Why? Because They Can!

I just don’t get people who live on the East Coast. On the one hand you’ve got Newsweek’s Dan Lyons saying Silicon Valley isn’t tackling the hard problems any more (our response is here).

And then when we find out that Google is actually working on some seriously science fiction type stuff (self driving cars), New York financial analyst and blogger Henry Blodget asks “Why is Google developing this technology?”

I get what Lyons and Blodget are saying. Lyons thinks Zynga, Twitter and Facebook are a waste of engineering resources. Those people could be working on “more important stuff.” And Blodget isn’t anti-self driving cars, he just wants Google to focus on its core business.

I say this – who cares!

Everyone has a fix for Silicon Valley, but what tends to work best is when people just leave Silicon Valley alone. The crazy (perhaps diseased) manic pipe dreams of entrepreneurs, guided by basic market forces, has gotten us this far. And it will work just as well from now on, too.

I love the fact that Google is working on cars that drive themselves. I’m not a shareholder, but if I was I’d still love it. If Larry Page decides this is what he’s passionate about right now, Google definitely doesn’t want him starting some new company to pursue it.

Keep it at Google. If it doesn’t work, he’s scratched his itch. If it does, they can spin it off later. In the meantime, Google benefits because people know they’re working on new technology that can change the world, not just how to make more money from keyword ads. There are engineers that may take jobs at Google just knowing that they’re doing stuff like this that otherwise take jobs at one of those companies that Lyons is mocking just to get pre-IPO stock.

We want our entrepreneurs to try crazy new things. In a hundred years who knows, Google may be thought of as a car company, not a search company. Crazier things have happened. It wasn’t all that long ago, for example, that Nokia was known as a manufacturer of rubber galoshes. If Blodget had his way, they’d still be at it.