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Wired: Google's Larry Page on Why Moon Shots Matter

     
6:20 pm on Jan 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Larry Page lives by the gospel of 10x. Most companies would be happy to improve a product by 10 percent. Not the CEO and cofounder of Google. The way Page sees it, a 10 percent improvement means that you’re basically doing the same thing as everybody else. You probably won’t fail spectacularly, but you are guaranteed not to succeed wildly.

That’s why Page expects his employees to create products and services that are 10 times better than the competition.
Wired: Google's Larry Page on Why Moon Shots Matter [wired.com]
Wired: What’s your evaluation of Google+?

Page: I’m very happy with how it has gone. We’re working on a lot of really cool stuff. A lot of it has been copied by our competitors, so I think we’re doing a good job.

Wired: Now you have a separate division called Google X, dedicated to moon-shot projects like self-driving cars. Why did you decide you needed to set up an entire department for this?

Page: I think we need to be doing breakthrough, non-incremental things across our whole business. But right now Google X does things that can be done more independently.

7:01 pm on Jan 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Competition? They're running a cash rich monopoly.

Ford doesn't have the luxury of spending unlimited amounts of money to build a driver-less car. Google does. That's not competition.

The very fact that they can throw gobs of cash at things that are completely unrelated to their business model shows that they have little accountability when it comes to spending. It has nothing to do with them being better or more idealistic. It's simply they have too much cash and no accountability, so they can indulge in a corporate style hedonism.

Besides, what have they created that's 10X better than the competition? Oh, right. Adwords. Back in the 90's.
8:03 pm on Jan 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Ford doesn't have the luxury of spending unlimited amounts of money to build a driver-less car


Ford and many other car companies throw enormous amounts of money on R&D every year. What they don't have is the programming talent and data infrastructure of Google Maps needed to pull off such a project.

It's easy to vilify Google but Apple, largest corporation in the world with more cash in the bank than the US government, yet they didn't make a self-driving car nor could they with all that money because they lacked the raw data to make it function.

FWIW, you would think Apple would've been the company to attempt a project like Google Glasses as it's a natural fit with their product line yet it's Google bringing such cool technology to life. Yet again, infrastructure over wads of cash made the technology possible.

The only thing Google has monopolized is the ability to collect and organize massive amounts of data in such meaningful ways that they are the stepping stone to the scifi future we all dreamed about as kids.

BTW, in case you missed it, Google also has also built the Universal Translator like they had in Star Trek for Android. You speak into the phone, it translates it to text, translates the text into the target language and will also attempt to digitally speak in the target language.

Very cool.
8:16 pm on Jan 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Besides, what have they created that's 10X better than the competition? Oh, right. Adwords. Back in the 90's.

Really? GMail? Android? Chrome? FTTH? GMaps?

That's off the top of my head.

The very fact that they can throw gobs of cash at things that are completely unrelated to their business model shows that they have little accountability when it comes to spending. It has nothing to do with them being better or more idealistic. It's simply they have too much cash and no accountability, so they can indulge in a corporate style hedonism.


Amazing. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. It seems like everyone is upset no matter what corporations do. Either they are not spending enough on innovation and are too focused on short term profits, or they don't have enough accountability and are throwing money away.

Corporate R&D is not a bad thing. Ma Bell might have used its monopoly position to fund innovation, but we're better off as a society that they did.

Building shareholder value is not a bad thing. Many Gen Xers went to college because of the likes of Compaq and Wal-Mart, neither of which were particularly innovative, but both were good at making a lot of money.

---

In my opinion, Google's attempts at shooting the moon have benefited society as a whole. I dislike some of their business practices but I admire that they're always thinking big.
8:53 pm on Jan 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



>>>Really? GMail? Android? Chrome? FTTH? GMaps?

Gmail is not 10 times better than other mail programs. Might be worse.
Android, that's linux. I get creeped every time I turn my phone on. I know they're listening into my phone calls, if not directly, then transmitted through the fillings in my teeth.
Chrome is not 10 times better than firefox. Might be 10X worse.
Gmaps, the streetview, sure, but mapping, that's debatable. Maybe their maps are 10 times better than other stuff.

