21. January 2016
Source: The New York Times
There’s a little parlor game that people in Silicon Valley like to play. Let’s call it, Who’s Losing?
There are currently four undisputed rulers of the consumer technology industry: Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, now a unit of a parent company called Alphabet. And there’s one more, Microsoft, whose influence once looked on the wane, but which is now rebounding.
So which of these five is losing? A year ago, it was Google that looked to be in a tough spot as its ad business appeared more vulnerable to Facebook’s rise. Now, Google is looking up, and it’s Apple, hit by rising worries about a slowdown in iPhone sales, that may be headed for some pain. Over the next couple of weeks, as these companies issue earnings that show how they finished 2015, the state of play may shift once more.
But don’t expect it to shift much. Asking “who’s losing?” misses a larger truth about how thoroughly Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft now lord over all that happens in tech. Read the rest of this entry »
31. August 2015
Source: Fast Company
GIVEN THE VAST AMOUNTS OF DATA GOOGLE HAS ON US THROUGH OUR SEARCHES, IT’S A WONDER THEY HAVEN’T DONE THIS SOONER.
It’s been the subject of a feature film, a main theme of a best-selling book, a source of endless speculation and analysis (yielding 21 million results on the search “how google hires”), and a holy grail-like quest for some two million hopefuls per year.
It’s the hiring process at Google.
While the search giant has been known to deploy quirky recruitment tactics, from banners and billboards blazed with a mathematical riddle aimed to entice engineers or the brainteasers about golf balls or school buses. The latter tactics, admitted Google’s head of people operations, Laszlo Bock, were “a complete waste of time,” while the former didn’t net the company any new hires. Read the rest of this entry »
23. August 2015
The harsh workplace that a New York Times story recently described plaguing Amazon represents an old-fashioned business model that will almost certainly disappear soon.
This week, a New York Times profile of Amazon’s treatment of employees has provoked a debate about the future of the workplace.
The article claims that Amazon’s professional employees are well paid and work on world-changing projects, but are pushed to the breaking point in a survival-of-the-fittest climate where they tend to burn out and leave quickly.
Readers, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, say they are appalled by the anecdotes of insensitivity in the Times report. But the controversy has raised the possibility that the underlying business model portrayed in the article is legitimate or perhaps inevitable. The Times article quotes an ex-Amazon employee who says CEO Jeff Bezos has envisioned a “new workplace: fluid but tough, with employees staying only a short time and employers demanding the maximum.” Read the rest of this entry »
14. August 2015
Source: The Economist:
Conglomerates are back in fashion, but only the best will thrive
FEW management fashions have waxed and waned quite as dramatically as that for conglomerates. From the 1960s to the 1980s business gurus praised conglomerates such as ITT of America and Hanson Trust of Britain as the highest form of capitalism. Today they routinely dismiss them as bloated anachronisms. Companies should stick to their knitting; investors should minimise risk by investing in a portfolio of companies rather than backing corporate megalomaniacs. Peter Lynch, an investment guru, talks about “diworsification”. Stockmarkets routinely apply a sizeable “conglomerate discount” to diversified companies.
To judge by this week’s events, the mood has shifted again. Warren Buffett has been steadily and almost single-handedly restoring the popular appeal of conglomerates. And the positive reception given to the latest deal by his investment vehicle, Berkshire Hathaway, shows how he has succeeded. On August 10th the group said it would buy Precision Castparts, a maker of aerospace components, for $37 billion, in the biggest deal in Berkshire’s 50-year history. Mr Buffett boasts of running a sprawling conglomerate that is “constantly trying to sprawl further”. Read the rest of this entry »
11. August 2015
In a surprise announcement Monday, Google co-founder Larry Page said the company’s leaders are turning it into a subsidiary of a new holding company called “Alphabet.” Page will serve as Alphabet’s CEO, with fellow Google co-founder Sergey Brin as president; Google’s current vice president of products Sundar Pichai is taking over as CEO of Google.
The news is momentous—and also a little confusing. The question now is, why?
That Google is no longer just a search company has been evident for a long while. Though its mission has always famously been to organize all the world’s information, the company has increasingly gotten into more and more disparate lines of business—when new ventures were businesses at all, that is. Beyond selling ads against searches—it’s core moneymaking venture—Google is making driverless cars, beaming Internet signals from giant balloons, delivering high-speed Internet access, redefining television, making phones, and even trying to cure (or significantly delay) death. Read the rest of this entry »
4. June 2015
Self-driving cars and smart contact lenses may seem like moonshots now, but they’ll help the company remain successful, chairman Eric Schmidt told investors on Wednesday.
Google shareholders may criticize the company’s moonshot projects like self-driving cars and smart contact lenses as big wastes of money. But chairman Eric Schmidt says the futuristic projects guarantee Google’s future success.
Schmidt, speaking at the company’s annual shareholder meeting Wednesday, defended the experiments as necessary for creating new and potentially blockbuster businesses. They may not seem relevant now, he said, but they will eventually as technology advances and circumstances like the rise in diabetes make them critically important.
“Most companies ultimately fail because they do one thing very well but they don’t think of the next thing, they don’t broaden their mission, they don’t challenge themselves, they don’t continually build on that platform in one way or another,” Schmidt said, according to Business Insider. “They become incrementalists. And Google is very committed to not doing that. We understand the technological change is essentially revolutionary, not evolutionary.” Read the rest of this entry »
30. March 2015
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Start by hiring the right people, says Laszlo Bock, then give them freedom
“Honestly, work just sucks for too many people,” says Laszlo Bock, head of human resources at Google Inc. That, he says, is why he is so eager to give away the lessons he has learned in the course of taking Google from 3,000 to 53,000 employees since his arrival in 2006.
Mr. Bock’s evangelical zeal has many expressions. He has a new book out April 4 called “Work Rules!” (Note the exclamation point.) He frequently speaks at conferences on both coasts, including one hosted by Google itself, called re:Work. (Note the provocative typography.) And he advises a startup, called BetterWorks, which is putting some of his ideas into practice by turning them into software to which companies can subscribe.
When Mr. Bock speaks, people tend to listen. He is essentially the godfather of “people operations,” a term for the modern version of human resources invented at Google that has spread to countless other tech companies.
“Whether you’re talking about manual trades or computer science and teaching, there’s a sense that ‘I just gotta do my dumb job’—but it doesn’t have to be that bad,” says Mr. Bock, who speaks with the congenial urgency of a TED speaker or TV chef. Read the rest of this entry »