And with that, a dream dies. Well, maybe that's a bit sensational, but we aren't going to lie -- we wept inside upon hearing Google's Bradley Horowitz (Vice President of Product Management) contritely state that his company is "doing less of throwing things against the wall." In fact, he proclaimed that Google+ was morphing into a platform that would absolutely, without question become a pillar across the company in some form or fashion. In other words, it's too big to fail. He stated that the idea of using the general public as a test bed for products (hello, Buzz!) was fading quickly, and that this "transformation" would be "very healthy" for Google. He did affirm that engineers are still given their token "20 percent time" in order to innovate on whatever they darn well please, but we seriously got the impression that the culture under Larry Page isn't focusing nearly as intently on that kind of frivolous, outlandish and absolutely marvelous behavior.
Bradley noted that while "20 percent time" isn't going away, there are changes taking place. There's a "higher bar on what gets put to market, and more of an editing function than before." Continuing on, he stated the following: "Instead of making these decisions in the market... we're doubling-down on ones that are more important across the company." If you're a hardcore, orthodox businessperson, this sounds totally logical. The whole "stop being childish, start being responsible" thing sure sounds appropriate on paper, but c'mon -- this is Google! A huge part of the company's mystique, charm and spontaneous nature came in its "we'll try anything once" persona, and if that truly is dying in even a small way, we can't help but have a heavy heart. The further Google strays from its startup roots (and the more it tries to act like every other bureaucratic mega-corp), the less likely we are to get flops like Google TV. But on the same token, the less likely we are to have that one-in-a-million hit (and oddballs like this) that would've never proved viable in any "research group." Here's one final quote from Bradley when asked to elaborate on this corporate shift:
"We would rather do fewer things well -- we're now on a path to remedy prior sins of omissions. I think it's a tradeoff [with losing some of the freewheeling autonomy]. I still think there's a tremendous part of Google culture that'll never change, but what's exciting is that the company is rallying around this, and [the employees] see the benefits of alignment. We've won the hearts of employees, and there's tremendous momentum on what we're doing. My experience is that Larry is a consummate product leader -- it's thrilling, it feels like the company is coordinated in a way that I've never seen. I don't know that it's just Larry, but I couldn't be more impressed with him as CEO. I didn't expect this level of change in company culture when that announcement was made."