But none of that stuff makes any money. Take away adwords income from Google, and they won't be in the automated car business very long. Even a serious competitor over a few years would likely put an end to this nonsense.

Ford doesn't do self driving cars because they're accountable and have to make money. Google isn't and doesn't. It's like that movie, 'take away reason and accountability', and you have Google. The only reason they can spew this nonsense is exactly what I said, they have a monopoly, way too much cash, and no accountability for spending money on stuff with little to no purpose other than ego strokes.

I don't care what they do with their money, I was commenting that they are claiming some higher business purpose when what they're really doing is spending frivoulously and without any accountability.
9:12 pm on Jan 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Sorry, but Ford DOES make self-driving cars, well self-parking anyway.
[forbes.com...]
The parallel parking feature uses ultrasonic sensors to look for suitable parking and automatically steers the car into the space.


And they also predict they'll have self-driving cars by 2017:
[extremetech.com...]
According to Ford the self-driving car will be here within five years, using technologies available today.


If they weren't wasting money on them why would they predict they'll have one? :)

Totally off topic, but if the argument is that Ford doesn't waste money on self-driving cars, when it DOES, then it should at least be corrected to be accurate and off topic.
9:42 pm on Jan 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Self-driving cars. I'd like to see one pull up to the gas station and fill itself up.
11:44 pm on Jan 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Now, if all US companies spent 10% of their budget on breakthrough technology, imagine how far ahead the US could be from the rest of the pack whom are quickly catching up.

Creating breakthrough technology 'wastes money'. But the biggest waste is having the money in the bank do nothing but help the bloated financial industry, while only focusing on slightly improving current systems. Improving current systems is always a race to the bottom, with the winner being the biggest loser. Disruptive development is the key to truly being ahead of the pack.
12:07 am on Jan 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

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The way Page sees it, a 10 percent improvement means that you’re basically doing the same thing as everybody else.


Then please Larry, for gods sake, stop rolling out 500 updates a year affecting 1% of searches each, you're killing us with these, dude.

As for self driving cars I never intend to get in one, ever, and if I or anyone I love is ever hurt by one I intend to sue, bigtime.

Google did search and contextual advertising best, why not re-focus on your strengths, Larry?
3:09 am on Jan 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I don't often agree with Google. Since Panda2 (I recovered fully) I've been rather pissed at them - still am.

The reason that they have the cash to invest is that way back they shot for the moon. If you can afford to shoot for 10x, do it. If you can only afford 3x, then that will need to do until you can afford 10x. Don't set your standards to that of your competition. Wise words.

There are many at Google optimizing for semi-small incremental changes (e.g. 10%). That's okay as long as Sr. Management is shooting for something much higher.
4:10 am on Jan 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Google makes 95% of its money by running auctions for contextual ads.

Hal Varian is in charge of this part of Google.

Everything else is a waste of time, destroying shareholder value, and they are getting worse at delivering contextual ads.
6:06 am on Jan 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

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The very fact that they can throw gobs of cash at things that are completely unrelated to their business model shows that they have little accountability when it comes to spending....

Larry Page...
That's why most companies decay slowly over time. They tend to do approximately what they did before, with a few minor changes. It's natural for people to want to work on things that they know aren't going to fail. But incremental improvement is guaranteed to be obsolete over time.
6:36 am on Jan 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Google also has also built the Universal Translator like they had in Star Trek for Android. You speak into the phone, it translates it to text, translates the text into the target language and will also attempt to digitally speak in the target language.

I was going to say that YouTube will get rich showing videos of some of the more spectacular mondegreens resulting from this three-step process. And then I remembered...
3:11 pm on Jan 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

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"Self-driving cars" I am the only one who actually enjoys driving. If you go and buy a nice new sports car, are you going to just sit there and have it drive by itself?

You could just hire a driver if you don't want to drive.
6:15 pm on Jan 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Yea and GET OFFA MY LAWN!

Honestly, you guys.

