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Google and the Fabulous Googlettes

This Craigslist job posting (via Anil) describes a new initiative within Google called Googlettes:

What is a Googlette? It’s a new business inside of Google that is just getting started โ€“ the start-up within the start-up. We’re looking for an experienced, entrepreneurial manager capable of offering direction to a team of PMs working on a wide array of Googlettes. You will define Google’s innovation engine and grow the leaders of our next generation of businesses.

From the description, it looks like Google is building a little Skunkworks to generate business ideas and leaders internally instead of relying so heavily on outside hires and ideas. Which is a fine idea.

But when I first read the description, I thought they might be doing something else that is potentially more interesting. Instead of generating ideas and people for internal use, what if they’re incubating start-ups to spin off into companies of their own? Fast forward five years and instead of being a big huge company, Google is a big huge company at the center of a network of 10-20 large to medium-sized companies with similar goals, values, and business practices. Most of these spin-offs would be engaged in businesses similiar (and probably complementary) to each other and the Google Mother Ship, some of them maybe even directly competing with each other.

With the right balance of mutual effort and competition, the Google collective would be a formidable adversary for its competition โ€” a team of companies against single companies โ€” and would at the same time create an open business environment (say, the opposite of the current business environment in film, music, television, and radio) where competition creates more opportunities, value for customers, jobs, business, and innovation for everyone in that environment.

Again, I don’t think that’s Google’s plan, but maybe it should be.