Google’s Mid-Life Crisis

I’m not so sure that I concur with Kumar’s bold conclusion that the party is over at the Googleplex. The company is bound to slow downt but make no mistake about it, they are still an amazing cash flow generator. Their core business is highly defensible and while online advertising (search and display) will likely decline going through 2009, the drop won’t be as bad as in other segments and because display and search are not speculatively valued, a 20% pricing correction won’t be catastrophic.

The party is over. The company is moving onto the next stage of its existence and requires different skills than in the first leg of its journey. Her attention has also been too focused for years on PR than Google UI. And, while she is known for throwing her weight around inside Google, there are questions as to whether she has the business acumen for the next leg of the journey.

[From Marissa Mayer’s Attempt To Put a Bolder Face on Google Falls Flat]

As has been commented in many places over the years, Google is living up to it’s reputation as a one trick pony. As they trim their product and service portfolio it is evident that Google pixie dust is not a success guarantor and even in advertising we are seeing that dominance in search does not translate into print and radio success (both having been shut down in recent months). Having said that, I’ll take dominance in their core market over mediocrity across multiple markets any day.

Kumar states that Google is going to require different skills to move the needle from here on out, but that’s true for every business today and historically it has remained constant that companies grow and materially change as a result of that maturity. Very few companies in the history of technology have retained founding teams as they experienced the phenomenal growth that Google has achieved, that Google has done it this long is a testament to their strengths and not any weakness.