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Forum: Google

Eric Schmidt of Google gave a very interesting talk at PARC. The first half of his talk was about information movements and the second half was anecdotes/information about Google. Schmidt started off with a comparison to electricity: it started off as a big boom, then it became a utility. Similarly, it started off with thousands of companies, and then became very few. Schmidt argues that all big bubbles have followed the model of thousands then few: railroads, auto, dot com. To me at least, this seemed hand-wavy: the auto industry, for example, has a huge parts and support industry around it, and railroad/electricity are inhibited by infrastructure - a company doesn't have to own Internet backbone to produce a product or service.

The funniest anecdote he gave was about the "bias" of Google News. He was giving a talk and someone in the audience asked him what Google's slant was when it displayed articles. Schmidt tried to explain that a computer selected the articles, and thus there was no slant, but the audience member insisted that every news source has a slant. As Schmidt tells the story, he went to the researchers/engineers that were responsible for Google News and asked them if it were possible that Google News had a slant. As it turns out, the researcher that created the program is Indian and put in two biases: (1) International news is favored, and (2) cricket. I had actually noticed (2), because it seemed improbable to me that there would be a cricket sports link everyday on the front page.

Another funny anecdote he had was when he was making a point that cost drives everything. When Google was still at Stanford, they needed to build server casings. What did they use: legos or duplos? Duplos, because they are cheaper.

More stuff below and in the extended comments.

Abstract:
Eric Schmidt, Google Talk
- "Scarcity to Abundance Drives Everthing Tech"

03-06-03.forum.jpg

Notes:
Electricity Comparison
- Big boom, then went to utility economics
- All big bubbles have followed this model
- railroads: thousands of companies, now very few
- auto manufacturers: thousands, now few
- dot com: same
- no more bubbles for IT, "last bubble"
- Google penetration overlays electricity adoption
- All big movements are driven by creating access to information

Next big movement will have to have same qualities
- 802.11 networks?
- Web services not big enough
- small personal devices with petabyte storage?
- Information everywhere: Digital Walls
- DRM will control the next revenue cycle

Anecdotes:
- 20% of queries are mispelled. 2 people at Google developed spelling corrector. 500 ways of spelling Britney Spears

Story of Google server farms
- point: cost drives everything, free is better
- started with free servers from Stanford
- used Duplo blocks to build server casing
- used corkboard to prevent fires (disk drives on top of CPU fans)
- small 120V fan for cooling server rack
- caster wheels on servers to allow them to be rolled away from bankrupt data centers

Walking the fine line of personalization
- pushing ads into web sites themselves, match page content
- toolbar
- misuing personal information is evil

Google News' bias
- Audience member in Chicago asked what Google News' bias was
- Two biases: (1) International, (2) Cricket (researcher is Indian)

Bottom-up management
- display a list of projects to engineers and researchers with high, med, low priority assigned to them
- engineers and researchers select the projects they want to work on
- small teams of 3-4 people. google news, froogle both 3-4 person teams
- Schmidt's only role is to "call meetings"

No new innovation coming from corporations, only universities (anymore)
- Schmidt worried about lack of investment in IT/computer research budgets. Budgets flat, while biotech investment rising
- Corporations focused on doing what they did last year
- 22 year-olds without assets are driving innovation

Advertising
- extremely inefficient today
- millions of pop-ups not being click on
- broadcast TV
- old guard worried about new, more relevant advertising

- when PVR use hits 30 million, traditional TV advertising revenue will decline
- PVR market will hit 30 million users in 2006
- Big opportunity for whoever figures out how to come up with new advertising schemes for these users

- Internet demonstrated that there are a lot of weirdos
- Google allows weirdos to advertise to weirdos (e.g. Monkey hats and Bird poop ads)
- Google is a quick way to figure out what advertising works
- only ads that get clicked on are advertised
- End user is the golden goose. Have to make products user-centered.
- Many search engines were advertiser-centered

Founders important in maintaining companies vision
- Keeping companies model from anti-user technology
- don't sell placement
- Relevance and personalization most important goals
- Google not really doing personalization, yet

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This page contains a single entry from kwc blog posted on March 6, 2003 12:18 AM.

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