In the course of doing the voodoo that VCs do, I’ve started to ask a number of questions of new companies in order to get a “man on street” view of this or that battle, this or that standard, and other things that might (or might not) matter to start up companies.
One question I’ve been asking: What do you think of the Microsoft vs. Google battles, both today and ones to come?
Obviously, this is fairly opened ended. It was designed that way to see what pops into people’s heads first as well as not leading people toward any specific answer.
First observation: A ton of people do not read the web site of the firms they go visit. I think I’m making a reasonable conclusion when people come by, get the question above and lead off with “All Microsoft people are amazing jerks and I’ve yet to ever meet…” Happened 4 times recently.
Folks, just go with “Even tho I/We know you used to work there…” and then dump away. Fake like you did some VC homework.
Second observation: Google’s plan of just giving away as much as possible and sharing revenue with everybody on everything is a dead simple message that everybody just gets. Regardless how evil or not you think Google is or isn’t, the message that developers are hearing is this: Use our stuff and let’s make money together.
Head on over to the Head Lemur’s place where he pointed out some pretty interesting language in Google’s licensing with respect to content. Some people, like Alan, will hit the “you’ve been warned” button but the larger message: Nobody appears, today, to care.
For example, I’m seeing all kinds of applications that use various mapping features, all with Google Maps, none with Virtual Earth. Licensing restrictions was the number one issue mentioned, the second being the richness of the API set. Think about that for a second. Even if you believe Virtual Earth is better or has better, the licensing is what gets mentioned, not the technology.
Third observation: Good vs. Evil is an overrated point. Most of the developers I spoke to said, they believe for a fact that Google is just as “greedy” as Microsoft only Google appears, today, willing to share more of the pie then Microsoft.
Fourth observation: Let the ‘war’ continue. Most would love it if Microsoft and Google went at it for the next ten years because, in the end, features, functionality and opportunities, come out of all this.
Fifth observation: Robert Scoble gets mentioned often among developers. No single Google Blogger is called out by name at least with any measurable consistency. I’m not sure if this is a good thing/bad thing or anything, just interesting. Actually, the other thing to note on the people side is that within various specialties, like maps, database, code, etc, virtually everybody mentioned a specific blog they read or found useful that specifically related to the product/service they were using. To you, I know, duh, but if you think back a short while, this wasn’t the case. It’s an interesting trend.
Sixth observation: While nobody wants to ship 50lb bags of dog food for free in return for advertising, the whole notion of free whatever making money by highly targeted advertising seems to be taking on a bit of bubble 1.0, make it up in volume, kinda hype. Worth watching because at a certain point, somewhere, advertising can’t cover it all. At least I don’t think so, could be wrong.
Thankfully, more and more start ups are just showing up with a plan to solve a problem, give great service, and grow a business versus trying to ride the dot net, or web 2.0, or any other hype wave.
In the end, for me, that’s all that matters.