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.
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:
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.