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Ballmer Says Google's Growth Is 'Insane'

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the doubling-the-doubled-growth-rate dept.

Google 420

eldavojohn writes "Steve Ballmer spoke to the Seattle PI this week, commenting that Google's pace of employee growth is 'insane,' and the company has few successful businesses outside of Internet search and advertising. He referred to Google's non-search efforts as 'cute.' Google's current number of employees is nearly doubling each year. 'I don't really know that anybody's proven that a random collection of people doing their own thing actually creates value.' Mr. Ballmer went on complain that, in general, competition for good programmers has become an issue. Even 'hedge funds' are looking for skilled coders, making the HR fight between the two companies that much more challenging."

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420 comments

Let the chair throwing commence (5, Insightful)

Vengeance (46019) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374775)

As I translate Steve's remarks:

ROaaarrrr!!!! We are finding ourselves *hoot hoot* having to spend more money to hire quality programmers *scratch*. *Beats Chest* Google BAD!

Re:Let the chair throwing commence (1, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374787)

I read it more as, "Waaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh." I could even pictuer Ballmer putting his thumb into his mouth after his rant.

Re:Let the chair throwing commence (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18374837)

Google BAD!

Beer GOOD!

Re:Let the chair throwing commence (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18374949)

Google to MS: All your coders are belong to us!!

Re:Let the chair throwing commence (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18375447)

Idiot. If you're going to make AYBABTU references, get them right. Otherwise it loses whatever shred of humor it might have had in the first place.

All your CODER are belong to us.

Insane (4, Funny)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374983)

Well, if anybody knows "insane", it's Ballmer.

Re:Let the chair throwing commence (3, Funny)

saboola (655522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375137)

BAAALMMMEEER.... MAAAAAAAD

Meh... (1, Insightful)

sgant (178166) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375157)

He's just mad that they waited too long to try to just buy Google outright before they got big. Then he got even more upset when someone on his staff showed him the definition of "competition".

And aside from that... Balmer is right (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18375393)

'I don't really know that anybody's proven that a random collection of people doing their own thing actually creates value.'


How can he say that? Doesn't he remember the free-wheeling and heady days of the dot-bomb era, with it's mantra of "making money don't matter"? And who could forget all the progress made by Enron and Worldcom, with their mantra of "laws don't matter". And the apex of the random collection of stooges with the Bush administration and their fiscal conservative mantra of "deficits don't matter"?

And everyone is still playing that great game by "design is king" John Carmack, who made all of us his bitches with the smash hit "Daikatana". Also, the random collection of people have brought the world it's #1 operating system, Linux. No longer are we shackled to the tyrany of a single text editor! No longer do we have to deal with the horrors of having new hardware automatically detected and configured! No longer do we have the ability to buy quality software!

So excuse me, I'm going to play Diakatana on my Lunix boxen: it's great being the bitch of both Lunis Tornballs and John Carmack!!!

Slasdotters Say Ballmer Is 'Insane' (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374779)

AKAImBatman spoke to Slashdot this week, commenting that Microsoft's CEO is 'insane,' and the company has few successful businesses outside of Windows and Office. He referred to Balmer's stage antics as 'cute.' 'I don't really know that yelling "Developers" and doing your own thing on the stage creates value.' AKAImBatman went on complain that, in general, competition for good stage presenters has become an issue. Even companies like SCO are looking for skilled showmen, making the HR fight between the two companies that much more challenging.


Ok, joking aside, am I the only one who finds Balmer's complaint a bit hypocritical? It's true that Microsoft has incredible sums of cash. However, Windows and Office are pretty much the only things making Microsoft that cash. Nearly every other portion of the company either contributes very little to the bottom line, or actually loses Microsoft money. I imagine that's part of the reason why Microsoft keeps bundling extra software services with Windows: At least it raises the value of the software package. (In theory, anyway.)

That being said, I am going to (*gasp*) agree with him on one point. Having a bunch of programmers sitting around does not accomplish anything. They have to be in a full-on creative environment to do the truly impressive stuff. I think that the environment is slowly dissolving as Google loses it cohesion as a tight-knit company. They're growing incredibly fast, and I'm not sure they're really getting a good return on that growth. Obviously, only those inside the company can actually know that for sure, but it's not looking as good as it once did for those of us on the outside.

Re:Slasdotters Say Ballmer Is 'Insane' (4, Insightful)

greenguy (162630) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374959)

Normally, I'd agree. I think there's a lot to the philosophy of "do one thing, and do it very well." Google, however, does a lot of things... very well. Their maps and apps and whatever else are all clever, clean, and tasteful, not to mention highly effective. Ballmer calling them "cute" is an attempt to damn them with faint praise, which is to say, dismiss them. He can say what he likes, but Google will continue to chip away their market share.

I do agree with you that their rate of growth is not sustainable, but I also suspect that as soon as it slows, people will immediately go "Google's hiring is down! Are they in trouble? Are they just not good enough to stand up to Microsoft after all?"

Re:Slasdotters Say Ballmer Is 'Insane' (4, Insightful)

lurker4hire (449306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375165)

Google does do only one thing, and they do it well! That one thing just happens to manifest itself in a myriad of ways, but they're still striving for a single, massive goal.

