Google and Spacex figuring out how to efficiently execute and leverage big bet technology projects

During Google’s Q1 2013 earnings call, CEO Larry Page gave us a rundown on exactly what the company has been up to in this quarter, as well as some insight into how he’s currently running the company.

Page discussed Google’s current “big bets,” which are Chrome, YouTube and Android as the mature products that are important to continue innovating on. However, Page made it clear that as CEO of the company, it’s his job to focus on the future.

He said: “Companies tend to get comfortable doing what they’ve always done, with only a few minor tweaks. It’s only natural to work on the things you know. Minor changes make things obsolete.” It was very interesting to hear Page gloss over its search, advertising and business offerings. He didn’t even mention Google+. He wanted to get right to the point, which was to make it clear that Google is still a forward-thinking company, and the company is executing in that way.

Things that aren’t incremental changes, and future big bets are Google Fiber, which Page says came about after co-founder Sergey Brin wanted to show how high-speed Internet access could help change people’s lives.

Going back to what Google has been pushing, which is speed, means that it’s completely overhauling all of its legacy services to catch up with these present and future big bets. If search doesn’t bring you queries quickly, what good is really super-fast fiber Internet access? The other side of the coin is, why add more functionality and better quality to YouTube videos if nobody has really fast enough Internet access to see them?

It seems like Google has set itself up to work on things that push each unit to better its product, chasing both the chicken and the egg. Take Glass, for example. Accessing search results isn’t the best, or fastest, use-case on the device, but seeing Google Now cards with information that is relevant to what you search for on the desktop is.

Nextbigfuture Football Analogy for Company Innovation

If a company can only execute on incremental improvement that is like a football team that only has a short yardage running game.
Being able to attempt big bet technology projects is irrelevant if it does not translate into a significant and strategic part of the company at some point. The big bet technology projects are like high yardage passing plays.

The analogy has limitations. Companies can have the resources to have multiple offensive projects at the same time.
The efficiency of operations and projects enables a company to take more big bet risks. Spacex is being highly efficient with the development of the potentially game changing reusable rocket. The effort is only costing a few tens of millions of dollars.

Google and Spacex are also taking a broadly useful core competences and finding ways to leverage them with big bet projects.

Spacex has core competency with efficient rocket technology development and has lowest cost rocket technology.

Google has core competence with its advertising system, data center scaling and efficiency and low cost information technology innovation.

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