Fred at Wired’s Epicenter blog has a useful “found” interview from 2005 with Google’s Schmidt. Funniest part: How Google’s BinPage were so pissed at Oracle install costs that they nearly wrote a Quicken killer. Luckily, I think, they surmounted their own NIH problem.
For example, we had an accounting system which was an Intuit based system designed for five users, and they were using it for 20 people. It was too slow to use, so I suggested that they implement an Oracle system. It was a huge crisis. We ended up spending $100,000 for this. Larry and Sergey nearly had a cow over it (because they thought it was so expensive). A hundred thousand dollars is the cheapest Oracle system ever implemented in history I think.
How did you convince them that you needed to do this?
Well, it was actually very interesting. Larry and Sergey suggested that we should build our own, because most of the existing accounting systems weren’t any good. And I said, “I’m sure that’s true, but you’ll never get it audited,” And I thought that was a pretty clever argument. The auditors would never pass financials (generated out of software) that we built ourselves. And Larry and Sergey today will complain about the Oracle system, but they’ll also say “We had to get one that was auditable.”
I’ve always said that if the company were founded today on an empty lot, we would build the buildings brick by brick. We can’t imagine someone else building our buildings, we’d have to build it ourselves. This is a build-it-yourself culture. The good news is there’s no free land, and so we have to rent the buildings, rather than build them. But the culture is around building things. In that sense, by the way, it’s similar to some of the companies (Intel, Dell, Sony) that I mentioned earlier.