Blindfolded basketball, Part Two

So after talking to Eric about this blindfolded basketball technique it occurred to us that naturally the process can be sped up in direct relation to the number of players that are throwing up basketballs. So we thought it might make sense to enlist the millions of people outside of Google. Eric says it’s no use, since Google already hires all the smart people in the world. Or, as he put it, “If you’re not already working at Google, there’s a reason.”

But who knows? Sometimes a mob can create something beautiful. I mean look at Linux. Also, let’s be honest. The New Ideas Development Team at Google (right) isn’t exactly setting the world on fire. Folks, these kids need our help. Free sugary snacks alone cannot save this company. So in the spirit of open source collaboration (which Google loves because it means you give them your ideas for free) I am using my blog to host a competition to help Google find something else to do besides search-based text ads.


A few guidelines. In order to fit with Google’s established business model your business idea must be something where (a) other people do most of the work; (b) Google gets the money; and (c) it can remain in beta forever.

To save you time I’ve included below a list of businesses Google has already entered. Problem is pretty much all of these lose money. See, the Google kids are very smart and creative, but they all like to price their products at zero, in the theory that this will help them gain market share faster. (Crafty little fuckers, right? In fact they’re just following the Schwartz Theorem, devised by Jonathan Schwartz of Sun, which holds that market share grows in inverse proportion to price, with a zero-dollar price point translating to 100% market share. He’s even got a set of very cool-looking multi-colored charts showing how this works. Turns out, however, that this is another one of those Valley beliefs, like Metcalfe’s Law and the Long Tail Theory, which aren’t actually true if you bother to scrutinize them. The good news is that nobody out here ever scrutinizes anything. The mantra is, Believe, believe, believe.)

Eric, thanks to the wisdom of his years, realizes that you can’t have only loss leaders. At least a few of your ventures have to be able to make money on their own. So keep in mind as you’re dreaming up ideas that preference will be given to ideas that could possibly make money, though, strictly speaking, if history is any guide, potential profitability will not be an actual requirement to win the prize (which is a free copy of Google Docs and/or a ride on Google’s commercial spacecraft, which will be announced soon.)

Anyhoo, here’s the list:

  • Word processor in the cloud. Status: Done. Income: Negligible.
  • Spreadsheet in the cloud. Status: Done. Income: Negligible.
  • Photo storage in the cloud. Status: Done. Income: Negligible.
  • Calendar in the cloud. Status: Done. Income: Zero.
  • Google Earth. Status: Extremely cool.
  • Google Maps. Status: Done. Income: Zero.
  • Google Street View. Status: Not illegal, but should be.
  • Google Talk. Status: Done. Income: Zero.
  • Google Pack. Status: I know it’s around here someplace.
  • Google Ride Finder. Status: Still waiting to get picked up.
  • Google Transit. Status: Lost.
  • TV ads. Status: Uncertain.
  • Radio ads. Status: See “TV ads.”
  • Video game ads. Status: See “Radio ads.”
  • Patent searches. Status: Who cares?
  • RechargeIT hybrid car thing. See here. Status: Hybrid cars, dude.
  • Clean energy. See here. Status: Nice gesture.
  • Google Checkout. Status: Um …
  • Google SketchUp, 3-D modeling. Status: Alpha? Beta?
  • Robots on the moon prize. See here. Status: Robots, dude. On the freaking moon!
  • Google NASA. See here. Status: Awesome!
  • Neven Vision. Image recognition. (Acquired.) Status: Mindblowing.
  • YouTube videos. Status: Done. Income: Negligible.
  • Scanning books. Status: In process. Income: Zero.
  • Blogger. Status: Done. Income: Negligible.
  • RSS Reader. Status: Done. Income: Zero.
  • Google PC. Status: Vapor. Income: Zero.
  • Google OS. Status: Vapor. Income: Zero.
  • Gmail. Status: Done. Income: Negligible or zero.
  • Orkut. Status: Done. Income: Don’t know, I don’t speak Brazilian.
  • OpenSocial. Status: Pipe dream. Income: Zero.
  • VaporPhone ™. Status: Release-ware. Income: Zero.
  • Storage in the cloud. Status: Pre-alpha. Income: Negative.
  • Electricity. Status: Pre-vapor. Income: GBH. (Gonna Be Huge.)
  • Radio airwaves. Status: Bidding. Income: Zero.

Also, if you’re thinking that instead of just giving your idea to Google maybe you should create a company and sell it to them, well, here’s a list of companies they’ve acquired, and where possible we’ve provided dollar amounts so you can get some idea how much you can expect to make.

  • Adscape. $23 million.
  • Tonic Systems.
  • dMarc Broadcasting.
  • Marratech video conferencing software.
  • GreenBorder Technologies.
  • FeedBurner. $100 million. Brings in money.
  • PeakStream.
  • Zenter.
  • GrandCentral. $45 million.
  • ImageAmerica.
  • Postini. $625 million.
  • YouTube. $1.6 billion. (Note to self. Copy this one.)
  • Zingku.
  • Jaiku.
  • Dodgeball.