Monday, April 30, 2007

The Algorithm is Being Ignored

I went to an open house event at the main Google campus in Mountain View, CA, last week. It was hosted by the Partner Solutions Organization division. A friend who works at Google suggested I go, even though he has no idea what the PSO group does. Neither did I, so I figured I’d take the free meal and the free information.

I’ve already been to the Google campus several times by now (invited by actual employees, of course). It was somewhat amusing to read the email instructions that said, “Event will take place at the Tunis auditorium in Building 43” and actually have a rough idea of where that actually was. Google has surprisingly lax security by the way – if you’re in Mountain View looking for a good meal, don’t know anyone at Google, and are short on cash, dress like an engineer and try to mingle your way into their cafeterias. You’ve probably got a 50-50 chance of getting in.

When I arrived, there was already a crowd. I did a quick count of chairs, and estimated that they were expecting maybe 200 people. Mind you, this was just one open house event for the PSO group out of several that they’ve been doing for the last couple weeks, all over the world. From what I understand, the PSO group isn’t even that big compared to the rest of Google, so basically there are hundreds of people applying for possibly a handful of positions. Google really is growing by insane amounts, and it does seem like everyone wants to work there too. As someone put it to me, “Google is the black hole of silicon valley”.

The place filled up in no time. They gave some presentations, all moderately informative, and then had a Q&A session, where they actually were throwing free T-Shirts to people asking questions. I felt like I was at some surreal convention event. People asked some fairly serious questions too. Well, except that one guy that was trying to be funny and ask about the quality of the free food. Cherish that free shirt, buddy. No, it was not me.

I noticed an odd air of arrogance in the tone of some of the Google speakers. I don’t think it was on purpose though, it was just a by-product of their crazy amounts of success, so in many ways, it’s perfectly deserved. I visited Microsoft more than 10 years ago on an interview tour, and I have to sadly confess, the feeling I came away with was that Google is at the moment very similar to a young, energetic, still-viable Microsoft. They’re rolling in success, and feel pretty invincible. Places like AskJeeves should really just throw in the towel now and save themselves the trouble.

I thought about this more while I was filling out the online Google employment application form the next day. They ask you for your SAT score, by the way.

3 comments:

Ken said...

Hey Dan, yesterday on 101, I saw a billboard that said something like "the algorithm killed jeeves." I assumed it was a Google ad and found it pretty obnoxious.

If it's not a Google ad, it's very confusing. I should probably stock up on bottled water and canned goods, because it sounds ominous.

If it is a Google ad, why are they so happy about beating Askjeeves anyway? That's like Nintendo crowing about how the DS crushed the Gizmondo.

Dan said...

Ken -- actually that's the joke of the title. Those billboards are apparently part of an advertising campaign for...askjeeves.com (now known as just ask.com). They're trying to rebrand themselves away from the whole AskJeeves name.

I too saw those billboards and had to google (hah) around to figure out what company they were for. Talk about silly subtle advertising...

Ken said...

That's maybe the worst ad campaign I've ever heard of.

I just did a search (on ask.com) and other people are assuming that it's an ad for Google as well.

NICE WORK JEEVES.

How about killing your ad agency? Clearly, they suck.