I have a theory that companies peak soon after they make big, bold, public and very round revenue forecasts of fifty billion or more.  Basically, they’re so busy trying to grow to the sky they miss important changes in the market and/or hubris gets the better of them.  In some cases, the wheels come off the bus in spectacular fashion (see IBM, Compaq, Dell to a lesser extent) shortly after the big revenue goal gets hoisted (revenue goals being the BHAG substitute for the strategically bankrupt).

It is time to add Google to the official Platformonomics Hubris Watch (PHuW!™) based on a reported passage in the new Ken Auletta book about the company.  It is qualified slightly (“could”) and not a direct quote, but the official ruling is it is sufficient to get Google on the leaderboard:

In 2007, Eric Schmidt told me that one day Google could become a hundred-billion-dollar media company—more than twice the size of Time Warner, the Walt Disney Company, or News Corporation.

Here is the Official PHuW!™ Leaderboard:



Target Date

Date Added

When Added

Current Revenue

Oracle $50 billion 5 years 6/2007 ~$18 billion ~$23 billion
Google $100 billion None 10/2009 ~$25 billion ~$25 billion


  • Google gets credit for having the biggest delta between current revenue and the aspiration.  They were smart enough not to put a date on it.  Or maybe they’re betting on hyperinflation.
  • Arguably, this should be backdated to 2007 to the time of Schmidt’s comment (but we wouldn’t want to get into trouble for backdating…).  It is interesting that a lot of Google’s big dreams have come back to earth since Schmidt made the comment.  Google is still zero for all the megalomaniacal initiatives they have thrown at the wall (radio, TV, enterprise, alternative energy, personal DNA sequencing, Second Life clones, etc.).
  • My general view remains that Google is going through the same arc that Microsoft went through except on a much more compressed timeframe.  They have less time to build additional businesses and competitors including sovereign nations have rallied to keep them from expanding their footprint as a prelude to going after their core franchise.  One of Microsoft’s big challenges was to pose a modest threat to the media, who buy ink by the barrel.  Google has this issue in spades as they pose an existential threat, and it is already coloring perceptions of the company.
  • Oracle update: they have vacuumed up pretty much everything not nailed down in enterprise software, but they’re still not even halfway to the goal.  Jacking maintenance fees will only take you so far (the customer backlash is finally building) and the Sun acquisition buys them less revenue with every passing day.  The Sun bid sure looks like the acquisition strategy in pursuit of the big number has taken on a life of its own.  There is an argument they’re getting a great price, and I still think they’ll flip the hardware business as soon as they can.  But there is still a lot that can go wrong and the deal doesn’t fit the acquisition template they have been using (it is hard to jack maintenance fees for Sun’s give-it-away-for-free-and-make-it-up-on-volume software “business”).

Have I missed anyone else who should be on the leaderboard?

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