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Archive for November, 2011

X Marks the Spot

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Nice reporting in New York Times about the secretive Google X division.

Secretive, but not exactly top secret. While Google is very much keeping things under wraps in its long-term research division, there has been wiggle room on its title. I have three business cards from researchers in the division, and all boast the Google X connection. In fact, the “X” in the business card is dropped out, and you can see through the card. One of the cards, belonging to Sebastian Thrun (he of the self-driving car) is made of thin metal.

It’s kind of a joke. When these guys give you a card, you say, “I thought that this doesn’t offiically exist.” And they laugh, or roll their eyes. In any case, considering this, I find it strange that the Times claims that many Googlers are totally in the dark about Google X.

Speaking of the car, it’s breathtaking to consider the Times’ revelation that Google is considering actually manufacturing them. This seems like a stretch even for Google. (But as I write consistently in In the Plex, Larry Page likes to think really big, so who knows? By the way did I mention that Amazon just named In the Plex as the best business book of 2011? Just sayin’)

The article reports what has been clear for a while: Sergey Brin is focusing on his X files. When Larry became the CEO designate last January, the two co-founders did kind of a switch. Larry had been most interested in the long-term stuff, but moved away from that. Literally, as he transplanted his office to the area where Emerald Sea (now known as Google+) was being developed. Sergey, who had an office in the Emerald Sea building, moved out. In his public appearances this year, he’s been talking glowingly of the X stuff, and has promised we would see something big from that in the coming months.

Literally, this is the X factor in Google. What comes out of this division may be a brand new multi-billion dollar business. Or not. That’s what rolling big dice is all about.