Rock-’em-sock-’em Competition

I’m relatively new to the tech world, so I wasn’t aware of the competition between Engadget and Gizmodo or the history between their founders. Fortune put together a helpful round-up of the characters. While I found the story interesting, I thought one of the most important ideas was in the last paragraph:

When pressed, the two rock-’em-sock-’em journos will admit that competition has made both sites better.

Funny how something that’s so good for business seems to be something many companies would prefer to skip altogether. John D. Rockefeller said that, “Competition is a sin,” (link)—a funny sentiment for the first U.S. billionaire.

A recent post on I, Cringely (courtesy of Robert Scoble’s link blog) highlighted how Google, an upstart in the not-to-distance past, appears to be adopting the tactics of the company it wanted to outperform:

…Google took a long look at investing in or acquiring free411 under a nondisclosure agreement between the two companies, only to abruptly break off discussions and start its own competing service. Is this beginning to sound familiar? This strategy of getting start-ups to explain their business models and share their technologies was practically invented by Microsoft, which would then break off talks, start a competing product or service and use pressure on industry partners to put the smaller company out of business.

Hmm, I guess Google’s short-term memory is, well, short. Would Google have accomplished its insane success if not pushed to to compete against Microsoft, Yahoo, and every other company in the world? How well does this practice match up with Google’s informal motto of “Don’t be evil?”

Maybe it’s a personal thing, but I love it when there’s someone who’s better than me because it pushes me to do better, to be better. I believe you’re more likely to get stuck in neutral if there isn’t someone taunting you at least a little. Perhaps competition brings out the worst in us, I also think it can bring out the best in us, too.



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November 2007
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