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Archive for February, 2011

Great Innovations in the Past Century

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

1921: Insulin discovered.

1932: Prototype atom smasher gun invented in California. Unfortunately does little more than chip away at particles, leaving nuclei intact.

1939: First atom definitively smashed by scientist in Berlin.

1965: Moore’s Law posited. One of Google’s co-founders later refers to it as a “management innovation,” primarily, because Intel would create a corporate infrastructure dedicated to living up to this “law” of rapidly increasing processor capacity.

1970: Pepsi introduces the 2-litre pop bottle.

1985: New Coke.

1998: Google founded.

1999: Swiffer launched, ending humanity’s futile struggles against household dirt.

2009: Zynga releases Farmville, eclipsing the capacity of previous entrants Farm Town and Barn Buddy to facilitate time-wasting at work.

2010: Soft drink companies release beverages in “tiny” 7.5 oz cans. Original Coke bottles were tinier, however, at 6.5 oz.

Sources of the “I hired a crappy SEO” syndrome

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Some observers – some Googlers included – are going pretty easy on J.C. Penney for being the latest big company to fall “victim” to black hat SEO techniques.

And the ensuing tips on how to separate the wheat from the chaff are still too soft on the whole issue, as pointed out by Lisa Barone in this excellent piece. Like Lisa, I think the advice stinks. It’s coming from people who have been burned before by failing to do due diligence.

To add to Lisa’s suggestions, here is my take.

Right off, you’re never going to get people to admit that what they really did was start to like the aggressive promises and aggressive results they achieved, so they looked the other way when it came to the decision to look the other way at increasingly aggressive tactics.

If you do that for a company you own or control, and it blows up in your face, you lose money.

If you happen to be the gambling type, maybe you are one of those companies that invests in throwaway domains or throwaway ideas, and you aren’t too worried about the consequences. That’s your own personal risk profile.

While by no means a universal law, business owners with tightly-controlled companies, who have a low risk profile, do not typically knowingly hire black hat SEO’s.

Managers dabbling in SEO, by contrast — whether through ignorance, laziness, or an inappropriately aggressive stance — may take outsized risks.

Needless to say, SEO is mission-critical for many companies. If you fall out of favor with Google, goodbye online visibility.

Just as common as marketing managers doing the SEO vendor search, is the generalist outside advisor or web development layer who is involved in the vendor selection. Maybe they have their own ideas about what vendor selection means. If you were hiring a graphic designer for a mural, what’s the worst that could happen? If you didn’t like how it looked, you could pull the plug. You’d be only out the money for the mural.┬áBut you wouldn’t hire that way for an encryption technology firm. The higher the fallout risk, and the more technical a field is, the more due diligence you should do, and also, the less specific direction you may be qualified to give the vendor once they are selected, due to that complexity.

Sometimes, wanting to rise to that challenge, someone in “IT” wants to outdo the previous SEO strategy regime, so apply their dangerously little knowledge to the effort.

In most of those cases, this is not only a failure of knowledge or a matter of being outsmarted, but a failure of accountability and leadership. Notice the pattern of finger-pointing, as opposed to any “mea culpas,” in these situations where the site gets penalized by Google?

Source of the “I hired a crappy SEO” syndrome

Let’s take it as given that there are shady people and firms in the world. There is also Bernie Madoff. I can’t help that. But just as investing your life savings requires due diligence on your part, we need to move beyond excuses and finger-pointing at “shady SEO’s” who “burned us”.

Here’s a list of key internal sources of these snafus, with only the beginnings of a suggestion or two on how to do better.

Hmm, on second thought: I can boil the list down to one thing.

1. Managers and firms looking for SEO improvement are typically too specific in their implementation deliverables. They too often micromanage the order of work, the type of work needed, and the tactics employed, all in a field they purport not to know well enough to work in directly! For some reason, a specific type of link-building has become de rigueur as a hard-wired “how much will is cost to build x links on x PageRank sites” deliverable, even though this was already ceasing to be a novel or productive tactic (especially on its own or in the wrong hands) at least five years ago. What’s more, when it comes to taking several bids for this very specific deliverable, a responsible, strategic SEO agency partner will always lose out to an irresponsible vendor. Always.

One simple solution to this overly tactical approach, which we”ll call “S,” is simple!

