Paul Graham has a blog. Am I the last one to notice this? And it's built on a system, infogami, built by noneother than Aaron Swartz. I remember when Aaron was building some kind of blogging tool long ago, I think it was called Blogspace. Unfortunately, the infogami blog hasn't been posted to since May.
But Paul is still going strong?most recently, posting about the Kiko (a Y-combinator company) affair, which I found via dhh's rally cry, summarized thusly:
Don't believe it. You're not governed by fate. You can react. Kiko's demise is sad for the parties involved, but it does not spell the end of innovation in calendars or any other area Google might enter now or later.
I tend to agree with dhh. Seems Business Week might as well, not that that counts for much. But there are some good points in that article. Google doesn't dominate in most things they do?nor does Yahoo! or most other big companies. They are usually not to be feared as much as many startups (and investors) give them credit for.
At the same time, I don't know if I'd have argued differently for Kiko. If they didn't have a great twist, it's sometimes better to start over than to slog away at the margin. There will definitely be other calendars than Google's, but the Kiko folks might not see the need to build one anymore.
What would be unfortunate is if they didn't see Google Calendar coming. It's not so much a "stray bullet" as a bullet one should have just been hoping to outrun. Google's whole formula is:
- Define very large well-known market
- Out-engineer/user-experience everyone in it
If you're in a well-known, been-around-for-a-long-time online space, count on Google being there, if they aren't already. (Check: search, advertising, email, IM, maps, finance, news, groups...calendar...) This certainly doesn't mean they'll dominate it. They don't in many of those areasor most things they do. But it's a no-brainer that they'd enter them.
If you want to worry less about Google, do something more forward-thinkingi.e., something that's not yet big, but will be. They'll still get into it, but it's very hard for a large company to justify investment in something speculative when they have really big problems to work on. (See: Innovator's Dilemma.)
Take a cutting-edge area like blogging, for example. Personally, I think it's going to be big someday. Fortunately, blogging companies probably have a while before Google takes it seriously. ;)