Aug 22, 2006

Users NOT Money

Marissa Mayer, VP Search Products & User Experiences at Google, had an interesting talk on Stanford University last month. Within Google, there are 9 rules defining the innovative culture of Google;
1. Ideas comes from everywhere: Google Maps was an innovation that came from an acquisition of a small specialized company. Google News came from a personal project of a developer (Krisna Barath) to make reading news and keeping up with everchanging developments more efficient.
2. Share everything you can: you need less managers when you have access to all information. Not being territorial on ideas.
3. You’re brilliant, We’re hiring! Working with brilliant people makes you better.
4. License to pursue dreams: at Google 20% of your time working on something you want to work on (personal project, called an ‘20% project’).
5. Innovation, not instant perfection! Pre-releasing ‘rough’ applications isn’t a bad thing, dare to make mistakes. But listen to users, most of the time they will answer your questions (in no time).
6. Data = apolitical! Unfreeze people from personal opinions pinning them on data.
7. Creativity loves constraints! Having no contraints is intimidating.
8. Users not Money!
9. Don’t kill projects.

Of course, you’ve heard this all before…..

‘Ideas comes from everywhere’ – no need for comment!!
‘Working with brilliant people makes you better’ is similar to a famous quote of David Ogilvy; ‘Only hire people who are bigger than you (otherwise you’ll end up with a company of dwarfs).
‘Innovation, not instant perfection’ has been the policy of Microsoft from the beginning (also piracy).

Some rules seems like ‘playing’ with words;
Constraints are asking for creativity (not the other way around).
What’s the difference between killing a project and freezing one (to dead ultimately follows)?

The principle ‘Users NOT Money’ was fundamental to a lot of dotcom’s before the burst of the internet bubble. But nowadays companies like Digg, Flickr,, Youtube are proving that you can be succesful without a predefined business case. Didn’t we learn anything from the dotcom burst back in 2001/2002? I think we did, but the start up’s today don’t ask for huge investments, so if it goes wrong (and still a lot of start ups doesn’t survive the first year), there is not that much damage. Digg started with 2500 US dollar and it’s now worth more than 4 million (because they rejected this offer).

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