Marissa Loves Paul

John Krystnak thinks that in a video Google’s Marissa Mayer effectively rebuts my recent calls for Google to work on a product rather than just launch ’em. John’s being somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but I still heartily disagree (as you might expect).

Mayer has some perfectly pleasant ready-for-HBR ideas, but in practical terms her talk is loopy and full of self-congratulatory silliness and ex post rationalizations. For example, it’s easy to say “Don’t kill projects, morph them” when you’re wallowing in AdSense cashflow, but let’s be real. Most companies would do far better to ignore that piece of advice and kill stuff instead.  Anyway, none of what Mayer says refutes my core point that there is precious little sign that one-product Google might do well, eventually, to find some way to diversify its sales base.

As an unavoidably personal aside, Mayer’s nervous, Tom Hulce-as-Amadeus giggle throughout her talk is unnerving. Sorry. I had to say it.


  1. Definitely more than a little horse-like, although not quite Amadeus quality (Tom Hulce should have won an Oscar for that alone). But then, Marissa is a software engineer — “normal” laughs are probably a rarity in that target group.

  2. Yes, a more suitable laugh would be Herbert Lom’s Chief Inspector Dreyfus driven mad by Clouseau. You know where you stand with a laugh like that.

  3. It’s interesting to hear her get her arithmetic wrong about the value of 20% time. It’s not what percentage of ‘products’ come from 20% time: think about what percentage of 20% time gets converted to product.
    As for 20% time, this is as old as the hills – definitely not invented by Google. I was doing 20% time in my first job at Edinburgh University.