S. Before doing anything, engage a 360-degree-thinking, well respected SEO strategy agency for a comprehensive review or audit of all facets of your search visibility. This isn’t a panacea, and sometimes we in the industry are guilty of getting too technical and tactical in such audits. So then you need to ask more questions, engage a lead strategist for an hour here, and an hour there. Since it’s hard to find those people willing to do that work for a mere hourly rate, it can be cheaper to hunt them down at the major search conferences and find good, meaningful conversation somehow.

If that isn’t quite specific enough to the link-building and reputation management objective, engage a reputation building expert with some SEO knowledge for a package of training sessions so that your in-house culture can become aware of all the things the company and its existing fan base can be doing to increase its overall reputation (including but not restricted to inbound links).

And of course, put aside mega-tactical concepts such as “linkbaiting”. Good attention is good attention. Life is “linkbaiting”. Some attention gets you more links than other attention, sure. But you succeed if you think about life as one big “linkbait”. Not by calling in a Ninja linkbaiter to drop some links into your life in a one-off.

If you’re just looking to find a great firm to partner with over time, then think of it that way… a partnership! Not a list of vendors in a spreadsheet. How to nail down a productive partnership with a firm that will help your organic search results (among other things)? Here are some suggestions.

How to reach out for true SEO expertise

a. Marketing managers: accept personal accountability for professionalism, vendor selection, goal-setting, and process, not just credit for results.

b. Go with a marketing agency — of whatever stripe — that educates, inspires, informs, and connects. If they can’t do everything you need with SEO, keep them around to work with or evaluate the firm you do choose for that.

c. To provide one example — consider that your company’s reputation is paramount and that specific instances of that amount to “getting mentions” which inevitably place you on a sound footing indirectly for higher rankings on relevant keywords. You could run out and be purely tactical and chase an algorithm from six years ago — hiring a firm that specializes in this — or you could take a broader viewpoint and hire a hybrid firm that keeps you out of hot water while working on tactics. What am I talking about? Well, SEO is a very young industry, littered with tacticians who work completely divorced from professional standards (even mentioning a “know your client” rule leaves many SEO’s blinking blankly). While SEMPO and other groups want to change that, the fact is, it’s not the most grown-up culture. By contrast, public relations firms, for example, have been around forever, so maybe they understand a bit more about the subtleties of true “outreach”. Now, do a better job of marrying that sensibility with how things work on the Web (as Eric Ward has done since 1994). But realize that even as enlightened practitioners implement them, “link building campaigns” are far harder to achieve than they were 10+ years ago when these promotions were novel and the targets were more receptive. Yes, there is grunt work involved (such as anchor text that you’d be better getting than not), but if you see off-page SEO as completely divorced from the real-world strategy of getting out there and telling your story, then you’ve just shifted all your strategic accountability over to an SEO firm. And remember, you’re supposed to be accountable for this project?

d. To add to this, you can’t 100% outsource reputation building. Or if you do outsource it, the process needs to be collaborative as opposed to “farmed out”. (You can much more easily outsource performance marketing tactics like PPC.) When it comes to your online presence, creating content, fostering community and responses, etc., sustained campaigns work. “Links” don’t just get “built” by rote, like a handyman builds a storage shed in the backyard.

e. In an SEO capacity, kick the tires hard if you’re also getting SEO advice or implementation any firm that focuses on “building websites” or “ecommerce platforms.” Yes, your site and your cart drive the business, but SEO is not where such firms’ DNA typically lies. Which means they will either outsource, hire the best available talent they can afford, or make it up as they go along. (Often varying from project to project.) Because there seems to be a lot of pressure to claim all expertise is in the same shop, even when it isn’t, I’d actually be very receptive to a firm that says they partner with a reputable SEO firm — and explains who it is.

f. ┬áSustained partnerships lead to continuity in moving forward on whatever aspects of your presence online relate to SEO, thus getting away from the “it’s only SEO if our deliverables list said it was” syndrome. I am pretty sure, for example, that your overall visibility and traffic will grow if that page on custom pottery designs keeps growing and adding customer feedback (star ratings and comments from real human beings). This creates signals of true customer and user interaction with the page in relation to certain links or SERP’s; it creates fresh new content; and it may get you into alternative forms of visibility (review aggregation) outside of the Ten Blue Links. “Gee, that doesn’t sound like the sort of thing an SEO firm would do for us,” you say? Well… (1) Hmmm… exactly — if the mutual pact between clients and vendors evolves to define only discrete make-work boondoggles such as low quality link building, then you leave out a lot of potentially good stuff; (2) Hmmm… exactly… a lot of the best ideas come from doing what’s best for your customers, the community, and the general Web user, and if you’re not always thinking about that, then what are you doing?; (3) A sustained partnership with solid experts will always bring to light good ideas like this and give you a permanent, qualified sounding board for various alternatives.

