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A View from Wade Roush

Google Bombs Itself?

Try this now: Go to Google, enter “out of touch management,” and click “I’m Feeling Lucky.” You might be surprised to see whose executive roster shows up. According to two paragraphs buried in a New York Times story today about…

  • June 22, 2004

Try this now: Go to Google, enter “out of touch management,” and click “I’m Feeling Lucky.” You might be surprised to see whose executive roster shows up. According to two paragraphs buried in a New York Times story today about Google’s IPO, employees inside Google have Google-bombed their own bosses – a possible sign of friction inside the company as it prepares for the highly anticipated public offering.

The Times cited “a person close to the company” as the source for its assertion that Googlers themselves engineered the prank.

Google bombing is the practice of creating so many links to a particular Web site that it fools Google’s popularity-based search algorithms, forcing that site to come up first in Google’s search results for the words in that link. Earlier examples have included “miserable failure,” which linked to George W. Bush’s White House biography, and “talentless hack,” which linked the website of one Andy Pressman, the world’s first Google-bombing victim.

Ironically, as Technology Review reported in its July/August issue, Google itself predicted in its initial filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the IPO could “adversely impact relations” inside the company. In that case, the company was referring to inequities in the distribution of stock and stock options among Google employees. Could relations be souring even before Google’s stock price rockets to the heavens?


Update, 6/30/04: The New York Times has issued a correction to its June 22 story stating that Google critic Daniel Brandt, rather than Google insiders, launched the “out of touch“ Google bomb. Brandt publishes Google Watch, a watchdog site arguing that Google abuses its market-leading position in the search industry. I regret that I did not learn about Brandt’s involvement myself before repeating the Times’ erroneous information; The Register was reporting about Brandt’s Google bombing campaign as early as March 23.

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