Mark Zuckerberg Believes Google Has No Incentive to Innovate
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg takes some flak for being nervous when he speaks, but he was quite clear about what he thinks of Google Oct. 13 when he helped Microsoft's Bing team introduce social search integration between Bing and Facebook.
Zuckerberg's words, viewed in context, shouldn't be taken lightly.
While he didn't directly name Google, his comments on why he chose Bing as the first search engine he opened Facebook data to in such a detailed fashion are crucial to understanding how he views the King Kong of search.
He said Facebook likes to work with "scrappy underdogs" that are "incentivized to go deep and do something innovative that other companies aren't doing."
Naturally (or what seems natural now that social gaming is The Next Big Thing), Facebook started out with game partnerships such as Zynga, Playdom and Playfish. Those companies blew up and sold out, so they're not so scrappy anymore.
Still, Zuckerberg applied this logic to Bing. Noting that search is one of the most important things on the Web, he said Facebook looked for the scrappy upstart of a search engine that would cotton to Facebook's idea of what social search should be.
Microsoft, which had partnered with Facebook since 2006, fit the bill. If this is a Zuckerberg ramble, it's the most cogent one Zuck has ever uttered:
The thing that makes Microsoft a great partner for us is that they really are the underdog here. Because of that, they're in a structural position where they're incentivized to just go all out and innovate, right? And when you're an incumbent in an area, no matter how smart you are, there's just always this tension between trying to innovate and push new things and trying to preserve what you have.
And we've never felt that with Microsoft, right, because in all of the things that we've worked with Microsoft on, they have all of these smart people but they're just trying to rapidly gain share by doing awesome stuff that no one else has talked about doing before, so that's actually made Microsoft a really good ally for us and a really good partner in a lot of these complex areas that we have no interest in building things out around but that are really complex like search.
I just couldn't think of anyone better to be working with to build the next generation of search and I have no doubt that a great social integration in search will do for search what social integrations have done for games and photos and groups and events and all these other things before it.
Ouch! Clearly, Zuckerberg views Google as the incumbent who has had its best day in the sun with the last decade of search, and not one that he would see as an ideal partner for Facebook.
You know it's the kiss of death when a leading Silicon Valley entrepreneur says your company is not inspired to innovate, and that he would rather work with a company with market share that isn't even in the teens.
Of course, this isn't totally true. Google Instant is pretty darn innovative as a search technology, but what you must realize is that Zuck views everything through the lens of social. If it isn't social, he's not interested.
Bing, he believes, will do anything to catch Google, or at least slow its growth. Zuck wants to help the team do that by making Facebook's social content available on Bing.
Let's also assume that Zuck is well aware of what Google is working on with Google Me and that he views it as a threat -- or as a genuinely weak offering that misses the point.
Regardless, in the coming weeks it's quite possible the integration could nudge some of Facebook's more than 500 million users to at least try Bing.
People already spend the bulk of their time in Facebook, so why not add top-tier search capabilities to the mix? This could boost Bing's user base in a big way.
Yes, Zuck really said those things, but I think most media was caught up reporting the actual news yesterday and missed the polite digs he launched at Google.
You can see Zuck's comments here! Start at the 16 minute mark: