The Google Question
Preface (Added March 2016) — This post is mainly aimed at the tech non-believers, those who think we are merely in another tech bubble. Currently, the 2nd, 3rd and 6th largest companies in the world are software companies. The 1st largest certainly writes a lot of software.
The Original Post
No, I’m not talking about the crazy hard interview questions Google is known to ask potential hires. Nor is this the common question of what will Google possibly do next? (although that is an interesting one) The Google Question I am asking is simply: how many times a day do you say the word “Google”? 4, 10 or 15? More or less? Maybe you think you go days without even saying it (and you’re probably wrong). Aside from attempting to quantify your use of this esteemed word, you may be asking how this question is even significant. Well, Google has become an integral part of our lives as internet users. This much is obvious. But let us harken back to the beginnings of Google as a humble search engine. While Google’s reach is now far beyond this search engine, the revenue and capital that have powered its growth were a direct result of this game changing software (and others like Gmail, Adwords, Chrome, Android, etc.).
So why all the emphasis on software? As many of you already know, software is the future. All the entrepreneurs working to build the next big software hits surely see the trend. Industrial incumbents being toppled by software wielding “disruptors” finally see it too (adapt or die, right?; maybe take a page from GE’s book). But software is more than a core determinant of the future or an all consuming beast. Those that create useful, valuable software will then be able to build out the companies that effectively decide and control the future. They will posses the capital clout to innovate internally as well as make strategic acquisitions (think Facebook here → even if it falls out of favor they have WhatsApp, Instagram and whatever else Zuck wants). Those that don’t will be singing “Back When” by Tim McGraw as the lament over the competitive advantage they once had.
Google is an amazing company but it is certainly not alone in its rise atop the shoulders of software. Maybe a slight outlier but there are many other historical software companies including the likes of Oracle, SAP, and VMWare. And who I am to forget Microsoft. For these firms, especially Microsoft, software is every bit as much of the present or even past successes as it is the future. These companies were ahead of the game and reaped the benefits. While these firms are software producing companies, all companies in the future will have to be prolific software users (they mostly already are). I’m talking mobile enabled, insight rich, cloud software at the core of businesses across all fields. For software doubters, Google’s presence in the dictionary should be a hint to reconsider. Software takes little capital to build yet its profitability is practically limitless. If you want to rule the world, software is the way in. Just ask Google.
A lot of this is reiteration of Software is Eating the World by Marc Andreessen. While this essay is over 3 years old, its predictions could not ring truer (aside from the promising outlook on Google’s Motorola play). This post is a reflection of the impact that essay and others like it have had on me, as a college student observing the constantly changing world and searching for opportunities.
Google’s market cap: $398.04 Billion