October 26, 2006

Google's Plans leaked..

A company paper* Google published internally earlier this year and which I got hold of outlined some of Google’s big goals and directions for 2006. The list included several items, for example:

  • Google wants to have an improved infrastructure to make their engineers more productive. This includes allowing employees to have a universal search tool “containing all public Google information searched on all Google searches.” Google also wants to build 10MW of green power to be on track to be carbon neutral. (They also want to reduce “Borg disk waste” by 50%... hmmm, Borg?)
  • Google wants to be the best in search – no surprise here. To reach that goal, Google wants to have the world’s top AI research laboratory. They are also focusing on getting rid of spam in the top 20 user languages, and increasing the accuracy of information they collect (through measures such as annotation). Another part of improving search is to always launch crucial user interface updates “that people love.”
  • Google wants to push their ad system. E.g. in 2006, one of their aims was to sell $1B of new inventory. Google feels that if they make the world’s inventory available “marketers will come.”
  • Google also wants to push their communities and content. According to the papers Google published, Google Video has 50% of the world’s “online video attention” (a number that’s hard to believe, and especially interesting because Google still ended up buying YouTube). Google also emphasized that a fifth of all communication bandwidth – on Google-owned properties, I suppose – is read through Gmail.
  • Google tries to make sure their tools are running everywhere. In around mid-2006, according to their internal numbers 60 Million Google Packs had been installed, but they still want to increase the deployment... especially for “novice users.”
  • Google is always focusing on innovation. One of their top goals in 2006 thus was to “increase the scale of innovation,” even as the internal headcount grows (a growth which dozens of engineering scouts located around the world ensure).

One more specific objective Google outlined as company goal earlier this year in another paper** available to me was to internally test a Google News prototype during the fourth quarter. This “radically improved” prototype should allow “other news sources, and organizations and individuals mentioned in news stories to debate specific points.” I wonder what that means... anyone? I’m as puzzled about this as I am about the “Onebox @ 100% via SETI” mentioned elsewhere in the document (though unless Google is looking for extra-terrestrials, SETI is probably the code name for some internal infrastructure)... or the abbreviations “FIGSCJKR spam,” and “EFIGSCJKR” (the latter being something where Google wants to beat Yahoo).

In the meantime, Marissa Mayer was responsible to ensure that any site with over 10 million page views (per day? month?) renders in a second or less 95% of the time. Other teams saw their goals outlined by terminology such as “70% user happiness” (Gmail 2.0), “host XXM photos, up from XM” (Picasa Web), “an additional XXk machines for production indexing” (index freshness), “reduce bad landing page impressions by 20%” (ads), or “Playbacks: XXM/day” (Google Video). If Google’s “release frenzy” often appears chaotic from the outside, their internal goals do look very precise and organized... and almost every goal has a number attached to it, even when it’s a seemingly fuzzy area like user happiness.

Another interesting feature foreshadowed in the Google papers was to grab relevant locations & dates from web pages allowing users to “view results on a timeline of map.” Keep in mind the papers are older by now so this might be what has already been released as Google News Archive search last month, or the Google Trends site.

While the documents do not mention the goal of trying to decrease Google self-censorship in China, there was mention of a Chinese “Knowledge Search Beta.”

All in all, Google is trying to improve existing products and launch new ones – but not too many in order to not become disorganized, as they publicly stated, too (the document contains the simple directive “Count total number of Google products and reduce by 20%”). They also always focus on leading in search through a variety of features like index freshness & quality, as well as onebox results like Google Base or Google Co-op... and possibly, some day, paid results as well, according to one of their objectives (my emphasis – and again note the last bit may refer to Google’s already released News Archive search)..

*The document is titled “Big Goals and Directions - 2006”.

**The second document is titled “Objectives and Key Results - Q3 2006 Company OKRs”.