Tom Webster, writing and speaking

Google+ and "Failing Fast"

Added on by Tom Webster.

There has been a lot of speculation about Google+ lately since the announcement that the project's head, Vic Gundotra, has left the company. On this week's Marketing Companion, Mark Schaefer and I have a wonderful conversation about Google+, and where this platform goes from here. 

I don't know that anyone can say Google+ has "failed" (look at your search results sometime), and I don't think it was ever intended to be Google's "Facebook." But one thing really intrigues me about Google, the company: just how many products and services they have pulled the plug on. The list is long, and (maddeningly) includes a number of services I used and loved: Reader, Notebook, Feedburner, Wave, Buzz--even Google Labs itself. They even tried Audio and Print ads. They've tried, and seemingly failed, at a lot of non-search products and services.

When I commented about this on my Facebook feed, the super smart Jason Keath (the man behind the plan at the wonderful Social Fresh conferences) reminded me that trying and failing fast was a key attribute for successful entrepreneurs. And he is 100% right that this is exactly how VC's manage portfolios--you take 20 risks, and statistically one pays off big.

I can't argue with that. I will note, though, that I wonder why Google has to fail fast? I am thinking here about the experience of another large American company--Microsoft. When Microsoft launched the original XBox, it was not a resounding success. Sony and Nintendo had the "hot properties," and the original XBox didn't exactly print money. But Microsoft used its strategic moat to manage this property--its enormous cash reserves. What some saw as "throwing money away" by Microsoft was simply leveraging an asset that its competitors didn't have--buckets of cash. Today, the XBox is a pretty viable competitor.

So, I'm a bit torn on this one--failing fast may be good advice for a bootstrapped startup, but does Google always need to fail fast? I loved Reader. I loved Feedburner. Enough to pay for them. I thought Wave was pretty cool. I lost some Notebooks. Will Drive follow suit? I dunno. But even having that question pop into my head makes me slightly nervous about all my Google Docs.

Mark and I discuss this, and many more Google-rific things, on this week's Marketing Companion. Enjoy--and let us know your thoughts and comments!


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