Google vs. Facebook: Clash of Internet Titans Likely to Follow IPO in May

Google and Facebook have been hiking on remarkably parallel paths. The two most popular Web services in the world are about to engage each other on a whole new level, once the business-side playing field is leveled in the next few weeks.

Google raised $1.7 billion (and earned a $23 billion valuation) with its initial public offering in August 2004, when it was 8 years old. Facebook, born in 2004, will make that dollar amount and a lot more in May when it, too, goes public at age 8.

FacebookBoth are hugely profitable because they attract some of the largest numbers of interactive users and advertisers on the Internet on a daily basis. But with Facebook expected to sell $5 billion worth of stock and obtain an Wall Street valuation in the neighborhood of $100 billion, Mark Zuckerberg’s creation suddenly moves to a whole new major league of international corporations—one with virtually unlimited financial power.

Google was created by Stanford University students on the West Coast, and Facebook by Harvard University students on the East Coast; now they are West Coast neighbors with headquarters only jogging distance apart. Curiously, both campuses are situated similarly, backing up to the San Francisco Bay.

Envious of Each Other’s Power Zone

Google, for all intents and purposes, owns Internet search, serving an estimated 80 percent of the world’s search requests. Facebook, for all intents and purposes, owns social networking and claims about 20 percent of all Internet page views, according to industry researcher Hitwise. Both are envious of each other’s positions and have the leadership and resources to wage serious marketing wars in both sectors.

Google wants a bigger portion of social networking and has Google+ leading that offensive. Facebook wants to get better at search but has a long way to go to upgrade its rudimentary apparatus. How does Facebook plan to do this? Why, by hiring more search experts, that’s how. And if they’re from Google, so much the better. That’s what Facebook did a year and a half ago when Zuckerberg lured Lars Rasmussen, creator of Google Maps, to its camp.

Up to now, Facebook has focused on acquiring information from users, slicing and dicing it, and selling it to customers, so search hasn’t been a priority. The perfunctory text-entry search box at the top of each Facebook page enables users to find other Facebookers all right, but it’s good for little else. It also will display random Web search results powered by Microsoft’s Bing search engine—the same one that now powers Yahoo—but it’s really not useful at all, and Facebookers do not seek out the service.

It Remains to Be Seen if the World Is Too Small for Such Internet Monsters as These

In February, ComScore reported that Facebook’s 50 billion daily users punched in 336 million search requests, certainly a large number in itself but barely on the radar against Google, which records billions of searches per day.

Based on sheer numbers of users, search is a huge business—probably the best monetization of the Internet there is. But Google has a full decade jump on creating all those algorithms, building all those specialized applications and storing all those Web pages. It would be quite a trick for Facebook to gain any sort of market share there, although it is advisable not to underestimate Zuckerberg’s business acumen.

On the other hand, in the fourth quarter of 2011, Facebook widened the lead it took earlier in the year against Google and now accounts for just more than of 12 percent of all time online, and this appears to be climbing, ComScore reported. Three out of every 10 Internet sessions include a Facebook visit, and Facebook accounts now represent 10 percent of all page views in the United States.Google

The word “Facebook” itself also was the top organic search phrase in 2010 with nearly 2 billion searches on that term—three times greater than the next-most-searched-for term. Tells you something, doesn’t it?

However, if Google search is a 25-year-old out of college that’s energized to go-go-go, Facebook’s version is a newborn that’s still in wonderment at the world and learning how to read faces in the Internet environment.

Silicon Valley is not a large region, and it remains to be seen whether it—and the world at large—is too small a place for two Internet monsters like these.

Is a Balance of Power Feasible?

Can there be a balance of power, sort of like the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s? Or will each set out to destroy the other in an attempt at complete Internet world domination?

So far, there haven’t been too many curses at each other reported, except probably behind closed doors regarding the inevitable patent lawsuits that most companies have to face at one time or another. It’s hard not to expect that a real clash of the Internet titans will soon be at hand. But a battle to the death? Probably not.

There appears to be plenty of room in the ever-expanding Internet for services like those offered by both companies. The competitive environment has been a good and clean one up to now. What remains to be seen is what new company will surface this year (perhaps Pinterest?) and go public in 2020—eight years from now—to show us all something new.

