The opaqueness of "Be Not Evil"


It is annoyingly hard to understand how to break up Google.

This is not exactly news, as in current news, but is important. Five months ago Tim Bray, who has worked, among other companies, for Amazon Web Services and Google, blogged about “Why and how we should break up Google”. If you want to know how much money Google made, and how, exactly, it could and should be broken up in “four successor organization, read that post.

This post only uses some quotes from Bray’s, to make the general point presented at the end. But before that…

Why break Google up?

The opaqueness of "Be Not Evil" /img/google-dont-be-evil.jpg

In general, because monopolies are bad for real innovation and the real economy. In this case because, among other things, “[in Google Maps] potential for destructive corruption is crazy high”.

Now, the “annoyance”

  • Google Apps and Google Maps are both huge presences in the tech economy. Are they paying for themselves, or are they using search advertising revenue as rocket fuel? Nobody outside Google knows.

  • Gmail: Some of its users see ads, but plenty don’t. So what’s going on there? It can’t be that cheap to run. Where’s the money?!

  • Android: it’s deeply weird that the world’s most popular operating system has costs and revenues that nobody actually knows.

  • YouTube: has become the visual voice of several generations and is too important to leave hidden inside an opaque conglomerate. Is it a money-spinner or strictly a traffic play? Nobody knows.

That’s the point: opaqueness

Nobody knows: “Google’s published financials are annoyingly opaque…. They break out a few segments but (unlike Amazon) only by revenue, there’s nothing about profitability.”

Can this be tolerable by any company that has such a large influence and control on society?

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