Google? What gives?

Google could have handled this better, by being more directly critical of the violating company — and I don’t just mean the SEO firm. By helping violators of Google’s guidelines to easily recover from their past mistakes by calling out SEO firms in general as the “real” source of the problem, Google isn’t helping the situation a whole lot. If there is no significant, long term downside to spamming Google, then it becomes a free-for-all. Firms “accidentally on purpose” hire black hat SEO’s, then come crying to Google later, knowing who Google will side with. Or they put too much performance pressure on rank and file marketing managers and generalist outside advisors, without any stated commitment to professionalism in process. And so … after the slap on the wrist and the pat on the head by Google, this morphs the race for high rankings into too much of a subjective matter of letting known brands off the hook, while continuing to penalize and ban unknowns. That runs directly counter to Google’s claims of algorithmic, never-manipulated, search results.

Fake-company RFQ’s: unethical or actually illegal?

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

This week, news has surfaced that an Ottawa-based startup did damage to established B2B vendor SuccessFactors by obtaining extensive private business information from them through the ol’ “fake customer” subterfuge. This wasn’t the usual casual fakery. Allegedly, the startup went to the trouble of creating a fake company, complete with website and 500 fake employees, to better pose as the “client”.

Petty theft and grand larceny alike are becoming all too common in the world populated by software, systems, intellectual property, and original contributions to an industry.

Certainly any B2B vendor — us included — are quite familiar with requests that don’t seem quite sincere, elaborate processes that seem designed to pump us for information with limited chance of landing any real business, etc.

It’s actually heartening to realize that where an offending company conspires to take this to unreasonable, harmful levels, it’s a legal issue, not just a simple matter of being slimy.

None of us like having our work and business assets stolen. I suppose that justifies Google’s emotional reaction to the recent Microsoft-stole-our-SERP’s sting discovery. (But they should take them to court, if they have a case.)

Talking with a fellow original information creator this week, about smaller, more petty theft, this week, I sympathized deeply.

Plagiarism, it seems, is something we laugh at. And in his anecdote, you could only laugh as well as cry. Two prominent SEO’s were presenting to a large audience at a prestigious conference last year. My friend got up to ask a question. And that’s where they began getting edgy. They reassured the audience that this guy might have an agenda because he’s a fellow SEO. He then cleared his throat and thanked them for the promotion of the tool that he also recommends. And for the nice mention of his agency, since his agency’s small transparent logo had been left on the slide. And all the slides. They had been “rushed,” apparently, so running out of time before the big day, they’d stolen his entire 30-minute presentation, lock, stock, and barrel.

They were sufficiently unashamed to make a joke about it, onstage, at a subsequent conference, when someone was trading tips about how to find expensive research reports without paying for them.

There will be no legal case, but it lowers my opinion of the people involved.

When it comes to folks posing as clients so they can get proposals, tips, or even business model advice for themselves or to pass on to a friend, it feels like this makes up something like 10% of the RFQ traffic in our industry, and I suspect in others, as well.

I experienced something of a compound version of this recently. A pretty cool-seeming prospect came to us with the usual type of project request, and we went away to think about it. One thing that seemed truly odd was that the VP Marketing mentioned that he didn’t even know “you could hire an outside agency to manage this type of thing.” Really. Although their request seemed relatively genuine, I couldn’t help but think he was holding something back, and that the conversation felt like it was powered by a little more play-acting than usual.

Still, I’m relatively trusting. Although not as trusting as some people, because I’ve seen so many hundreds of RFQ’s and patterns are patterns. It’s good that most are sincere, else I’d be insane by now.

It was only by accident that I Google the founder of the company, frankly, as I did my due diligence over a weekend. From there, my eyes widened as I discovered the lawsuit alleging that the firm originated as a conspiracy to port intellectual property from their former employers over to this new company. They paid a good chunk of change in a legal judgment, but were exonerated from the majority of damages, upon appeal.

What was harder to take was the long video excerpts of the actual court depositions, posted online by their bitter former employer. There was the dissembling, the creative lying, the ludicrous lying, the evasion… the downright comical lying. At one point, the thuggish refusal of a defendant’s legal counsel to follow procedure, offering loud yet vague threats of personal harm to the opposing counsel. “Call the bailiff!,” he thundered, at one point.

To quote the Japanese television producer in the Seinfeld episode about the pilot of George being made Jerry’s butler: “Is this common in your legal system?”

Some obscene emails from the founder, relishing a conspirator’s work for the original information theft, were rolled into this not-so-pretty package.

Anyway, I was glad we got that sorted out. We declined the project.

Regarding more conventional examples of fake clients, it always gives one a mildly nauseated feeling to go through several stages of an RFQ process where the meetings and calls become increasingly elaborate, but appear … it’s hard sometimes to put a finger on how and why … completely fake (as opposed to legitimate processes that may, of course, result in no sale or even no project being launched). But what SuccessFactors endured was not only worse than most examples of this, it was more deliberately plotted, and will give them more ammunition in court.

So, there are multiple variations on subterfuge in today’s B2B world, it seems. There is theft of ideas that goes beyond legitimate sharing and borrowing, to entire chunks of other people’s content being passed off as one’s own. There is approaching competitors or vendors with insincere RFQ’s — or in some cases, protracted efforts to build business relationships — in order to pump a good company for private information on false pretenses.

Finally, there is the “half-hearted M&A ruse”. Of course, when serious acquirers go into serious talks, no one is immune from the difficult decision as to how much information to share. If a serious, legitimate acquisition comes along, then any selling company will have to build a relationship and eventually share information.

But beware of smaller companies and nosy folks who may want to simply open your books and dig into your client list, for directly competitive purposes, with no funds or intent to acquire. A friend of my friend above had this happen. Not only did a large, legitimate acquirer come along later, but the smaller company that had nosed around earlier nearly killed the deal by casually sharing negative information with that bigger company and trying to talk down the valuation. At this point there was nothing even to be gained from such spiteful chatter. It’s simply the case that some people like to run intelligence-gathering schemes, and brag about what they come up with, almost as a hobby. It’s a great way to lose friends.

It is disheartening to think that these various behaviors are widespread, and merely slimy. It’s actually encouraging to realize that taken to certain extremes, they’re illegal. And serious examples are not all that widespread, fortunately. Perhaps, indeed, because they are illegal.

Is paying legal judgments just a cost of doing business? Is it even a deterrent to the individuals who cook up such schemes? It should be, given the inconvenience of paying judgments, shutting down a company that may be bankrupt from paying the judgment and legal costs, starting new businesses, etc.

The price is likely to be worse than just financial, and it should cause conspirators to think twice. Your name will be repeated a lot, and not in a good way. In a worse scenario, your depositions will be posted online, and whole groups of people will get together at work to watch them, with bowls of popcorn.

Mark March 29 on your calendar. That’s the date of the court hearing of Halogen’s motion to dismiss SuccessFactors’ claim.

Five People Who Have Way Too Much Power

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Platforms. Progress. “The user experience.” The wisdom of crowds. “The network is the computer.” A link “is like a vote”. You “don’t own your brand anymore.” Always On. “Privacy is dead. Get over it.” Don’t be evil. Everybody’s connected.

These types of statements characterize the mostly-hopeful, mostly-progressive flavor of digital culture. While most of us will agree that major online media and technology companies and the technologies they leverage may have a dark side, it’s typically felt that the good outweighs the bad. No doubt it does. There are only a few really well-known critics who beg to differ.

Malcolm Gladwell has been absolutely pilloried of late, merely because he has argued that the impact of Twitter and other social media has been neutral (not negative) on social progress and revolutionary change.

Nick Carr, who most recently wrote The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brain, is more or less marginalized. But more to the point, though – Carr makes few ad hominem arguments. He criticizes systems, cultures, and technologies — not individuals.

Both critics are witness to the fact that there really is a narrow band of what you can and cannot say in approved digital culture circles. Free speech? Hmmm.

Elsewhere — in our political systems, for example — we criticize individuals, their policies, and their arbitrary power grabs all the time. Arguably we do this at the expense of meaningful policy discussion, and we go overboard in our attacks on individuals.

By contrast, in digital circles, we often expect less personal accountability from powerful individuals than we should. In online business — while there may be gossip here and there — there is rarely much criticism of individuals. Little wonder: individuals are touchy, and we might need to do business with them sometimes.