From their about google page:

l4h

Re:Slasdotters Say Ballmer Is 'Insane' (4, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375197)

I think Ballmer calls those things cute because they mostly don't directly bring revenue. Microsoft has always believed that everything they do should directly bring in money. I think that's one reason their online documentation has always sucked. Since Google's main revenue stream is AdWords, anything tangential, even though it indirectly brings revenue by keeping people on site and raising brand recognition, is simply cute.

Either Ballmer's an idiot or in denial. I'm feeling it's a little from column A and a little from column B.

Re:Slasdotters Say Ballmer Is 'Insane' (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375341)

Microsoft has always believed that everything they do should directly bring in money.

But as we all know (and the OP in this thread already stated), only Windows and Office actually do that

Re:Slasdotters Say Ballmer Is 'Insane' (3, Informative)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375383)

Well, no. Only Windows and Office bring profit. But every product they make brings in millions to billions in revenue. The problem for them is not enough revenue and/or very high expenses. XBox, for example, brings in billions, but they have had to spend billions to convince (and pay) developers to write games on it and to convince the public it's worth buying.

Re:Slasdotters Say Ballmer Is 'Insane' (2, Funny)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375349)

Either Ballmer's an idiot or in denial. I'm feeling it's a little from column A and a little from column B.


Or Steve is trying his own hand at inducing a Reality Distortion Field.

Re:Slasdotters Say Ballmer Is 'Insane' (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375421)

Or Steve is trying his own hand at inducing a Reality Distortion Field.

It's working, but he missed the point entirely. Instead of directing it outward to control the masses, he pointed it inward and brainwashed himself.

Re:Slasdotters Say Ballmer Is 'Insane' (1)

archen (447353) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375369)

Well I don't think MS is necessarily stuck on always bringing in money. IE for instance. But both MS and Google create things which don't go strait to the bottom line but add to their ecosystem to add value. Gmail for instance I found to be okay, but I found it convenient to use the calendar as well. Google documents is a convenient place to jot down notes for me. Slowly but surely Google has won me over to gmail, but not directly because of gmail.

Microsoft is much more complex. For instnace they push a music format, and a PC media player neither of which generates any real profit but is more of an attempt for Microsoft to gain some control in the market. Control == $$ I think your spot on about Balmer being a bit of both columns.

Re:Slasdotters Say Ballmer Is 'Insane' (4, Insightful)

malsdavis (542216) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375407)

I think there is a fundamental difference though in that for over a decade now Microsoft has been able to convince people all around the world to part with hundreds of dollars, pounds, euros, yen and whatever else for their core products (Windows and Office), and many of their other products do also make a profit. Google has yet to launch a single application that can do this.

They do make a fair amount of money through their ad system but they are yet to produce anything else which isn't running at a loss. Besides, most stock-market analysts will agree that unless Google can pull something out of their hat in the next few years, their valuation is simply insane.

Re:Slasdotters Say Ballmer Is 'Insane' (4, Funny)

benzapp (464105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375481)

I don't know, I use the maps on local.live.com much more frequently than maps.google.com. They are also way better than google earth.

I like gmail, but it's bee 3 years since I started using it and its still "beta". I'm a bit concerned google isn't very committed to their products.

And let's face it - this isn't 1998. The google search model sucks these days, and only worked great for the first few years because no one was exploiting their pagerank methodology. I get the same crap on Microsoft's search engine I do on Google. It doesn't matter which one I use, and for the 90% of people who juse use IE's defaults, it doesn't matter to them either.

Google has been riding on their successes from nearly a decade ago. I think google is in a much more difficult place than you imagine. If anything, their hiring fanatacism is a desperate attempt to find a diamond in the pile of coal. They are hoping that of the hundreds of turkeys they hire, one will think of something big, and they will be saved.

I'd say if google doesn't come up with something real fast, like in the next 3-5 years - they will be finished.

Re:Slasdotters Say Ballmer Is 'Insane' (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374971)

The proof is in the bottom line, so let's look at Google's bottom line...

Ah, look at that! Profitable. Oh, is a that the word "billion" next to their revenues in 2006?

Yeah. I feel so sorry for Google. Maybe if they they practice business more like Micro$oft, they would be more successful.

*shaking of head*

Re:Slasdotters Say Ballmer Is 'Insane' (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374981)

They have to be in a full-on creative environment to do the truly impressive stuff. I think that the environment is slowly dissolving as Google loses it cohesion as a tight-knit company. They're growing incredibly fast, and I'm not sure they're really getting a good return on that growth. Obviously, only those inside the company can actually know that for sure, but it's not looking as good as it once did for those of us on the outside.

I'm not sure I can agree with this. Google is exploding in a number of directions from internet based application services to radio advertising to mapping services to hardware offerings to IM. They basically have hit upon the concept that advertising can be used to make money off of anything popular, so they have set about finding or creating things people want. They're investing in R&D and headcount and while some may argue that they won't get significant return on that, I don't see any evidence of that and I have to believe they keep track internally of how much revenue it looks like they're going to pull in from these things.

I know a few people at Google these days and they are bright, motivated guys. I'm not sure exactly what they're doing, but they're sure not sitting on their hands and both are top notch engineers with real world business experience as well. One of them founded a very successful and profitable startup I worked at. From the outside, it looks to me like they can't help but make cool stuff and money if they are made up of that caliber of people.

Re:Slasdotters Say Ballmer Is 'Insane' (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375311)

They basically have hit upon the concept that advertising can be used to make money off of anything popular, so they have set about finding or creating things people want.


