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Google IPO

Sat Nov 1 12:21:43 GMT 2003 Google IPO

Slashdot upset me by reporting that Google might be bought by Microsoft. Turns out that was not quite the case: apparently the two did talk, but Google has decided to go the IPO route, though possibly in an unusual way.

Microsoft wants to control everything, and search is a pretty important part of that, so it's expected that they will go after this market. However, buying Google has some wrinkles: for one thing, Google is powered by Linux. While Microsoft of course wouldn't have to worry about the expense of replacing all those Linux OSes (though they might have to upgrade hardware: Windows always needs more horsepower), you have to wonder what the porting effort would involve. Only Google knows that, but I can't think it would be trivial, and there is the real risk that performance would suffer. Highly embarrassing for Microsoft, of course.

And then there's the trust factor. While we have no particular reason to trust Google implicitly, we have no real distrust of them either, because they have no apparent axe to grind. Microsoft isn't quite in that position, and it is easy to imagine that both advertisers and users might abandon Googlesoft in large numbers. I know I would pull my ads, and would certainly use other search engines if this did happen.

However, it looks like there's nothing to worry about for now. If Google does handle its own IPO as rumored, I'm definitely going to look at putting some money into it, if for no other reason than to help keep the Microsoft Wolves at bay. I think Google would be both a good investment and a socially responsible choice. Count me in.



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"However, buying Google has some wrinkles: for one thing, Google is powered by Linux. While Microsoft of course wouldn't have to worry about the expense of replacing all those Linux OSes (though they might have to upgrade hardware: Windows always needs more horsepower), you have to wonder what the porting effort would involve."

If you recall, Microsoft did something similar when they acquired Hotmail. Gates ordered his people to replace the Solaris boxes that were running the service with Windows -- resulting in a substantial decrease in availability (gee, I wonder why). Eventually, they went back to the old way, because the new way didn't work very well.

As far as trust goes, I don't trust very much that shows up in search engines. After all, the decision to place citation A before citation B in search engine results is a subjective one, governed more by how much money changed hands than by true relevance.

--BigDumbDinosaur

Well, that certainly isn't true of Google. My placement alone proves that.

--TonyLawrence

Your site is, I believe, atypical in the search-engine world. I can't think of any other site devoted to UNIX that has the depth and breadth of yours, so your position on Google returns is indictative of what you have to offer.

However, if there were ten sites of equal depth and breadth (though not necessarily of equal quality), I'm not sure Google would put yours at the top. Who knows what behind-the-scenes machinations may go on that would favor another, less-deserving site over yours.

--BigDumbDinosaur

Well, Google can only judge quality indirectly. They do it mostly by popularity: other sites linking in. But they also judge by the quality of the linking site: a "link farm" pointing at you does you little or no good, if I point at you it's pretty good, but if Microsoft points at you, it's really, really good. So it's all very incestuous.

--TonyLawrence






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