This week Google announced (or discussed... the talk from Google rarely rises to the traditional definition of "announcement") its effort to develop cars that drive themselves, as well as its intention to fund massive offshore wind power projects. The company's acknowledged eclecticism when it comes to investment, product creation and business development seems to me to indicate that it is quickly moving well beyond it's Internet Dominator role to act as a generalized technological and financial fulcrum for a host unrelated projects. Actually, the term "unrelated" sounds unfairly negative. It looks to me that all of Google's extra-search work, from Android to offshore wind to Google.org, is easily accommodated by a shared vision from Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Eric Schmidt and the people they've selected to run and grow Google. I've been picking through Google's site lately -- looking at all of that "Corporate Information" and background text that most Google users never see -- and it's amazing to me that despite the temptation to paint Google as a case study in corporate ADD, its broad mission and expansive vision really does seem more galvanizing that distracting. Reading Google's Ten Things it becomes clear that clarity is not necessarily a virtue -- that Google's business model has no stated end point or grandiose ultimate goal. The company exists only to continually expand the reach of what's possible via innovation and a culture that values and nurtures it.
So, is Google more of a process...a mind set...an ecosystem? Does it function more like the most modern manifestation of Berkshire Hathaway -- staggering share price included -- but even more wildly eclectic? I'd love to be able to take some serious time for myself and try to concoct a mission statement, positioning platform and elevator pitch for Google that a) was comprehensive enough to do the business justice, b) was specific enough to make the vision seem real to a rank outsider, and c) was credible! That would be one hell of a project. The challenge would be to get through a solid first draft before "Google Space" launches and "Google Food" rumors start to bubble.