One slight quibble. It's not just about popularity. Google is interested in aggregating information. What they're doing is figuring out forms of information people need / want and how to provide an interface to effectively access that information. Popularity is a welcomed byproduct. Although, on second thought, that might be discounting the difficulty in making a profit from being popular - not always an easy feat.

Energetic transformation (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18375323)

Whenever any organizational structure begins experiencing more energy throughput than it can handle, it becomes a bit disorganized and chaotic. Wild and uncontrolled releases of energy erupt throughout the entire structure. During this period, one of two things happen. Either A) the entity becomes too disorganized and falls apart or b) the entity spontaneously achieves a higher level of organization which is capable of sustaining the higher level of energy throughput.

This is true of all biological systems, and it has been observed in higher organizational systems as well, including human psychology as well as human society. Businesses are no exception.

So Google is in a bit of a chaotic phase. It has resources streaming in and out at a wild pace, and it is growing rapidly. It is full of developmental efforts spiraling out in multiple directions simultaneously. All of this fits the pattern of high-level reorganization amid chaos. Is it risky? Of course. Might they crumble? Of course. However, this is not the only possible consequence. They could also settle into a strong business with innovative offerings and a very sustainable business model. We will just have to wait and see.

Re:Slasdotters Say Ballmer Is 'Insane' (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375059)

However, Windows and Office are pretty much the only things making Microsoft that cash.

Ballmer better be careful when he complains about Google's allegedly narrow successful niches: it may trigger Google to go into the OS and office-suite business to diversify, kicking MS in the family jewels. An Irony Sandwich is has just been ordered...
     

Re:Slasdotters Say Ballmer Is 'Insane' (1)

Drysh (868378) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375367)

Corretion: ...it may trigger Google to go into the OS business...

They are already moving to the office-suite business, Google style:
http://docs.google.com/

Re:Slasdotters Say Ballmer Is 'Insane' (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375063)

Oh, Balmer's complaint is hugely hypocritical. Google also has huge sums of cash from their stock. Google will eventually hit a wall if they don't come up with other big revenue streams. And I think that's why they hire so many smart people. Even if only one in a thousand comes up with a great idea it'll all pay off.

Re:Slasdotters Say Ballmer Is 'Insane' (5, Interesting)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375235)

Investors have a lot riding on the fact that Google will eventually return more than just a very high stock price for them. While stock prices make money short term, the base of investing is long term returns. I have a feeling that, in a few years' time, if Google isn't returning anything, their stock could face a major drop.

Something that is scary, though, is that Google has a very unique position in the marketplace. They know trends before they are public trends. With their stats program that is popular with startups, they can see new sites and new ideas before they get big. That is tremendous power, in both terms of capital (buying out early), and could be used for good of "evil" very easily. Imagine if they started selling that data to investment groups. "Based on search queries it looks like MSFT might face a major wave of backlash, you should short their stock." They are in position to even influence the global market through Google News and search results ranking.

Re:Slasdotters Say Ballmer Is 'Insane' (3, Informative)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375491)

Oh, Balmer's complaint is hugely hypocritical. Google also has huge sums of cash from their stock.

Exactly. When was the last time Microsoft's stock was over $100, let alone $400? Ballmer's more envious than anything -- he keeps wondering why no one at Google is reading the résumés he keeps sending.

Google will eventually hit a wall if they don't come up with other big revenue streams. And I think that's why they hire so many smart people. Even if only one in a thousand comes up with a great idea it'll all pay off.

I don't think so. I think they're pushing the wall further and further, making things less profitable for their competitors. The extra ideas they come up with, good or not, aren't hedges against a collapse but part of a strategy to quietly worm their way into every part of the Internet. Face it: Google the search engine is near ubiquitous now. If they come up with other things (mobile phones, operating systems, etc.) that attain that kind of ubiquity, eventually they'll be able to charge for them and people won't give it a second though, since they will have become dependent on them.

Re:Slasdotters Say Ballmer Is 'Insane' (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375079)

Exactly.

I've often wondered why MSFT see Google as a threat, MSFT make office software and Operating systems. Google dont make OS's (well not yet) and sure Google have a web app that can read office docs, which is really more for convenience, so at least until recently the two companies have been after completely different things.

MSFT is just a little scared because they are accustomed to being the only big boy on the block. Now there are two big boys, but different blocks. IMHO, MSFT should focus on improving its Office tools and making OS's. Read: Their Core Business. MSFT trying to compete with Google with search is a battle already lost. MSFT trying to compete with Apple on mp3 players is a battle already lost. But for everyone else, Competing with MSFT on an OS and Office suite is a battle already lost. Stick to what you're good at MSFT. Sony's pissy attempt at diversification should be a lesson.

Developers Developers Developers (1)

colonslashslash (762464) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375121)

Ok, joking aside, am I the only one who finds Balmer's complaint a bit hypocritical?
Count me in.

That being said, I am going to (*gasp*) agree with him on one point. Having a bunch of programmers sitting around does not accomplish anything. They have to be in a full-on creative environment to do the truly impressive stuff.
That's assuming, of course, that the developers at Google are sitting around doing nothing, which I doubt is the case. It's widely publicised that they are given time to themselves to work on pet projects, but these can and do directly benefit Google. I'd argue that this kind of environment is potentially a very creative environment - in my experience, people work best on things they are actually interested in on a personal level.

