Would Google be allowed to fail?

Posted by on May 4, 2011 in geeky stuff | 1 comment

On a train journey yesterday I was reading the latest Wired magazine which has a very good set of articles/interviews on the culture of failure #1 (especially the difference between the US and EU attitudes to) and it got me thinking…

  • In the same way that some banks were “too large to fail”, do we now have a set of tech companies too large too fail?

Let’s imagine all the lawsuit insanity around at the moment resulted in Google (I choose them merely as an example #2) owing more money than they could afford to pay (I know this is unlikely!), forcing them into bankruptcy/closure…

  • Would they be allowed to fail?

Taking another example, the US government asked Twitter to postpone maintenance when #iran was going on; Imagine if they were declaring bankruptcy instead.

What about some of the other lesser known companies we rely on for internet architecture?

Whilst I’d feel fairly secure that our worldwide information superhighway could withstand the collapse of one or two tech giants, there are undoubtedly parallels with the way banks form a financial global infrastructure that we rely upon.

  • Could we imagine a bail-out for tech companies?

Looking at the ridiculous (there I said it) over-valuations of certain group buying (and other) sites, is there evidence of a second bubble?

What would make a tech company too big too fail in an internet-dependent society that suffered a second dot com crash of sorts?

Granted, there are numerous anti-trust type lawsuits around the world, from WiFi location hoarding to monopolistic practices and everything in between which act as a kind of brake against this but is it enough?

Side note #1: I’d encourage any of you to run a failure swapshop at Bar Camp or other open format conferences you can, a wonderous exercise.

Side note #2: There is an interesting article from Linux Journal “EOF The Google Exposure” along the lines that Google as a search and advertising giant is too big too fail. I don’t agree entirely with that article as they have proven to be good at moving into many other areas (apps, android, video..) which are starting to generate returns.

1 Comment

  1. I’m sure if this ever came about, the section of the company (for a broad-based player like Google, Intel or Microsoft) being sued (search, docs, infrastructure or whatever) would be spun off as a seperate entity, creating a “bad bank” as it were.

    That would then take the heat, collapse as it couldn’t pay, and the rest of the company would carry on as normal, reabsorbing the rogue entity once the heat was off. I’m sure the US government would grease the wheels of any deal like that in the unlikely event it had to be done.

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