So, in the past several days we learned that Google had made a feint at Digg, then passed. Looked at one way it’s a bit surprising, given Digg’s raw power and extreme brand recognition among the Web’s tastemakers. On the other hand, it may have been a good decision. After all, Google can buy a company, but it can’t buy an attitude.
Sure, any big, lumbering company would like to get its cool on by acquiring a relatively edge Web player like Digg. But the truth is, it’s seldom a good idea–because big companies digest little ones. Sure, the big company can acquire assets–and even Digg’s prodigious traffic and influence–but I doubt it would preserve the culture that makes Digg compelling. Hey, look at the social bookmarking sites that have sprung up since…they’re just not the same.
By the way, in case anyone still has an image of Google as scrappy and innovative, let’s give that a rest. Sure, I remember when Google was the Next Big Thing and full of vibrant energy. But those days are gone, baby. Google may still pay for people’s lunches, but it’s as corporate as they get.
Hey, I’d argue that in some ways, Google is the biggest potential challenger to monolithic Microsoft (more explanation in a future column). What else explains Microsoft’s clumsy pursuit of search dominance by attempting to snag Yahoo? — Anne
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