I know where you are coming from, and I agree in part - their massive growth rate is probably causing some problems, as it would anywhere. However, Ol' Steve just has a hard-on for Google and is spitting out the usual Microsoft FUD sound bytes. Personally, I haven't been able to take a word he says seriously since "that video". Which one I'm referring to, I'll leave up to you. :)

Re:Slasdotters Say Ballmer Is 'Insane' (1)

norminator (784674) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375181)

AKAImBatman spoke to Slashdot this week, commenting that Microsoft's CEO is 'insane,' and the company has few successful businesses outside of Windows and Office. He referred to Balmer's stage antics as 'cute.' 'I don't really know that yelling "Developers" and doing your own thing on the stage creates value.' AKAImBatman went on complain that, in general, competition for good stage presenters has become an issue. Even companies like SCO are looking for skilled showmen, making the HR fight between the two companies that much more challenging.

You don't even have to replace things in the quote with silly stuff, you can user pretty realistic replacements to point out the hypocrisy:

Microsoft's size/market share/Vista bloat is "insane", Microsoft's non-OS/non-Office efforts are "cute" (e.g. Zune)....

And I'm sure the Microsoft staff in the Windows Media, Zune, XBox, MSN, Money, VirtualPC, and Windows Mobile departments are working hard and all, but are they actually creating value, or are they sucking up resources without creating a payoff like Google Earth is doing? Oh yeah, MS has their own Google Earth, too, except it's just the web-based maps part... For a company that's trying to keep up with the same interesting technologies as Google (while trying to manage all the other random technology areas they've been trying to compete in), I think that leaves more explaining for MS to do than Google.

Re:Slasdotters Say Ballmer Is 'Insane' (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375275)

Well, Google is taking a much more scattergun approach to things. It's a case of finding cool services and then trying to work out a way to make them profitable. Microsoft are latching onto more established markets and muscling in. For example, the Zune has a much more tangible market than Google video.

I reckon Microsoft were probably like this in the first couple of years though.

Re:Slasdotters Say Ballmer Is 'Insane' (5, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375425)

Remember this is MS. Everything is reverse in MS world. i.e. They are innovating when they copy other companies. The Apple phone doesn't offer any new features. Linux is full of their IP. And it goes on and on.

I imagine that's part of the reason why Microsoft keeps bundling extra software services with Windows: At least it raises the value of the software package. (In theory, anyway.)

Well some of their divisions really do nothing for Windows. Like the Xbox. Its a huge money loser. It doesn't add to Windows or Office. Xbox is about taking the market from Sony and Nintendo. Period. When other companies lose $4 billion on a division or product over several years, the product gets cancelled or overhauled. What I mean by overhaul is in the strategy. MS did neither. It just followed the same strategy and upgraded the hardware and software specifications for the Xbox 360.

Having a bunch of programmers sitting around does not accomplish anything.

Yes but even if they are working, are they actually producing anything worthwhile? MS spends about $1 billion a quarter in R&D. Over the last five years, all they've managed to do is to produce an OS that in my opinion, a woeful copy of OS X. It's not that they don't have good people and that their people don't work. It's that the direction of the company is lacking.

To me, Microsoft's problem is that their main goal it to compete with anyone who might threaten their monopoly. Their goal is not to make a good product but to beat everyone else. IE was only innovative up until Netscape lost. Then development stagnated until Firefox became a threat. MSN Search was just an ordinary search engine. Then Google showed up. MSN Search was overhauled to compete. Apple conquered the MP3 player market. MS now wants a piece of that market.

What happened to . . . (4, Funny)

SpeedyGonz (771424) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374789)

. . . the "monkeyboy" tag?

Poll Troll Toll (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18374801)

What's better...
 
  Hiring crappy programmers [impoll.net]
  Sex with a mare [impoll.net]

i know who you are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18375429)

lol cult

Jealous much? (5, Funny)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374811)

Steve, your showing off your true traits and motivations again.

If you really felt this way, you'd sit back and wait for Google to implode, and then hire all the best ex-google-ites for well under what they're being paid now.

But you're making such a fuss about it...whining really.

Steve here's a hint for you, it's called competition. Look it up some time.

Re:Jealous much? (1)

rumblin'rabbit (711865) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374957)

I'm no fan of monkey boy, and I've no doubt his comments come of spite, but even a stopped clock is right now and then.

I would be astonished if Google can sustain their business model and rate of growth for much longer. Certainly their stock price looks ridiculous.

Re:Jealous much? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375345)

I would be astonished if Google can sustain their business model and rate of growth for much longer.

Why? What's wrong with their business model, why would it fail? Their revenues are increasing, and search-related advertising is hardly going to disappear -- never mind their expansion into other types of advertising.

As for rate of growth, define growth. You mean rate of employee growth? Sure, exponential growth is unsustainable. But with gross profits over 6 Bn on revenue over 10 Bn, I think they've got pockets deep enough to continue to hire freely -- never mind the cash reserves of 11 Bn.

Think about it. If they pay $200,000 annually (incl benefits) for good employees, they can still hire 30,000 of those people while still turning a gross profit. Assuming, of course, that their revenues don't drop off, which would run counter to almost every analyst's predictions.

Naaahh he is only jealous... (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375111)

...because Google rejected his application to work there as he could not solve the riddles...

Hedge funds (5, Insightful)

mattbelcher (519012) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374819)

It is true. I took a job with an automated trading firm over Google. Partly I wanted to work for a smaller company. Google's dream 20% time looked like a myth when I actually interviewed there (none of my interviewers used their time because they had too much work to do on their normal projects). Also, there's something satisfying about directly measuring the success of your software in dollars. If it makes money, you run it.

