Thursday, November 24, 2005

Google/U. of Waterloo Redux

Earlier this week, I posted about a private donation of $25 million of Google stock to the University of Waterloo.

Fellow IP blogger and Iotum CEO Alec Saunders has had a running dialog with me on this posting - first on-blog, then off-line. Alec raises many valid points about Microsoft's long history of generosity with Waterloo, and of course their much larger philanthropic efforts in several areas.

My intent was not to make MS look spendthrift - not at all. I was really just trying to draw attention to how easily and quickly Google has managed to get itself permanently attached to Waterloo, long a major feeder of top talent to MS. I think it says a lot about the momentum Google is bringing to so many facets of our digital world, and in such little time. Waterloo didn't have to accept this offering, so to me, it's a tacit message of endorsement for Google and the school's desire to associate its name with them so prominently.

I actually had no intention to revisit this topic on my blog - until I read today's Globe & Mail. They run WSJ pieces, and today's was about Google's recent hiring trends. Unfortunately, I don't have a link to the article, but if you're interested in what I'm talking about, it's a great read. The title is "Google's growth helps ignite hiring frenzy", written by Pui-Wing Tam and Kevin Delaney.

Basically, the story focuses on the lengths Google is going in the pursuit of the top talent - wherever it exists. Kind of a perverse application of their own search engine, come to think of it. For example, one of their recruiters was assigned the task of "tracking down all women from the top 50 universities world-wide who had graduated after 1980 with PhDs or Masters degrees in physics, math or computer science". Wow.

The story goes on to talk about how this impacts the Microsofts and Yahoos of the world, and the pressures they face to keep up - not just to recruit new talent, but to retain their own top people from going - to Google. Dog-eat-dog at its most primal - very Pac Man, huh?

And of course, the parallels with the 1999 tech bubble are scary, especially with the MLB-type salaries and stock options been waved about. But that's another topic....

If you ask me, this article is highly relevant (another clever pun, right Alec?) to my earlier posting on Waterloo, and that's why I'm writing about it now. Google is clearly on a mission, and I stand by my earlier conclusion - I think Google is out-doing MS in the hunt for global dominance!

There's really a lot at stake here, and my blogging is only scratching the surface. Alec - let's do a podcast about this - I think we need to examine the ethics of recruiting and philanthropy in the digital age. You up for it?

1 comment:

ipcom said...

Posted by: Jim Courtney

I think you are reading too much into this re Google's relationship with U. Waterloo. Check the U. Waterloo website. Turns out the Dr. Cheriton is now an internationally recognized Computer Science professor at Stanford University (with an office in the William H. Gates Computer Science building). I'm sure his networking brought about his decision to invest in Google; it is quite possible he has met up with Jim Clark who recently donated $90 million to Stanford for Biodmedical Engineering Building. But Jim Clark wass continuting the tradition of Hewlett, Packard, Moore and others, including Gates, with buildings there.

Secondly it is NOT Google that made the donation; rather they created the opportunity for Dr. Cheriton to make the donation to Waterloo of his own volition. Having had lots of contact with Stanford over the past several years through both my own work and my son's recent role as a student there (he is also a Waterloo grad), I think the real contribution here is that Dr. Cheriton wants to bring a Stanford standard of research and academic excellence to Waterloo and has provided some seed money to do so. You have to have witnessed the Stanford experience to understand the very high level of student and research achievement there. (and, with 16 Nobel prizes, it's not all commercial by a long shot...)

As for Microsoft's contribution to Waterloo, according to the University's website, they made a $2.3 million contribution in 2002. I am sure Alec can fill us in on whatever other synergies exist between Microsoft and U. Waterloo.

And, having witnessed Waterloo's growth from a small college in the early 60's to what it is today, they can and will servce Canada proud to set new levels of achievement and performance.