Strategy: Kill Google

One of the most interesting business phenomenons of our day is the rise and rise of Google. If the dominance of Google was not evident then the latest headlines should be enlightening to you. Microsoft has made a hostile bid for Yahoo. Why is a company so infamously “organic” going after a humongous acquisition? After a decade of trying to crack the puzzle, Microsoft has admitted defeat. It’s $44 B hostile bid for Yahoo is all that it appears to be – admission of an ignominious defeat at the hands of an upstart. Google rules as Microsoft drools. Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat its mistakes Ironically, what Microsoft did to IBM some 30 years ago has happened to them. Microsoft came into being on the back of IBM. Then it pounced on its sleeping giant benefactor and the rest is history. Google rose on the back of Yahoo. Then it pounced on its hapless sleeping giant benefactor and well, the rest is history in the making. History repeats itself. Those who do not pay attention are history as a result. Those who do, make history. In 1980, IBM was a 20,000 lb elephant - dominant but oblivious of its surroundings and complacent to boot. The company was – and still is – the most brilliant force in technology innovation. Other than AT&T’s Bell Labs and their endless innovations I cannot think of another company that has dominated the landscape of technology innovation like IBM. IBM ruled because it had no competition. The Hitachi and ICL’s of the world just could not compete. Cray – the supercomputing genius - was a bright light that burnt out fast. Digital, Wang et al. were very good companies but they were no match for IBM in its core business – mainframes. There were no players in the Software arena that deserve mention in this discussion.   This unmatched ability had resulted in a mile long lead so the hare lay down under a tree and went to sleep. Comfortable in the knowledge that the tortoise was far behind and an afternoon nap is just what the doctor ordered. This story did not take its usual course with the tortoise slowly but surely marching across the finish line. It took an unusual turn when another hare aka Microsoft entered the race and hopped its way to a comfortable lead. (To be accurate, there were many other “hare” – SUN Microsystems being one of them - who entered the race and hopped gloriously but we want to stick to our main storyline. Any further discussion on these companies would be a distraction so we will stay away from it.) Of course, the tortoise also caught up to the hare. HP (+Digital+Compaq) is dominating the hardware markets and giving IBM a run for its money. Sorry folks, this is a live race so we do not know who will cross the proverbial finish line! The good news is that the hare woke up in time. It is stronger and running faster than at any time in its history. Lou Gerstner made IBM what it is today - a much stronger company today than it ever was. But that story is for another day! This is a good story but it raises more questions than provides answers. Your inquiring mind wants to know and we want to tell. Unfortunately, it will have to wait till next week! About the Author: Sourabh Hajela is a management consultant and trainer with over 20 years of experience creating shareholder value for his Fortune 50 clients. His consulting practice is focused on IT strategy, alignment and ROI. For more information, please visit Or feel free to contact Sourabh at [email protected]

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