Google’s Growth Risks

I ran across this interesting article on Google’s amazing growth and the risks they’re facing in the New York Times Technology section:

As Its Stock Tops $600, Google Faces Growing Risks

What could reset expectations about Google? What are the risk factors — short term and longer range — that could dim the aura of inevitable success that surrounds the company? What could slow the Google juggernaut?

The potential threats, according to industry analysts, fall into three broad categories: those from inside the company, those from rivals, and public policy challenges that could bring regulatory controls and tarnish Google’s reputation and brand.

The internal threats are typical of a company that gains size quickly. In a lot of ways Google mirrors earlier technology companies like Microsoft and Apple. Even IBM if you want to go back that far. However, I don’t think Google has a songbook yet.

One point raised in the article is that Google is having trouble hiring people. That is interesting. From what I’ve seen in the software development industry they’re considered among the pickiest companies out there. There is also a surreptitious current of ageism in their hiring practices as well. For example, I’ve been told by a couple of recruiters, “Don’t be over 30 if you want a job there.” Maybe if they realized that you don’t have to be a 25 year old graduate of a technical university that has a name that begins with “S” to be a good technical person they wouldn’t have this hiring problem.

Another interesting point in the article is, “only 5 to 10 percent of advertising budgets are spent online, even though most Americans now spend as much time on the Web as watching television.” If this is accurate then this means a huge cash potential for those of us doing Internet marketing. Don’t think you’ve missed the ground floor opportunity since we may very well still be in the basement.

The biggest problem I see for Google is the threat of anti-trust litigation. It’s almost a badge of honor with technology leaders and, given the direction they’re headed, it is almost inevitable for Google. Their recent attack on paid links could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in this area.

What do you think? Leave me a comment and let me know.


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