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The search for Google’s secrets

A canteen with a choice of 14 cuisines, a health club with more equipment than the biggest gyms... truly Google is an aspirational employer, writes Ganesh Natarajan.

india Updated: May 29, 2007 03:26 IST

A NASSCOM delegation I was leading to a briefing session at the world’s most talked-about company briefly lost its way enroute. it led to the inevitable wisecrack once we reached – while the world searches on Google, there we were searching for Google!

But the end of the journey presented a true reward. We entered the vibrant campus just as a shareholders’ briefing session was on - which had given the whole place the look of a college campus on graduation day rather than the birthplace of one of Silicon Valley’s proudest entrepreneurial start-ups!

What makes Google such a great company – the darling of the stock market, the top pick of all the business schools - ahead of long-term favourites like McKinsey, and even the hedge funds? A place where even the hardened “seen it all” types are delighted to be invited for a free lunch? The free lunch is certainly a draw – at a canteen which offers a choice of 14 cuisines! There is also a health club with more treadmills and cardio equipment than you would see in the biggest gyms. These too are among the keys to building an exciting new culture around the “Googler” community and making Google itself an aspirational employer.

But it does not stop at that - as the briefing team amply demonstrated with its breadth of social and economic knowledge coupled with the able-to-deploy technology to satisfy every stated and even some latent needs of the planet’s web community.

As co-founder Larry Page said last week, the goal of the company is to produce a search engine that understands what you want before you key it in. No wonder then that Google’s share of the search market grew to a staggering 65 per cent in the US in the month of April and no wonder, too, that CEO Eric Schmidt commenting on the buzz around the potential Microsoft-Yahoo merger, said, “It would change the competitive dynamic but it would not cause us to do anything different.”

It is this competitive dynamic that we in the Indian technology sector need to watch out for as US retail bellwether Wal-mart records a rare drop in April sales – the weakest performance since it began publishing monthly sales in 1980. And with April’s disappointing sales reflected across all segments of the US retail industry, the old fears about a slowdown have resurfaced with the dollar continuing to slide and market sentiment weakening.

The sector faces this demand challenge on the one hand and supply cost escalation on the other and will need a renewed focus on new sales to sustain the growth momentum it has built through the last many years!

The need to embrace innovation - in new market searches, new business models a la Google and new ways of delivering solutions, is visible to all of us. The long-term success stories from India will be those who seek and capture opportunity share in a new world of challenges and constraints – the excitement continues!

The writer is Deputy chairman & MD of Zensar Technologies and vice-chairman of NASSCOM