This NY Times article (site requires free registration to access) re Google's (GOOG) increasing penetration (read: stranglehold) of cloud computing (search this blog's archives for previous posts re Google and cloud computing) is informed, informative, excellent, interesting, entertaining, and worthy of your time. Especially so for long time Google investors, as the article's author also manages to squeeze in some crucial insights/updates re Google's progress to a fully-formed business leader from former "one-trick pony"...
Early this month, Google released new cellphone software, with the code-name Grand Prix. A project that took just six weeks to complete, Grand Prix allows for fast and easy access to Google services like search, Gmail and calendars through a stripped-down mobile phone browser (for now, it is tailored for iPhone browsers, but the plan is to make it work on other mobile browsers as well).
Grand Prix was born when a Google engineer, tinkering on his own one weekend, came up with prototype code and e-mailed it to Vic Gundotra, a Google executive who oversees mobile products. Mr. Gundotra then showed the prototype to Mr. Schmidt, who in turn mentioned it to Mr. Brin. In about an hour, Mr. Brin came to look at the prototype.
“Sergey was really supportive,” recalls Mr. Gundotra, saying that Mr. Brin was most intrigued by the “engineering tricks” employed. After that, Mr. Gundotra posted a message on Google’s internal network, asking employees who owned iPhones to test the prototype. Such peer review is common at Google, which has an engineering culture in which a favorite mantra is “nothing speaks louder than code.”
As co-workers dug in, testing Grand Prix’s performance speed, memory use and other features, “the feedback started pouring in,” Mr. Gundotra recalls. The comments amounted to a thumbs-up, and after a few weeks of fine-tuning and fixing bugs, Grand Prix was released. In the brief development, there were no formal product reviews or formal approval processes.
Mr. Gundotra joined Google in July, after 15 years at Microsoft (MSFT). He says that he always considered Microsoft to be the epicenter of technological development, but that the rise of cloud computing forced him to reconsider.
“It became obvious that Google was the place where I could have the biggest impact,” he says. “For guys like me, who have a love affair with software, being able to ship a product in weeks — that’s an irresistible draw.”
Another draw is Google’s embrace of experimentation and open-ended job assignments. Recent college graduates are routinely offered jobs at Google without being told what they will be doing. The company does this partly to keep corporate secrets locked up, but often it also doesn’t know what new hires will be doing.
Seems to me that we, as investors and consumers, can continue to expect a platter full of exciting new products for a good while to come. Talk about (the pace of) accelerating change!
Full Disclosure: Long the shares of Google/GOOG.