Re:Hedge funds (2, Insightful)

Ruvim (889012) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375389)

none of my interviewers used their time because they had too much work to do on their normal projects

This would be a good reason for hiring more employees.

In soviet Russia... (3, Funny)

mikecardii (978929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374831)

google's growth says Ballmer is insane?

Next week news: (5, Funny)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374833)

Novell agrees that google's growth is insane.

Are you kidding me? (2, Interesting)

phoenixwade (997892) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374841)

The CEO of the largest software company in the world is Whining about some other Co's hiring rates?

I wonder if this is more telling about a potential waning of MicroSoft than anything else. Or is it that Balmer is still trying to step out of a shadow... Gates has had a number of exceptional sound bytes over the years.... Positive ones. Balmer, not so much.

This article can be summed up in one word.... (2, Insightful)

8127972 (73495) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374863)

.... Jealousy

Warning! (1)

Svippy (876087) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374871)

Steve Ballmer's opinion may contain chairs!

Google is insane? (5, Funny)

Trekologer (86619) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374893)

This is coming from the guy who ran around a stage [google.com] screaming and flapping his arms about.

Re:Google is insane? (4, Funny)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374929)

That video is hosted on a Google site... that must be some kind of irony?

Re:Google is insane? (1)

peterprior (319967) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375399)

Give it up for meeeeeeeeeeee!

He may have a point (4, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374905)

Throwing more resources at a problem isn't always the best way to solve it. For crying out loud, if anyone should know that it's Ballmer.

A business I worked at several years ago did the same thing. Grew too fast and outpaced the market. Wound up running out of cash and having to lay off all those new hires. One guy was an employee for two weeks. I helped interview the guy, too.

Microsoft jokes aside, (5, Interesting)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374917)

Ballmer is completely correct.

Disclaimer: I worked for Microsoft

Google's approach to growth right now resembles something like a gold rush, assuming that they know where the gold really is. I dont think they do exactly, but are hedging their bets on a number of ideas. The search engine makes money, but Google knows that they will need to do more, and I hope the phone rumors are true, but even so, just gathering a lot of great programmers together under one unbrella does not guarantee innovation.

I think Microsoft proved that good programmers dont necessarily make great programs. Every one of Google's businesses are cases of doing someone else's idea better. Cant wait to see what is coming, but for the moment, I cant see the fault in Ballmer's logic.

Re:Microsoft jokes aside, (4, Insightful)

Vengeance (46019) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375229)

So it's about doing someone else's ideas, but better?

To me, that sounds a *hell* of a lot better than doing someone else's ideas, but poorly, but having enough money and tenacity to wait out your failing competition.

Maybe that's just me, though.

Re:Microsoft jokes aside, (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375251)

Google's approach to growth right now resembles something like a gold rush, assuming that they know where the gold really is.

People made a lot of money in the gold rush. Google is not hiring any warm body they can find. They have been pretty selective and have the highest PhD count in the industry.

I dont think they do exactly, but are hedging their bets on a number of ideas. he search engine makes money, but Google knows that they will need to do more...

I think you're missing the point. Google makes money from advertising primarily. Advertising from their search engine needs to expand. So they move into IM, mapping, video, online applications, etc. etc. in order to expand their advertising base. These aren't random as some people seem to think, but all ways to leverage Google's existing revenue model into other markets.

...just gathering a lot of great programmers together under one unbrella does not guarantee innovation.

From what I've seen Google is gathering together great scientists, engineers, programmers, businessmen, and advertisers. They're gathering together people who can solve problems (their primary hiring criteria). For some reason a lot of people seem to assume Google is hiring up introverted geeks and sticking them in offices and hoping for the best. From what I've seen, that does not seem to be the case. They're hiring smart and flexible people who know how to work together and who have previously run successful businesses of their own. It's not like none of Google's hires understands how to make money or why that is important.

I think Microsoft proved that good programmers dont necessarily make great programs.

Microsoft has shown that thousands of programmers straight out of school and indoctrinated into the "one true way" by the senior engineers and then constantly overridden by marketing and business people whose goal is not to make great programs but to gouge people for as much money as possible, will not make great programs. I don't think that surprises anyone.

Every one of Google's businesses are cases of doing someone else's idea better.

So? That is true of almost every major player in the industry. I don't see how that is related to successful growth.

Cant wait to see what is coming, but for the moment, I cant see the fault in Ballmer's logic.

Ballmer did not present any logic. He expressed an unsupported opinion that may not even be what he truly believes since he has a direct financial interest in spreading doubt regarding Google. Ballmer is the last person we should be listening to in this regard.

Re:Microsoft jokes aside, (4, Informative)

HomerJ (11142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375269)

That's what "innovation" is. Taking someone else's idea, improving on it and making it useful. Coming up with your own ideas is called invention.

Re:Microsoft jokes aside, (1)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375487)

Interesting, since Slashdot has denied that Microsoft has done any innovating, when what you describe is what Microsoft has done since its inception. You could argue about *how* useful Microsoft's products are, but I think you can find someone who gets some value from the tools.

Re:Microsoft jokes aside, (4, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375279)

From Wikipedia:

Microsoft Corporation is a multinational computer technology corporation with global annual revenue of US$44.28 billion and 76,000 employees in 102 countries.

