Q: Wasn't it just yesterday that Google was the coolest company on the planet? The New York Times says the online giant is now seen by techies as a lumbering behemoth, and employees are starting to leave for more nimble companies. Is it possible for an innovator to stay in the lead indefinitely, or is there always a "hungrier" competitor right around the corner? Do large companies offer the same shot at success, or do workers usually have to break away to seek the greater rewards?
Behemoth for sure, but lumbering? Not so much! I realize it's in vogue for the SuperNerds to say that the companies leading the way are already dinosaurs. It's an easy way to get people to view you as ahead of the curve. If only these guys could apply their savvy approach to actually getting a date!
Let's separate the data from the drama. Google handles more than 70 percent of Internet search traffic; the company's market share has grown 16 percent since January. Google also has more than triple the market share of Yahoo, its closest competitor. With all its advertising, Bing still has less popularity than the irreversibly dead crooner Bing Crosby. And with Microsoft browsers automatically set up to search Bing, seemingly forcing older people to "Bing" against their will, I'm sure one of the top search terms on Bing is "Google."
The up-and-comers are doing well, no doubt because the younger, midsize-company CEOs with fewer employees and much more hair gel can take risks that the fat cats wouldn't take for fear of slimming down.
It's easy to say a smaller firm offers more opportunity, but the truth of that claim depends on your definition of opportunity. If you consider freedom and creativity more important than stability, then yes, there's plenty of opportunity. But the truth is that most people are not risk takers. In fact, the smartest people are not known for their tendency to take chances.
Employee training programs can't create the desire to just "roll the dice" and see what happens. That's why a lot of really successful people are not geniuses. (Warren Buffet and Britney Spears have the same IQ!) Check out the parking lot of a Mensa meeting and you'll see a lot of junky cars and bicycles. As ridiculous and disturbing as it sounds, smarter people are often not dumb enough to succeed! So if you think your boss is stupid, remember that he or she is probably just smart enough to be your boss.
Most successful tech companies are founded by hungry, compulsive dropouts who then turn it over to smarter, better-educated executives who either stop taking the chances that scare investors away or water down the cutting-edge offerings to increase profits. This is how a start-up becomes stable, safe, valuable and, well, really boring for some.
So it's natural for founders or innovators who still have the desire to go out on a limb and possibly fail, knowing full well they might end up managing a Circuit City store in South Dakota (I've got nothing against that state -- it just seems that a lot of people who live there are in the witness protection program), to go where the innovation is taking place. Change is the fuel the future needs to exist. Action and flexibility create opportunity.
If this all sounds too simple and risky, then I guess you know where you want to work!
Posted by: OhMyGoodness1 | December 9, 2010 4:31 PM
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