Chris Preimesberger is eWEEK’s Editor for Features and Analysis. Twitter: @editingwhiz

Dell’s Intent To Acquire SonicWALL

Email I received from Matt Medeiros, President & CEO, SonicWALL, Inc.

Is this Good or Bad?

Dear Eric,
This morning, Dell® announced its intent to acquire SonicWALL®. This is exciting news for SonicWALL as it opens up new opportunities for growth for our company and solutions.

For you, our customer, nothing changes. SonicWALL continues business as usual and you can continue to rely on our products, support and partners as you’ve done in the past.

Dell is committed to invest in the future of SonicWALL’s product lines. As a result, you will continue to see new and leading-edge Network Security and Data Protection solutions from SonicWALL. Our expanded infrastructure will deliver even greater support for our customers. With our employees remaining at the company, the way you do business with SonicWALL will not change.

SonicWALL will become Dell’s center of excellence for security appliance solutions, extending Dell’s security capabilities already in place with the Dell SecureWorks security services, cloud security solutions, data encryption solutions, mobile device management and Dell KACE vulnerability and patch management.

The acquisition is the next step in Dell’s strategy to expand its solutions capabilities for customers and simplify management of their IT infrastructure. This vision is a perfect match for SonicWALL that has delivered easy-to-use, high-performance network security solutions to SMB and enterprise organizations for over 20 years.

We look forward to providing you with the high-quality network security solutions you trust and will continue to keep you informed of the progress of this acquisition. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact your local SonicWALL representative.

Matt Medeiros
President & CEO
SonicWALL, Inc.

8 Nuggets of Wisdom Every Entrepreneur Needs

Advice to help you be more confident, manage more effectively, and sell more than you think you can.

I love listening to smart people. I don’t like listening to smart people when they pretend they developed the wisdom they impart all on their own—like a Stephen Hawking fairy flew down and touched them on the head with a Wand of Wisdom. It doesn’t work that way for most of us. Everything I know I was told by people who are smarter than me. Like the following advice, some of which has stuck with me for years:

“Go ahead and be an ‘individual.’ Just do it on your own time.” For a long time—longer than I care to admit—I let my personality overshadow my roles. That definitely impacted my performance and limited my opportunities. Sure, we’re all individuals, but we all depend on others, just like they depend on us.

Your primary goal is to meet the needs of employees, customers, etc. on their terms. Stay true to your ethics and values, but never “be yourself” just to prove something to yourself.

“Place no value on face value.” It’s hard not to perceive the actions of others through the lens of how their behavior impacts us, especially if that impact is negative.

But there is always more going on. Most employees don’t try to do a bad job. Most customers don’t intend to difficult. Most vendors don’t actively seek to miss delivery dates. There’s always a deeper level; fail to look for what may lie behind an action and you could miss the opportunity to make a bad situation better for everyone.

“He’s just as scared of you.” I wrestled in high school, and during the summers I went to regional and national tournaments. Some wrestlers seemed larger than life simply because they were from different states and wore t-shirts from high-profile schools, camps, and wrestling clubs. Until a referee made an off-hand comment, I never imagined some might see me the same way.

The same is true in a business setting. Hiding underneath the Gucci and the Stanford b-school degree and the VC name-dropping is a person who might be just as nervous and intimidated as you. Symbols of success are just symbols. The playing field is always more level than it appears.

Sometimes it even tilts your way.

“When you fire an employee, you haven’t done your job if you need to say more than, ‘We have to let you go.'” Barring a major incident, firing an employee is the last step in a process. Identify sub-par performance, provide additional training or resources, set targets and timelines for performance improvement, and follow up when progress is lacking.

Termination shouldn’t be a surprise that requires a lengthy explanation. Do your job right and the employee already knows why he is being fired.

Even so…

“Firing an employee should bother you for days.” Even if you did everything right, firing employees feels terrible. You’ve impacted their careers, their lives, and their families. … It should bother you.

If you don’t feel terrible after you fire someone it’s time to rethink whether you should run a business.

“Always sell above your comfort zone.” Selling, especially myself, doesn’t come easy for me. I felt more comfortable waiting for bosses to discover my talents and offer promotions. I feel more comfortable waiting for potential clients to somehow “discover” me.

That’s a problem, because success in any field or profession is built on salesmanship: The willingness and ability to determine needs, overcome objections, and provide solutions.

Be enthusiastic, especially about yourself. Don’t worry: People will respond positively.

