it.

Or get Motorola to create a pacemaker that answers your email for you.

In praise of networking (or … WOW, this has been a crazy week)

My company recently shut down, effectively making me a free agent.

I was the senior manager, online media, for Canpages. I joined to reinvent Canpages.ca, a local search site that, despite looking like state-of-the-web-1997, was still pulling in 2.8M unique monthly visitors when I joined. I helped push that to 3.5M within 6 months, but the real reason I joined was a massive reinvention of the site and the service: device agnostic, mobile from the ground up, social baked into the DNA, gamification, you name it. Totally buzzword compliant 🙂

That’ll never happen now.

There had been some oddities, budgets not confirmed, contracts not signed. We were meeting on Monday last week and chatting about it. One of my colleagues had just said that we were probably being paranoid, when DING, into our mailboxes comes the dreaded all-hands-on-deck early-next-morning meeting announcement. On Tuesday the game was up and the dream was dead.

That afternoon I went home and started telling my network. Not everyone, just a hundred or so people in the Vancouver area. By Wednesday mid-day, I had 5 meetings set up for the rest of the week.

On Friday, I had calls from 2 others, asking for interviews in the following week. Keeping Monday for some blue-sky time, prep time for interviews, and one call with a recruiter, I had a killer Tuesday, with breakfast, lunch, and dinner meetings, plus a number of calls interspersed. And on Wednesday, yesterday, I had a call with the HR director of a very interesting company in the mobile space, and a *great* initial interview with a mobile gaming/social company, with a follow-up scheduled for next week.

In other words, I’m avalanched. All this without checking job boards, without putting resumes up at Monster, Workopolis, and so on, without actually applying anywhere, and without ever once printing out a resume and carrying it, cap in hand, to a company.

A couple of things are obvious from this:

  • networking works
  • networking rocks
  • job-hunting has fundamentally changed
  • you have to network BEFORE you need the network
  • having a good online reputation is UNBELIEVABLY important
  • there is actually a pretty hot job marketing here in Vancouver for web/mobile/social talent

My biggest challenge now is ensuring that I take the right opportunity … not just one that presents itself to me early in my job search. I’m fairly blessed in that I have runway to take some time to choose correctly.

The role I take has to be one that …

  • I am passionate about
  • I’m eager to get up and do every day
  • has a great vision
  • is in a hot space
  • has good future prospects
  • allows me to use my talents and interests fully

I don’t need a job. I need a mission. There’s a couple possibilities to do this in the startup space, a few with others and a couple by myself, and that’s an option I’m also considering. As always, I’m open to input and advice 🙂

And for those of you who I’m connected with already: let me know what I can do for you. Always happy to oblige!