But abuse of power is no less ominous in these circles than it is in government. We have no constitutions to protect us in this realm, to speak of. So in fact, we’re relatively defenseless.

Based on the ownership structures (and other institutional properties) of our major technological gatekeepers today, some individuals seem to have outsized power as gatekeepers in their own right. They can enforce editorial policies while hiding behind “the algorithm”. They can snoop into private data, while claiming they don’t. They can tell their companies which projects to work on. They – like the old media – can make decisions as to what gets prominence, and what does not. They can help some companies and hurt others. They can help friends. They can fund companies that compete with their partners. They can hire 1,000 new employees who compete with their supposed partners. And so forth.

For many of these decisions, it’s appropriate to call them company decisions or organizational decisions. But can the individuals right at the top — the few people in charge — put their stamp on things? Why are we shy about saying this?

Is it because they wear t-shirts and let people bring their dogs to the office?

Here are five individuals who have uncommon power to shape what information we consume. Indeed, too much power. I’m not saying this is the list of the top five most powerful people in the world, or technology, or anything else. It’s just a list I came up with.

1. Hosni Mubarak. OK, I cheated. I added a “political” leader. He’s on this list for obvious reasons, irrespective of technology. But then he went and shut down the whole Internet in a relatively modern country like Egypt, proving that totalitarian rule is not too far away for any of us, at any time… and vaulting him to the top of my list. Institutional reform is a must.

2. Mark Zuckerberg. Mr. Zuckerberg and company have created a remarkable global phenomenon. There is no disputing Facebook’s importance. But if the company’s cultural cues come from the top, will the many instances of flippant approaches to personal privacy give way to a respectful view of users? It’s doubtful.

3. Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia. Although Wales’ importance seems to be waning, there are no other major figures that you can associate with Wikipedia. It’s always going to be hard to forget that he told his new girlfriend he’d polish up her profile on Wikipedia — while they were dating — and then changed it back when they broke up, and she put up some of his used clothing for sale on eBay. A classy bunch, to whom you no doubt would be happy to cede total control of what counts as truth or fiction.

NOT: Michael Arrington, TechCrunch. TechCrunch has served as a kind of gatekeeper for technology startups — and a useful one — for several years. Among other things, the Crunchbase Profile offers a fantastic resource, and the TechCrunch 50 creates a lot of excitement about and among high-tech startups. Here’s why Arrington doesn’t make my list, even though he has a lot of power. First, hard-hitting journalism. Second, transparent editorial stances: it’s Arrington standing behind them. Third, he runs an editorial organization like an editorial organization — no hiding behind “the algorithm.” With power comes responsibility. Someone willing to wield it in a transparent manner gets to stay off this list.

4. Gabe Rivera, Techmeme. Techmeme, by contrast, plays a game similar to Google News or Google in general. “It’s not me, it’s the algorithm.” This blog has managed to eke a few posts onto the Techmeme page here and there, so sadly this is biting the hand that feeds (see above, this is why people rarely point fingers of this nature). But Rivera pretty much controls Techmeme and thus, has a lot of say as to what information you digest, and also a lot of say as to who has a lot of say. Techmeme not only seems to be bent on having us all digest every minute development in phone technology, but they constantly feature a favored clique of commentators. This has been exacerbated by the recent addition of hand-picked “tweeters” who get their tweets featured on the Techmeme home page. The rest of us, clearly, are chopped liver. Is it just me or does Rivera have a lot of opinions and relish his gatekeeping role? He pretends not to. Anyway, put him on the 2011 “ones to watch” list!

5. Konrad von Finckenstein, Chairman, CRTC (Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission). von Finckenstein may just personify what is wrong with Canadian telco monopolies and regulation of same, but I just had to get a dig in at the CRTC. The CRTC is so powerful, it’s been difficult to bring healthy foreign competition into the marketplace to shake up Rogers and Bell, the main oligopolists. And consumer-friendly regulation for permissible pricing plans, such as the facilitation of unlimited data plans and the like, keep getting squelched by the CRTC. The Supreme Court has weighed in recently to overturn the federal cabinet’s attempt to overturn a couple of CRTC decisions. The Court correctly noted that Cabinet does not make law, so the CRTC decisions must be upheld. If the CRTC is to be undone or if legislation needs to be made or amended, a long-term full-scale legislative process must happen. Was the federal Conservative Cabinet just posturing, knowing full well that its consumer-friendly noises would not come to pass? What kind of discretion does the CRTC have, and what process does it use in coming to its often arcane regulatory decisions? It’s all murky to the consumer. Also murky is whether there is truly anyone in government who can come to power on a simple promise like cutting down on crazy roaming fees and overpriced data plans… or whether there is anyone in mainstream politics who maintains sufficient research expertise in the new economy that they can forge creative policies as opposed to creating old economy jobs by the same old politically-motivated pork. What does any of this have to do with the CRTC Chairman? Hard to say. It may be stating the obvious that we consumers take a dim view of “regulators” who work overtime to prop up oligopolists and fend off healty competitive pressures.