Google Inc. had 10,674 full-time employees as of December 31, 2006, Revenue $10.604 Billion USD (2006)

Which company looks more bloated?

Re:Microsoft jokes aside, (3, Interesting)

qwijibo (101731) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375287)

All large organizations work that way. There is no way to have a cohesive vision for so many people. No one really knows where the gold is either. Anyone who has one good cash cow can spend a lot of time and money trying to find the next one. Having 99 out of 100 projects completely fail is perfectly acceptable if the 1 that works makes enough money to cover all of the failures. Small companies try to find the next big thing, but need a high success rate or they go out of business. Large companies are no better at finding the next big thing, but they are better at sticking through the multitudes of failures that it takes to get something right that pays off to make it worthwhile.

Businesses don't need to be innovative. They just need to keep money coming in. It doesn't really matter if you try to do one thing well or if you exploit your market position to get away with doing something barely good enough. In either situation, you get the money and that's all the business cares about. Doing something better than your competetor is good enough to bring the money in.

Re:Microsoft jokes aside, (1)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375493)

Are you kidding? Gathering people who want to do cool stuff and giving them the resources is the only thing that's brought about real innovation. Do you think that Da Vinci or Newton would have been as productive as they were if they were under a deadline to do it? Heck, Einstein came up with relativity while he was sitting bored at work!

If I were given all the resources I could want and given 20% of my work week to do something cool, I'd be happier than a pig in slop and put out some really cool stuff. I've got a bunch of great ideas that I'd like to do, but don't have the financial capacity or free time to bring them to reality. If my job allowed it, I'd work on it there because it would add value to their products.

Balmer hates Google, film at 11 (4, Interesting)

MythoBeast (54294) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374923)

Um, why is this news? "Insane" is hardly a quantifiable value. So Balmer doesn't understand Google's business plan. Maybe Google is just building a brain trust while looking for the next big thing. Balmer is also doing a pretty good job at mischaracterizing Google's effort by calling it "a bunch of programmers doing their own thing", as if they're working completely without direction. I repeat, why are Balmer's completely uninformative ravings about Google news?

Re:Balmer hates Google, film at 11 (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375413)

Most people don't understand Google's business plan outside of their very profitable internet search and advertising model. It's one big experiment and you can either be excited about it being something new or you can be nervous about it being something new.

"brain trust" is not a business model is what I think Steve's argument is about, which is a pretty reasonable argument in my opinion.

800 lb. Gorilla... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18374927)

...meet the 900 lb. Gorilla

Cute? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18374933)

Cute \Cute\ (k[=u]t), a. [An abbrev. of acute.]
          1. Clever; sharp; shrewd; ingenious; cunning. [Colloq.]
                [1913 Webster]

rebuttal (5, Insightful)

psbrogna (611644) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374935)

'I don't really know that anybody's proven that a random collection of people doing their own thing actually creates value."


It doesn't sound like Mr. Balmer's been paying that close attention to the FOSS phenomenon. As far as I can tell a random bunch of people doing their own thing for the last 10-20 yrs have achieved just as much as traditional software business models, in some case more and in more profound & lasting ways.

Re:rebuttal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18375243)

I thought the same thing when I heard his comments. I'd just add that if your definition of value is profit than his statements hold more weight. Linux operating systems are really good for many things but if your trying to sell it and grow as large as Microsoft or even Apple I think it is safe to say you will have a difficult time. Red Hat seems to have the best model followed closely by Novell. Of the two I think Novell is shrinking and Red Hat is growing. In time they may grow larger but reselling Open Source software is a very difficult business to be in.

Re:rebuttal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18375267)

As far as I can tell a random bunch of people doing their own thing for the last 10-20 yrs...

Don't fool yourself, n00b. Open source is an old model in the computer industry, not a new one. I guess you Johny Come Latelys don't recall the days when code was shared openly in magazines and users groups. We didn't need the GPL. We didn't need the infighting. And we sure as hell didn't need to pat ourselves on the back for doing what we enjoyed doing. We didn't run down the streets and scream "we code and share code. if you don't you just a fucktard". Thankfully we didn't have a bunch of whiners who claimed to be one of "us" but was nothing more than a bunch of non-coding leeches who thought that development should be a fashion trend and not a personal passion.

Being a product of that generation of coders makes me look at todays "open source" movement and shrug.

Re:rebuttal (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375277)

As far as I can tell a random bunch of people doing their own thing for the last 10-20 yrs have achieved just as much as traditional software business models, in some case more and in more profound & lasting ways.

I think it's pretty clear that Free Software has achieved more in less time than proprietary software. The upstarts are becoming the leaders, or are at least working on overtaking the entrenched commercial solutions, in basically every category. OpenOffice.org honestly isn't the equal of (for example) Microsoft Office, but it's been around for a lot less time and it's made vastly more progress per unit of time. Same with the gimp vs. photoshop, scribus vs. quark/indesign, etc etc.

Now that people have actually been spending money to support Free software development on a significant scale, it's taking over even more rapidly. I don't think you necessarily get as much of an improvement in output per dollar spent, but since there's so much done that you don't have to pay for, you end up getting more for your money anyway.

