I’m Every Company?Posted: July 7, 2011 | |
Remember Whitney Houston’s song ‘I’m Every Woman?’ It was the nicer version of the commercial with the song, “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never, ever let you forget you’re a man, ’cause I’m a woman!” Both of which told a woman she better be / do everything to retain a man. There’s a very different blog post in response which may or may not include names like Tiger, Spitzer, Jesse, John Edwards, Christopher Lee, Arnold, Weiner, etc. which will remain unwritten. The post I’m writing now has rolled around my brain for the past month as I’ve tried hard to leave it unwritten too. But it just won’t die.
The Twittersphere has been all abuzz about Microsoft aligning with Facebook. Yesterday FB announced it’s incorporating MS owned Skype. Google has launched Google+. Apple is planning iPhone 5. Everyone is speculating who’s buying Twitter. There have been many blog posts and articles written lately and unknown number of tweets announcing: “It’s ON!” Or as someone replied to my RT of this tweet: “What does it mean when MS/Skype joins FB?” “Face Off.” Did you see that movie? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Face/Off That response very nicely epitomizes why I’m writing this blog post.
Recently I had a conversation with my older sister, who was a VP in the software consulting world, about this. Me: “Google was founded because people had the great idea to search on words to find information. FB started because a college dude got upset his girlfriend broke up with him, created a nasty program, saw how it caught on like wildfire and created a more palatable version. LinkedIn was created for business people to network. Twitter originally launched with the concept of being more like what Foursquare actually is. Twitter reinvented itself without anyone making that decision; the users did. All have evolved. But each had its own creators, its own intention and purpose, its own birth date. I don’t understand why people think they should all be each other. Why should Google do social? Why isn’t what they do enough? Why do people think Google should be Facebook or Facebook should be Google?” My sister: “It all comes down to two things: ego and money. Saw it all the time. It’s either about money or ego.”
The company that raised me, Xerox, actually could have been multiple current global billion dollar companies. They not only invented xerography, but the ethernet, laser printer, mouse and I was working on something called a Star 6085 workstation in 1990 that had the equivalent of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, along with email and was IMing my future husband in 1993. Had they made better marketing decisions, and not done solely B2B at $10K a pop for a workstation or laser printer, they actually could have been Xerox, Microsoft and HP. Poor management vision and marketing decisions kept them as “just a copier company.” Of course they’ve evolved to total digital equipment, but they actually did invent things that launched other billion dollar companies: http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa111598.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethernet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xerox_Daybreak http://history-computer.com/ModernComputer/Basis/laser_printer.html
In the current cases, it was separate individuals’ passion, drive, and vision whose creations have become the platforms we now use. (Wherever you land on ‘The Social Network,’ we can all agree it wasn’t any of Facebook’s current peers’ idea.) So why do we spend so much time and energy pitting them against each other? Is it the Us vs. Them mentality I wrote about in my ‘Where We’re At: Is it U.S.?’ blog post? Is it ‘Gladiator’ for business? Do people really think there’s an endpoint to this journey and ‘Winner takes all?’ Do you really want them to join into one big conglomerated business? Regardless of antitrust laws? Wouldn’t that be just a little too Big Brother / Nineteen Eighty-Four? Aren’t there better things we could be doing with this energy? Like figuring out how to create jobs, become a major world exporter again, and start believing that there’s enough to go around and room for everyone? Or do you think it’s what my sister suggested, just another case of I’ve got more and mine’s bigger?
While this may sound a bit conspiracy theory, what’s up with Microsoft (creator of Bing; competitor of Google, and Skype owner), getting into bed with Facebook, whose founder hosted a Town Hall for none other than the POTUS, who have dined together as well, and now Google is under investigation for antitrust? Isn’t this all rather reminiscent of Microsoft circa 1998? (Ironically the same year Google was born.)
So why all the drama folks? Why all the focus on who will win or lose? Is this the equivalent of daytime soap operas or is it really just human nature?
We can look at four companies and get a history lesson in technology and company longevity at the same time: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_IBM http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xerox There was once the same kind of talk about them before it switched to Apple and Microsoft. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft Note under the early years the connection between Apple and Xerox and Microsoft and IBM. Life went on; each adjusted, they all still exist. So maybe Apple and Microsoft partnering with these new platforms is just tech history repeating itself.
In case I’m being quite dull and there really will be just one winner, here’s my entry for its new name: Ms. FaceTwit Apple GoogLin. Has quite a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Much better than Ima Every Company.
What do you think?