Some TRIZ thoughts on Google IPO.

This week Google went public. It was the first large scale high-tech IPO since the burst of the .com bubble. The exuberance is omnipresent. And the media is awash with articles explaining this success story. That is why it would not hurt to add one more, with a TRIZ flavor.

Firstly, Google did not invent the web search engines. Long before its inception many people liked to search with the help of other engines, such as HotBot, for example. Only when it was bought by Lycos and spoiled by it, I, for one, switched to Google. If not because of that circumstance, I would continue to search the web with the help of HotBot to date.

"So why did Google manage to sideline such a good engine as HotBot ?" - I asked a young computer science guru. The answer was as follows. Google search engine is based on Linux operating system, whereas HotBot is based on Sun's Solaris. HotBot had to buy Solaris from Sun. To accommodate more users, it had to have more servers running Solaris. And for every server it had to pay to Sun. Whereas nobody owns Linux and Google could expand the number of its servers without paying anybody. It could accommodate as many users as it pleased without affecting the speed of search by simply expanding the number of servers practically for free. As a result, Google managed to set up tens of thousands servers. Whereas for HotBot to set up this huge amount of servers running Solaris, it had to pay Sun many many billions $$. It could not keep pace neither with earning nor raising this big money and Google eventually captured the market.

At this point I gave a credit to Google for its ingenious use of free resources as dictated by TRIZ principles. However, the saying "there are no free lunches" immediately popped up in my memory.

Indeed, in what sense and spirit is Linux "free" ? Linux is the product of a movement aimed at breaking Microsoft monopoly. Thousands and thousands enthusiasts around the globe contribute their time for free to collectively advance Linux in order to deprive Microsoft its (unfair, as they believe) earnings. In order, what, to bring earnings to Google ? Is it not a moral loophole through which Google has managed to squeeze ? Should the movement now counter Google by creating and advancing a search engine which, unlike Google, accepts free advertisements in order to deprive Google its earnings ? And will not this result in emerging another company, which will cynically exploit the new free service in some its product to outsmart competitors ?

You do not need to be a robber baron or a ruthless exploiter of your workers nowadays in order to make big money. Just resort to the TRIZ principle of the use of free resources. Free because the social evolution brought about too many people out there that pursue the other agenda.

Would not it be prudent, therefore, to introduce a legislature prohibiting commercial use of "free" resources ? Or, alternatively, should not the assessed contribution of "free" resources to company success be withheld from its earnings for public needs ?