April 2011
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Google’s Moat and Castle

With your mercury mouth in the missionary times
And your eyes like smoke and your prayers like rhymes
And your silver cross, and your voice like chimes
Oh, who among them do they think could bury you?
- SAD-EYED LADY OF THE LOWLANDS

Short version: I drew a picture while watching crap on TV. Scroll to the bottom to see it.

I seem to be bumping into Google absolutely everywhere these days. When you take a step back and think about it, it really is astonishing how many areas they play in, and how many competitors they have. And it changes fast. In the last few days, they’ve ditched Google Video, acquired PushLife (their 94th acquisition) and are rumoured to be building a FlipBoard killer.

I also recently read a wonderful article, The Freight Train That Is Android by VC Bill Gurley (@bgurley – follow him now). He introduces his article with a famous quote from investor-extraordinaire Warren Buffet, who said:

In business, I look for economic castles protected by unbreachable moats

In Google’s case, the economic castle is search and ads. That is the cash cow. Gurley then go on to say:

Google’s aim is defensive not offensive. They are not trying to make a profit on Android or Chrome. They want to take any layer that lives between themselves and the consumer and make it free (or even less than free). Because these layers are basically software products with no variable costs, this is a very viable defensive strategy. In essence, they are not just building a moat; Google is also scorching the earth for 250 miles around the outside of the castle to ensure no one can approach it. And best I can tell, they are doing a damn good job of it.

Click for large image. High Res available below.

So, inspired by all of this, I drew a picture to give myself a birds-eye view of everything I know that Google is involved in as of 20:00 GMT on Monday 18th April 2011. They’re not winning on all fronts but they’re doing pretty well. “Social” is their weak point at the moment, which is why Larry P just announced that 25% of all Googlers bonuses depend on their social success.

Now I am sure I didn’t waste hours of my life on this beast and you’re all going to stick it on your wall at work and home. Here are the big versions:

Download Hi-Res PDF: 1.3 MB
Download Hi-Res JPG:  4.2 MB

And feel free to point out all my cock-ups in the comments and I’ll update this next time my wife watches another shitty romcom.

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8 comments to Google’s Moat and Castle

  • Great job Jon!
    It seems that there is only couple of things i find missing, time line and size of each section.
    Having a venture in allot of things is a good and bad trait, could quote the “Jack of all trades, master of none” but it is probably without merit.

  • Very nice John.

    Where would you put Google Search Appliance? Of course, it’s always been a somewhat puzzling stepchild. When it first came out I (along with many other people) thought it was going to be a proxy (a.k.a., trojan horse) for access to internal enterprise services, especially directories, to mediate access to Google SaaS apps. Never really worked out that way, though.

  • David Knowles

    Nice diagram, but you missed,Boutiques.com, which is a google site for selling clothes of all things but it really disguise as a recommendation engine research project.

    An Platini need to go somewhere on there.

    Google social also got a product called Disco, a group text app for the Iphone, produce by there slide division.

    Chrome OS also need to go into the Mobile OS area.

    An I did not see google groups on there either.

    But the thing I love about the diagram is that Google face lots of competition in all those areas, and some of those areas are extremely competitive. If I have sometime and motivation is it alright if I reproduce this diagram as a flash/ possible css3/html5 website.

  • Thanks David,

    I didn’t know about Boutiques.com at all. I knew about Platini, but didn’t think it was big enough to get included. Disco is on there – it is the square blue logo thing – and that is why GroupMe is there as a competitor. You’re completely right about ChromeOS – I’ll add that to the next version. And Groups was also an ommission.

    I would be overjoyed if you reproduce it in any form you like. I’d be even more overjoyed if it was HTML/CSS rather than Flash :-)

    Thanks again for the comments
    Jon

  • Isn’t the point that there isn’t actually any castle?

  • I dоn’t drop a comment, but after looking at a few of the comments on this page
    Google

  • Nice blog here! Also your site loads up fast! What web
    host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host?

    I wish my website loaded up as fast as yours lol

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