Re:rebuttal (1)

Xuranova (160813) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375391)

Everyone keeps mentioning this. The thing that seems to be forgotten is the FOSS movement isn't being paid a salary by a single source. If the FOSS "Inc" started paying whatever Google pays to their employees, how long would FOSS Inc stay in business? Would they have the cash reserve and revenue that Google and MS have? This is at the core of what Balmer is hinting at. How long can Google continue hiring at the rate they do while relying one 1 or 2 products and the rest of them "failing" and still be in the financial condition that they are in?

Have some cheese with that whine (3, Interesting)

OglinTatas (710589) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374941)

First, Microsoft can treat its employees better if they are having trouble attracting the caliber of employees google hires. Or they can continue as they are doing now, and petition Congress for more H1-B visas. But if they do that, then it really is more about getting good programmers cheaply rather than attracting the highest caliber programmers at any cost.

Second, if Mr. Balmer is correct, and Google doesn't have a sound or sustainable business, then it really doesn't matter; in a few years Google will implode, and Microsoft can sweep up all the Google alumni it wants.

Re:Have some cheese with that whine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18375173)

You really should be objecting to outsourcing, not H1-Bs (as in... Microsoft opening developer centers in India, etc.) Oh, and by the way, Linus Torvalds is a foreigner.

Random people obeying PHB's doesn't, either... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18374947)

Maybe nobody's ever proven that "a random collection of people doing their own thing actually creates value," but I once worked for a Fortune 500 company whose R&D department was a carefully selected collection of talented people doing what clueless managers told them to do, and that didn't seem to create much value, either.

In fact, the value that had been created in the past got destroyed, amazingly throughly and astonishing quickly.

Jobless soon enough (1)

starbuckr0x (1073378) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374953)

If that's really the case, then there are going to be a lot of unemployed folks living in Mountain View once they start cleaning house. Honestly, though, it sounds like Microsoft can't keep up with competing for "best and brightest"...whatever that means, these days!

(Insane) Pot calling the kettle black? (3, Funny)

tylersoze (789256) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374965)

Developers! Developers! Developers!

Re:(Insane) Pot calling the kettle black? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18375485)

Google! Google! Google!

Insane! Insane! Insane!

Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!

Microsoft is now the old IBM (4, Insightful)

pubjames (468013) | more than 7 years ago | (#18374999)


I remember Bill Gates once saying that his worst fear for Microsoft was to become the next IBM - in other words, a big slow moving business with many levels of bureaucracy (this was some years ago and he was talking about the "old" IBM).

Well, it looks like Bills worst nightmare has come true, as evidenced by Ballmers comments. Google is now what Microsoft used to be - a lot of small teams working on their own projects without levels of bureaucracy interfering.

Straw Men (5, Insightful)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375015)

'I don't really know that anybody's proven that a random collection of people doing their own thing actually creates value.'


Google is not a random collection. You don't need to prove anything. Ballmer is not the authority on the matter. They are not all doing their own thing.

This is a CEO?

google 2015 (3, Funny)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375035)

Wait till google gets into the operating system business, then youll hear some whining.

google 1984 (1)

Stephan Seidt (803125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375289)

i'd give you a double-plus Insightful on that, but i ran out of moderation points..

once.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18375057)

once i went to school with this big black guy he wore glasses and had a fro like all bluckguys had in the 80's he was very tall and big but no fat we called him cheesecakes brown and we assumed he had a phenomenal penis

kthxbye

Memo to Ballmer (trolling Ballmer) (3, Insightful)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375093)

"A bunch of people doing their own thing", as you put it, is how the FOSS movement was started and largely continues. Your (Microsoft's) SEC filings indicate that you view FOSS as your major competitive threat. So, how insane is it?

Growth is hard (1)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375101)

As much as I loath the garbageware generated by Ballmer's 70,000 minions (today is "fun with MS Word" day), he is correct that high growth is extremely hard to sustain.

If a company doubles in size every year, it means that half the employees have less than a year's experience before they need to hire the next layer of people. With so many fresh faces, its extremely hard to create a cohesive culture. And if you look at the labor it takes to find good employees (not just smart ones, but good ones), then you can see that either Google workers spend a large fraction of their time hiring (and not doing their jobs) or, if they do their actual jobs, then they are hiring sloppily. Inevitably, the A-level people are forced to hire B-level people and the B-level people are hiring C-level people.

Re:Growth is hard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18375191)

No kidding... when I was interviewed to Google this year I went through at least 3 different hiring coordinators and 10 interviewers before they stopped wasting my time :)

Re:Growth is hard (1)

cbelle13013 (812401) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375423)

It reminds me a lot of Ebay back in 1999/2000. They went from something like 2 million users in 1999 to 10 million users in 2000. Well thats all well and good, its near impossible to sustain that type of high growth. Since then they've purchased PayPal (which has a lot of growth opportunities) and moved into auto/boat/house sales. Even if they make a move to be more international, there are a lot of companies that copied them and started before they had a chance to move.

Compare that to Google. They make their money off advertising, Google Earth, and Google Apps premium. Their entry into radio advertising has not been anywhere near the success they were anticipating. In the past two years their growth has surged but it is not sustainable at the current rate. Now if they could double up their efforts on Google Apps and make it a realistic replacement for Exchange/Office, they'd have a new fantastic avenue for growth.

Is he saying .... (1)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375109)

That a random collection of people doing their own thing actually DOESN'T create value?


Because that's what society is. You know, the capitalist individualistic one that he exploited to become rich?

In other news (0, Offtopic)

Guaranteed (998819) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375123)

Microsoft's Xbox divisions posts a $289 loss in the second quarter.