“Pick something to believe in and stick with it.” When I raced motorcycles a former World Champion told me he always walked an unfamiliar track before ever riding a lap. That ritual let him discover details about the track and racing lines he might otherwise miss. Good enough for him, good enough for me, so I did the same thing.

Did it help? Placebo or not, I certainly thought it did. So, therefore, it did.

Create a routine to follow every time you face a task that makes you nervous. Gradually the routine itself will give you confidence.

Think of it like wearing your lucky underwear (hey, don’t laugh, I know a guy who has lucky underwear), except in this case your “superstition” actually contributes to your performance.

“Sometimes you could just shut up.” I used to talk even more than I do now. I thought I was insightful and clever and witty. Most of the time I wasn’t. So why did I talk so much? Big hat, no cattle. I still sometimes realize I’m talking because I’m interested in what I have to say and not because the other person is interested.

Truly confident people don’t feel the need to talk at all. Never speak just to please yourself. You end up pleasing no one.

What Employers Are Thinking When They Look At Your Facebook Page

Why interview when you can Facebook stalk? Yesterday, I told you about a study suggesting that employers can judge candidates’ future work performance by spending five to ten minutes lurking on their Facebook pages.
Facebook Info
Some readers were outraged by this. “I truly wish employers would stop using Facebook as a professional tool,” commented one. “That was never its intention! … Does it give employers a potential view into people’s somewhat personal lives? Yes! But truly what does that prove?”

Like it or not, Facebook and other sites like it are becoming the digital proxies for our real world selves. Our profiles on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, et. al. reflect our likes, dislikes, personalities, and best photo angles, and are likely more useful to employers in seeing what we might be like to work with than a short interview. If you don’t want employers (and love interests) to come snooping on your page to get a sense of who you are, set your privacy settings high; limit your content to “friends only.” If you are willing to let it hang out, here’s a sense of what employers will be asking themselves as they review your content. This is the sheet that the reviewers in the study used to rate the Facebooking college students on the “Five Big Qualities” that supposedly convey how good an employee will be. (High ratings are good for everything but “Neuroticism.”) After looking at publicly-available photos, status updates, conversations with friends, and Wall postings, the raters scored each candidate accordingly:

Facebook ChartPotential love interests are probably asking the same questions, though they likely have a slightly different context for “openness to experience” and care more about how good you look in your photos.

While some readers were put off by the idea of being stalked by potential employers, others recognized the utility of tapping into all the information out there about a given candidate.

“If I’m an employer, and it’s legal, and I’m about to make a major investment in someone that I’ll have to work all day with, I’ll use it,” said “gugie.” Puneet Thiara agreed with her: “The costs associated with hiring and training a new employee far outweigh the risk of not doing ALL of your research. You could say it’s similar to me researching a company I am applying for and checking out members of its groups on Facebook to see what kind of people work for the company.”

But other readers want employers to stick to the social networks intended for professional use. “I — and I know many others are with me here — use ‘social networks’ (other than LinkedIn, that is) for just that. Networking SOCIALLY. In my opinion you have no more business examining my Facebook entries than you would crashing a private cocktail party,” wrote a person who spelled “anonymous” in a very eccentric way. “[S]ocial networks should not be used IN LIEU of face-to-face meetings.”

Brettb was of this opinion as well:

[J]udging the character of an individual with such heavy weight on their personal life, which nine times out of ten will never interfere with their professional life, is wrong. The practice of physically sitting down and going through the motions of an interview with a candidate and asking probing intellectual questions while vigorously researching reference data is a much better way to select a qualified candidate. So what if Johnny had a few too many beers one night in Cancun when he was in college and someone took a photo, or if Susie openly supports her local death metal band. Does that make them bad people? No – get to know the candidate if you want to make a judgment of character. See how they handle themselves in a professional atmosphere and if they are personable or rather, someone you feel you can work with.


In my opinion, those who don’t want employers looking them up on Facebook pages are fighting a losing battle.

Christian Miller won the comments section with this remark:

Any candidate worth considering should be smart enough to set their privacy settings in order to hide all content from any potential employer. Anything a competent HR staff can find via google search is fair game.

Good luck, job seekers. And along with polishing your resume, dry-cleaning your interview suit, and researching the companies you’re interviewing with, do pay a visit to your Facebook privacy settings page.