I admire Page's thinking almost as much as I'm scared of it. *Somebody* has to do this stuff. And if they choose to do it with their own money rather than mine, so much the better.
6:36 pm on Jan 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



They're fine doing whatever they- just don't claim they're serving a higher purpose and are better than everyone else. Which is what that article read like.

Maybe ford is doing self driving cars. So why is google spending money on it? Probably because they think they can do it better than ford - and that remains to be seen. Consider your attitude if you read in the paper that Ford decided to spend a billion dollars building a search engine. Does that sound like a bright idea?

Rcharlton:
That's why most companies decay slowly over time. They tend to do approximately what they did before, with a few minor changes. It's natural for people to want to work on things that they know aren't going to fail. But incremental improvement is guaranteed to be obsolete over time.

I have a friend who's got a tech company that's averaged 20% growth annually for the last two decades. He's on his way to being a billionnaire. And he doesn't do any of this nonsense, because he doesn't have unlimited funds like Google does. He sticks to his knitting. He very specifically advises me NOT to do the stuff that Page is bragging about.

Who am I going to believe? My friend who's sustained high growth rates in a business for years, or one-trick pony Google who haven't actually built or grown anything? As I noted, you remove adwords, and Larry Page has done exactly nothing from a business perspective. Where's their 10X innovation in adwords?

The article comes off as a facetious ego stroke, not as any sort of business advice. I'm not going to treat smart moves one time over a decade ago as some sort of proof of smart business ideology. If anything, it's the opposite. Page is showing us what smart businesses shouldn't be doing.
11:49 pm on Jan 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

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annually for the last two decades

Two decades = long term?
9:22 am on Jan 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Gmail is not 10 times better than other mail programs. Might be worse.

Not for you or me, but it is for less sophisticated users. Lots of mail but cannot understand threaded views? Gmail conversation view is the solution

Android, that's linux.

It users a Linux kernel. It is more true to say MacOS is BSD.

Chrome is not 10 times better than firefox. Might be 10X worse.

For users who have never worked out how to install FIrefox extension, or change any settings, it may be.
6:44 pm on Jan 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Gmail conversation view is the solution


MSFT has the same ability through the new webmail based Outlook version. I use it as a desktop app via Windows 8 for personal email and like it quite a bit. It's not limited to google. And unless something has changed I think I remember google's version being simply the chain of the conversation being lumped into the same email? Whereas with what MSFT is offering me I can jump to any part of the discussion separately from the left-hand pane view.
6:57 pm on Jan 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

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This is just more spin from the Google boss to keep the share price up, no Google product is 10x better than anyone else's, apart from streetview + mapping.

The self drive car isn't a product yet so it can't be counted. same for google glasses their just money pits at the moment. probably to the shareholders annoyance.

it's just more spin
8:26 pm on Jan 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Gmail conversation view...

...And unless something has changed I think I remember google's version being simply the chain of the conversation being lumped into the same email?

Thanks, SevenCubed. I never could figure out what the h they were doing. It just seemed like a bunch of my emails were disappearing (when Google turned on the "feature" by default), and I wasted about an hour trying to figure out what was going on. Minimalist interface with minimalist documentation.

Assuming passengers can find the seats in the self-driving cars, I'm sure they will turn out to be an amazingly good thing... and probably a very smart business move.

Beyond search, Google's new business model probably will include AI, robotics, advertising... and "knowledge"/information storage, distribution, and interpretation.

In the future...
Q: Tell me, oh Google, where are my missing messages?
A: Those are in Smooth View.
Q: What is Smooth View?
A: That is where we put your messages to make it easier for you to find them.
8:40 pm on Jan 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



Ya I can turn the Outlook webmail version on or off too via settings in the charms on the right. Also realized since posting above I can hide the thread flow by clicking on an arrow in the left pane so that they appear to be all in one email -- same as what you are describing in Gmail I guess.
9:21 pm on Jan 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

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plus when you get to around 200 emails in one thread it tends to crash the browser, also mobile phones struggle to use the full desktop version as it uses so much of the client resources. also yahoo mail is much faster.
 

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