And finally….

NOT: Anyone specific from Google. Google is the company with the most — absolutely enormous — power as an information gatekeeper today. Pointing the finger at one person his hard, though, in part because of the brilliant accident of the leadership triumvirate. Reviewing the record it really does seem like that created some balance in the flavor of specific decisions. Will this change with Larry Page at the helm? It might.

Do you have additions to the list? Disagree with any of the above? I’d love to hear your comments.

Google-Microsoft Search Copying Charges: Are We Done Here?

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Last week, in the middle of the hysteria over Microsoft being caught Google-aping by a clever Google “honeypot” sting scheme, I was wondering if I should write a post about whether Microsoft would “wriggle out of” this one.

As the dust settles, though, the controversy seems like it was over a relatively minor issue. And that leaves us with a quizzical feeling about the whole thing.

Above all, the strange thing about it was the decision (and insiders will likely tell you, “decision” may be a bad word for ill-considered communications episodes like this one) to make this into a public calling-out, mediated by the familiar members of Google’s public face and related trade journalists. “Running down the hall to tattle on Microsoft,” indeed.

If it’s a violation of anything but some arcane spirit of good technology innovation, then the appropriate route is to go hard after the perpetrator in court. Why not do that?

As for that spirit of good technology innovation, and trying to prove a point: proving that Microsoft is good at aping (mostly legally, sometimes illegally) other technologies would be proving a point no one would be likely to miss. Indeed, not a few of us have more or less internalized a form of acceptance of some of Microsoft’s greater contributions to our working lives. Offices and professionals have run in a consistent environment backed by Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. — none ideas particularly original to Microsoft.

Does Google copy things? Sure. Not search results, exactly. Google, though, is highly skilled at basic mimesis. I’ve always held that type of accurate copying to be some kind of signal of intelligence. All great composers started first by playing others’ music, over and over again.

Does Google sometimes do that copying in a way that seems overly aggressive to those who seek to defend their means of earning a living? No question.

Even critical journalists are prone to buy too far into Google’s history as one of relative fair play. For example, they might word a bit about the Overture patent lawsuit as “Google having even been accused of…” without remembering to mention Google tacitly admitted violating Overture’s patent with a whopping $300 million payout to Yahoo (in stock which would today be worth close to $1 billion). The patent system is stupid, but anyway, point made.

Google owns YouTube, which has made huge strides, but it’s worth pointing out the company has historically shown spotty respect for copyright content.

Does Google copy things? Do they study competing businesses with the intention of copying them? Well, of course. Lots. I wouldn’t expect otherwise. Ideas in general come from somewhere.

Along with build, iterate, and iterate some more based on customer feedback, there is also “hang back, look at what third party companies’ features are most compelling and urgent in the marketplace, then build those.” We’ve certainly seen that in some areas of AdWords, for example.

One entrepreneur I know runs a marketplace for a certain type of professional services, making money on listings from sellers. He told me that for a time, his site was inundated with visits from Mountain View. And a short time later, much of his approach and interface was copied when Google launched something similar.

The problem is, the little guy gets copied, and he just has to hope to survive. If he calls out the copycat in public, he gets crushed. And since there is really no solid legal case, all he would have been doing would be railing on about the “spirit of technological innovation,” anyway.

Google has a little bit of an issue with Microsoft encroaching in one area of its business, while Google sets out to put Microsoft out of business in several other areas? Google tries to take the skirmish public in order to win public support and maybe convince more potential hires to join the cooler of the two companies?

Pardon us for not whipping out the hankie.

Big guys should act “bigger” than this. Google hasn’t been bullied in the schoolyard by a larger, meaner foe. So what was the point of coming crying to us?

 


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