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Why some tech companies have expiration dates
By Dave Winer on Saturday, April 09, 2011 at 1:38 PM.

There was something troubling about Larry Page's edict to his employees that tied their year-end bonuses to Google's success in social networking. I couldn't put my finger on it, but Mike Elgan at ComputerWorld helped me see it.  #

Page's edict tells employees: "Stop working on Google's mission and start working on Facebook's."  #

As we used to say here on Scripting News -- Bing!  #

When have we seen this before? #

Heh. #

When haven't we? :-) #

This is the cycle of the tech industry. A company starts off scrappy, and against all odds, not only does it vanquish every startup of its generation, but it also takes the lead from the former incumbent. Then it grows big, hires lots of employees, many of them from the companies they defeated, and then are surprised when they become the companies they defeated.  #

A picture named popcorn.gifMeanwhile a new crop sprouts, one of them rises to the top, and takes aim at the leader... #

The founder, whose brilliance and tenacity and drive was what made the company surge past everyone else thinks he can do it again, only this time instead of leading a small team of banditos, he's running a fleet with aircraft carriers, battleships, supply lines. And btw, the company they took the lead from is still kicking around, and capable of making trouble.  #

We know how this story ends. The upstart takes the lead away from the incumbent.  #

Microsoft didn't take the graceful exit, which was to become a services company and banker, and fade into the background. But destiny forced them there anyway. (They thought their enemy was Netscape, but it turned out to be Google.) It was more of a struggle than it had to be. Same with IBM, before them. And now Google seems to be going that way.  #

There is of course the Steve Jobs story. But to go down that path, Google would have to return to its roots -- search -- and forget about dreams of being Facebook.  #


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