Alexia Tsotsis of SF Weekly last night reported on a tweet sent out by Digg CEO Kevin Rose that said he had heard from a “very credible source” that Google will soon launch a “Facebook Killer” called Google Me (here’s how our Brad McCarty thinks they can do it).
Tsotsis also points out that Echo VP Chris Saad believes that this may be an updated/enhanced version of the current Google Profiles, which would be supported by the fact that Rick Klau, the developer who built Buzz (which requires you to create a Google Profile if you don’t have on already), is now working on Profiles, according to Louis Gray.
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Ok, so let’s take this speculation at face value for a minute and assume that Google is building an enhanced Google Profiles that is meant to take on Facebook. If this is true, then Google going after the wrong target with this move – they should be going after LinkedIn instead.
First of all, consider this – Facebook and Twitter have been growing like weeds over the last year, for good reason – they are innovating and (mostly) listening to their users and giving them what they want (mostly, we’d like some more uptime from Twitter for instance). LinkedIn on the other hand is stagnating in our view, and simply not living up to its potential. So, of the three, we consider LinkedIn the, well weak link, in the social media chain, therefore making it the easiest target of the three (though not necessarily an easy target overall).
Business is in Google’s DNA
Not only is it the easier target, building a service around peoples’ professional network – instead of their social one – is a much better fit for Google. Google has shown time and again that they do not have “social DNA”, and they more or less confirmed that when they started a search for a Head of Social (wonder if they’re advertising on LinkedIn…). However, Google has a keen business cut-and-dry business sense – and one that they are heavily pushing with Google Apps – so building a professional network just makes a lot of sense for Google.
Google Me indeed
First of all, the name “Google Me” really says it all. Yeah, you might Google someone you want to date, but you’re much more likely at this point to check that kind of info out on Facebook – Google has already lost the dating game. However, if you’re considering hiring someone (or even bringing them in for an interview for that matter), it’s almost corporate malfeasance to not extensively Google that person first (and then probably check LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. – but Google is first). For established, Web-savvy professionals, most often or not you’re either going to see their LinkedIn page or their own website as the first result (and increasingly Twitter handle as well). That said, Google controls their search engine. If they want to highlight a Google Me profile at the top of the page, they can (and probably should if they want to win).
GMail is key
Also at the center of this is GMail. People use GMail for all the purposes that email is meant for of course, but GMail is certainly a standard for business (and many emails that don’t have @gmail.com in them are actually hosted by GMail), so building a professional network using GMail is quite feasible, whereas with a non-professional social service, well – Google has tried to build social networks out GMail in the past and has failed, so that’s that.
Beyond the hiring process, businesses could use Google Me + Apps/GMail + Buzz + Mobile/Android (if done correctly) as perhaps as a kind of Yammer on steroids, something that could perhaps help them in their corporate attention fight with Microsoft (Google is, after all, big enough to take on multiple companies at a time).
So to summarize, Google should focus on taking down LinkedIn because:
- It will be easier than taking down either Facebook or Twitter
- Employers instinctively already Google people as nearly the first thing during the hiring process
- It fits better into their business culture and services, including Docs and GMail
One last thought – maybe Google should just buy LinkedIn? What do you think?