Boy it sure has been a busy official first week of the Larry Page era at Google. If current events are any indication it looks like there may be some interesting times ahead.
Why is that? Well, according to the Business Insider, Page has tied 25% of all employee bonuses for 2011 to the success or failure of Google’s social media efforts.
New Google CEO Larry Page, who stepped into the job this week, believes that Google needs to go “social” to compete.
“This is a joint effort so it’s important that we all get behind it,” we’re told Page writes in the confidential memo, subject-lined “2011 Bonus Multiplier.”
Page tells employees that are not directly involved in Google’s social efforts that they, too, will be held accountable. He writes that employees must test the products and give feedback.
Page wants these employees to push Google’s social products on their “family and friends.”
“When we release products, try them and encourage your family and friends to do the same.”
So let’s do a little quick math here. Add this information about how Google needs to be social to compete to a history of failed social efforts. Then add the final piece of the puzzle which is Page’s move to give engineers more say in how Google’s business is done and you get what? I say a train wreck that is caused by engineers of the software and algorithm kind not the diesel engine kind.
The idea that people who are not known for their social skills will be creating social products and that their financial success is tied to these efforts is, well, almost comical. Is it possible that Google’s obsession with hiring only the smartest of the smart has removed them so far from the real world that wouldn’t be able to construct a real social product if their status as geek gods depended on it?
But Page is convinced that this is the way to go. There is a screenshot in another Business Insider article that is of an internal FAQ to Googlers about the plan. The quick write up tells of how these bonuses are held against how Google
“perform[s] against our strategy to integrate relationships, sharing and identity across our products.”
“We all have a stake in the success of this effort and this multiplier is designed to reflect that.”
I would like to see Google pull this off but honestly I think they are in over their heads. I realize this is just my opinion because I haven’t spoken to any Google insiders. But you can see when a company is struggling in areas. Add to all of this that Google is paying out ridiculous amounts to key employees to keep them from jumping to Twitter and this whole deal smells weird.
Is Google so fearful that the social web will leave them in the dust that they are getting desperate? Considering their track record that seems to make some sense. The bigger question is how will this seemingly over the top focus on a social Google impact their cash cow search business? Would they ever put that at risk?
While this all makes for interesting speculation the real test will be when they roll out however they plan to integrate sharing, relationships and identity across their products. Until then they are only as good as their social track record and that might cause more than a few Googlers to consider life with less of a bonus.
What do you think Google’s chances are in the social realm? Is it something they can engineer or is it just a great Internet powerhouse heading down a track to disaster?