Society has no need for me to be critical of or snippy with either Google or You Tube. Adam Lashinsky at Fortune Magazine has handled that for me. In a snarky piece on Friday the 13th, Adam took everyone to the woodshed.
You all know I think that paying $1.65 billion (in whatever form) for a company less than two years old with unremarkable technology is insane. Accepting that money, is not. Lashinsky really pounds on YouTube for not really knowing what is going to happen to them. These two under-30s are about to pocket hundreds of millions of dollars after taxes. They don't care how YouTube will fit into Google. They don't care if they will be "leading the revolution." They don't care how many takedown notices they are currently processing.
At six percent annual interest, 100 million dollars is worth $11.50 a minute or $685 an hour (including weekends and holidays) every minute of the year. They will have each, some multiple of that.
They have, in less than two years, entirely created the engine that drove this purchase. If YouTube goes to hell, they can build something else, travel the world, buy a small country, or become meth heads.
The subtext of this article is interesting though, and Google should really take notice. The subtext is that Google is a huge corporation that has eaten YouTube and will change it to fit its vision and its culture and its needs. The subtext is that Google is evil.
Of course, Adam seems to think that at least YouTube Chad Hurley will fit right in with the evil.
Hurley, on the other hand, just might go far in the corporate world, should he choose to stay there. As the CEO, he's an on-message kind of guy, the kind of executive who's comfortable (or at least effective) giving the same answer he's given scores of times already, no matter what question you ask him. As a result, what he says is well-coached and of limited value, a skill that should please his new masters to no
Wow. Adam's been hitting the coffee pretty heavily.
So maybe Adam has been, but the evil Google mindset is catching on. There is a perception that Google is hungry. They want to eat talent, they want to eat content, they want to eat whatever isn't nailed down that Yahoo or Microsoft might be interested in. The perception is that Google is no longer interested in real innovation, they are interested in control.
Is this perception true? I don't know. But I am seeing a rapid shift towards it.
So think about this. Two years ago, everyone loves Google and there is no YouTube. Now things are different.
Google needs to seriously watch their backs. They have the same hubris that Yahoo had before there was Google. If Google wants to stay in a disruptive mode and not become the establishment. Buying YouTube is not disruptive. You can't easily acquire disruptive.
YouTube by itself is coherent. Flickr by itself is coherent. Disruption requires focused energy. Disruption requires clarity of purpose. When you purchase disruption that energy is dispersed amongst your other holdings. The energy fades.
So it is not surprising to me when Adam notes
"There's a lot of things that need to be figured out," says Hurley. "On our side nothing will change. If anything, our service will improve. They've built a great product. They'll decide how we fit in."
This will actually be interesting. Hurley says YouTube's integration into Google is yet to be determined. He says he doesn't know to whom he'll report or who Google's point person will be in dealing with YouTube. This from the guy who wasn't selling his company three weeks ago and who hasn't given a moment's thought to his newfound wealth.
Hurley is saying, "I have been taken from my very controlled culture and plugged into a much larger one." Google met his demands of over $1.5 billion. No one knows how this is going to work out. No one ever does.
One thing is certain, YouTube will change. Maybe it will become more popular. Who knows?
It's a multifaceted $1.65 billion dollar gamble on Google's part.
- Will the further diffusion of purpose at Google have an impact on Google?
- Will the inclusion of YouTube in Google confuse YouTube members?
- Will the deep pockets of Google encourage new legal action?
- Will the focus on YouTube continue to take attention away from Google's myriad of under utilized and unfocused applications?
- Will YouTube energize Google?
- Will YouTube's community services spread throughout Google and provide coherence to their offerings?
- Will the people keep coming to YouTube supplying Google's advertising group with mega revenues?
- Will the fact that Google is supplying more and more content create suspicion of their search results?
The list could go on and on. The length of the list is an indication of the number of critical risks involved in this sale. But in the end we know three things:
1. Chad Hurley and Steve Chen are rich
2. Google beat out Yahoo! again
3. Google has a whole lot of money
Other than that, transition plans, coherent product offerings, good business practices, thoughtful growth are apparently incidental.
Photo: Wikipedia Photo Commons