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/content_page.php?aid= 22385 [gamesindustry.biz]

Re:In other news (4, Funny)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375195)

Microsoft's Xbox divisions posts a $289 loss in the second quarter.

So they have to sell one copy of Windows Vista to compensate. Big deal...

Re:In other news (3, Funny)

Guaranteed (998819) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375201)

This is what happens when you get overeager to slam MS. I mean $289 million dollars, not $289 dollars. I previewed for formatting but not for stupidity.

The Infinite Monkey Theorem (2, Informative)

brsmith4 (567390) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375187)

I don't really know that anybody's proven that a random collection of people doing their own thing actually creates value.

If a million monkeys randomly typing away on a million typewriters will eventually write Shakespear, I imagine that thousands of PhD's, post-grads, and other well-educated monkeys engaged in semi-random but structured projects, working on high-powered workstations will be able to deliver as well.

There's even a proof!

The Infinite Monkey Theorem [wikipedia.org]

Re:The Infinite Monkey Theorem (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375231)

Doesn't make it cost effective, or a good investment. From a wall street point of view, you have to realize that they see a company that hires as many people as it can, then lets them goof off for 20% of their work week (thats how they see it).

Can someone clarify? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18375203)

Did he mean "throwing a chair" insane, or just "monkey dance" insane?

Time will tell. (2, Interesting)

goodmike (65197) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375247)

Ballmer's dismissal of Google's depth is interesting coming on the heels of the Slashdot post a couple of items down about a potential Google mobile phone. Is that 'cute'? Or could such a phone actually realize the kinds of service convergence people have been wishing for almost as long as flying cars? And probably be half the cost of the iPhone.

The question of the 20% time is very interesting. One of the innovations Enron touted was how its employees were free to work on whatever projects they wanted. Then it turned out Enron really was only good at trading energy, and not good enough at that. On the other hand, Google is delivering. Things like the phone will determine how deep they get. I think skeptical optimism is the stance to take.

On the hiring note, of course Google can't keep up its hiring practices forever. They'd run out of warm human bodies eventually. More broadly, I heard Chad Fowler last month note that as baby boomers retire, there won't be enough developers in the US to take the software jobs the boomers leave behind. Even tapping talent overseas and outsourcing like mad, there's likely to be tremendous demand. I liked the comment that someone in the gathering made to Fowler's observation: then let's hire fewer developers.

Never doubt... (1)

captainjaroslav (893479) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375261)

...that a random collection of people doing their own thing actually creates value, in fact, it's the only thing that ever has. - With apologies to Margaret Mead

IBM says Gates/Allen Venture Insane (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375265)

Amid the rising use by business customers of Microsoft software on micro computers, IBM has put out a press release concerning the upstart firm. Sources at IBM are quoted as saying that the growth of Microsoft was 'Insane" and any notion that the firm had a bright future was "ridiculous". The source was further quoted as saying "the only reason MS can sell products so cheap, is that the development costs are low due to the fact that they steal computer time worth millions of dollars from the US taxpayer. As soon as the taxpayer is no longer subsidizing the development, Microsoft will be no more. Furthermore, the Intel platform cannot compete with our recently developed RISC technology"

IBM is confident of it position as the dominant supplier to the Business market. Although it plans to supply microcomputers, using the Intel/Microsoft platform, it sees the bulk of the market continuing to use IBM mainframes, rather than the microcomputer toy. The home computer, while interesting, will continue to operate primarily as a terminal. IBM sees a time when the home computer will dial into a mainframe in which all applications and data will be safely and securely stored. IBM does not see the home user as having the technological skills to maintain or secure a home computer, and therefore dial in access will continue to dominate. IBM plans to be in the forefront of such dial in services, as the company that has the foresight to capitalize on such services will the company that controls the home market. By contrast, companies that arrive late to the party, will be left behind.

Why does Steve Get Newstime? (4, Funny)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375273)

Does anyone actually care what Steve says?

Re:Why does Steve Get Newstime? (3, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375299)

For the same reason Dorkvorak gets recognition here: to start flame wars.

Successful Business??? (1)

larry2k (592744) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375305)

(FTA) and the company has few successful businesses outside of Internet search and advertising

.

Microsoft has few successful businesses outside of Windows XP and Office, Vista is 'cute'.

Lack of Good Programmers? (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375309)

When coming out of college and looking for a job, I had about 7 years worth of C experience. But particular companies wanted C++ experience. They weren't willing to take the risk, which is their prerogative. But it made be skeptical of claims of lack of quality programmers. It just might mean that there is no thing as a zero-risk hire. Or you may have to do more pre-screening.

Oh Steven... (1)

6-tew (1037428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375359)

I personally like to picture Ballmer wide-eyed and frothing at the mouth when he speaks, wherever he speaks. In an elevator, at the dinner table, playing canasta. I think that image and the one of him flailing about on stage like a man possessed, when combined and held in the mind's eye, give an interesting image of what the Microsoft CEO is like. That image is of insanity. I liken him to a bully who just likes to talk shit because he can't find anything else to say. That's all he does. Apple's iPod makes him laugh, even as it manhandles the Zune. Linux-slminux, they're just filthy hippies and flunkies anyway. Google? Don't even get him started, they hire skilled people to do R&D on projects that haven't matured, what fools! And they still make money, don't they know anything about running a company?

Really, this man needs help.

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