The concept of a ‘managerial class’ is floating around the internet, suggesting that the future aristocracy will be comprised of the management layer of society: bankers, hedge fund managers, CEOs, etc. Indirectly, the ilk of Google, Bing, etc. are thrown in the ring for reasons not immediately apparent. Lets analyze.
Consider the tongue-in-cheek first grade understanding of entrepreneurship:
Step 1: Have idea.
Step 2: ???
Step 3: Profit.
And right off the bat, the most successful modern companies break the mold. Its confusing to look at Google or Facebook or Amazon as being highly valued companies, since they don’t profit. What gives? Here are four possibilities:
1. Company not looking for profit
Assuming a company has a completely philanthropic mission is a valid assumption, and Google seems to reflect this partly by creating applications and services for free use for the betterment of society (think Google Maps, Labs, etc.) Also, it is valid to assume the nerds and geeks working for Google do so out of a sense of open-source like sentiment, for the betterment of technology as a whole. However, not looking for a profit makes it hard to estimate exactly how many services you can provide. Hypothetically, for ten dollars I can program you a calculator app. For ten thousand dollars I can program you an image browser. For ten million dollars I can program you a Google Maps. For ten billion dollars I can program you a ……you get my point. The mission becomes wide open. Profit tells you exactly where the market values you. So I will reject #1 as representative of Google.
2. Company concealing how it profits
Like any swindler or Ponzi scheme, a company can always conceal how it profits behind curtains of confusion and complexity. I doubt this is Google’s modus operandi because they publish all of their code to evaluate, their public earnings, etc. So #2 is rejected.
3. Profitting off of shit, embarassing
Cleaning shit out of toilets isn’t fun. But import enough low wage, low status losers, put a mop in their hands, and soon you have an empire built on shit. Try discussing this around the cocktail table and you sound like a right bastard. This is only an analogy, but we are getting warmer to Google’s strategy. Advertisement is a typically shitty way to earn revenue, and Google does it. Throwing up ads that are so distracting that your patrons have epileptic seizures, selling out your morals and giving any scumbag a platform to hawk his wares, all to make a buck. Google dips its toes in this under the guise of AdSense, or giving retailers nice statistic analysis by placing ads all over the pages. Its a philanthropic wrapper with a shit delivery. Consider that Facebook needs to read your messages and search terms to give you ‘personalized’ ads; any normal person starts to realize this is aspergy and creepy. Search for a magnum tampon and soon you will be shown ads for Vagi-clean. It happens, so this is a valid assumption for Google’s profit model. However, they explicitly reject the idea of being labelled as a ‘search engine based on advertiser revenue.’ So what gives?
4. Profit isn’t important
By process of elimination, this is the most interesting and most valid assumption. Rejecting profit as the objective of work and business is a novel idea. How is it even possible to defy the traditional business model? What is happening to the market?
By deduction, I have reduced Google’s motive to show that they are not interested in profit, so now I will give my theory. It is the opinion of others that the new valuation in this economy is being the manager. To rephrase this for Google: the company is more concerned with their valuation than actually producing value.
Google is now the second most valued company, and ironically is competing with an oil company and an iPhone company. Exxon has oil, Apple has iPhones, Google has….data? Apple is the number one most valued US company, and has the iPhone, iMac, iPod, iTunes, iPad, App Store, etc. These are all tangible products. Google has….the Google phone? Please.
If the Baby Boomer generation stole the wealth of generations for their coffers, it makes sense that the biggest companies don’t actually hold the most wealth. It makes sense that the biggest companies are chasing the respect and valuation of those who do have generations of wealth. And for Google, that means looking really cool so they get paid for it.
The managerial class has sidled up to the Boomers to ‘manage’ their money, ultimately boiling down to ‘lots of fun for us to do this “hard” job.’