I guess I'm a little tired (and admittedly envious) of all the hype and adulation that surround Google. Clearly the company is doing a lot of things right. How else can you explain its unstoppable revenue and earnings growth?
However, I'd still bet against some of Google's choices. One strategy I disagree with is Google's often-cited policy that its engineers can devote up to 20% of their work time to personal research projects. Google justifies this as an investment in innovation presumably because its talented employees will cook up some new ideas that will, over time, flourish into billion-dollar businesses. This August 2005 Always On article does a decent job overviewing Google's innovation efforts.
But every entrepreneur knows it takes a *lot* more than a 20% effort to innovate. It takes more like 120%. I'd much rather bet on a charged-up entrepreneur who is fully dedicated to an innovation than on a Google engineer spending just a fraction of his time.
Of course I do find myself thinking (and asking entrepreneurs) about how a new startup plans to address the "Google risk," but it's not out of fear related to Google's 20% innovation time policy. In fact, I wonder if the 20% innovation time is really just a distraction from productive work for most of Google's staffers.
Meanwhile, I'm delighted to be working with and investing in entrepreneurs who give more than 100%, because it's impossible to get anything done with any less effort.