Calacanis on Google: “If they’re taking traffic away from Wikipedia, how are they gonna treat everyone else?”
In June, Jason Calacanis publicly turned down a deal with YouTube to renew his partnership contract. He penned a blog post explaining why, arguing that YouTube might be great for building audiences, but it was a terrible deal for content creators. YouTube keeps 45 percent of the revenue from video promotions, and acts like an expensive middleman between publishers and advertisers.
He chatted about it with Sarah Lacy on stage at last night’s PandoMonthly.
Calacanis thinks Google is going to be the big story of the next decade. “No company has ever had this level of ambition. No company has ever had this level of intelligence in the company. But they have good intent,” he says. Calacanis thinks that it’s important for partners to advise Google to do business in a sustainable way. He told his Google contacts that instead of thinking about growth growth growth, they should be thinking about smart growth — maintaining and increasing their sustainable partnerships with other people.
“It’s not going to be much fun to win alone. And it’s not going to be much fun if you roll over all these people,” Calacanis says, “You don’t need to win everything. But you’re kind of smiling like, ‘That’s so naive Jason,’”
“No, I’m smiling because coming from you that’s funny, because you were always the guy who wanted to win everything,” Sarah Lacy responded.
Trying to win everything will be Google’s demise according to Calacanis. He pointed out that Rupert Murdoch seemed like a loon saying no one should trust Google. Back then that was crazy talk. But now, more people are starting to believe it.
Calacanis reiterated his well-known stance that Google is not a net positive for content companies, it’s a net negative.
“On search, as an example, they claim the organic search results have not changed. But you know from covering it they bought Zagat, a content company, they put that up top. Google Plus, and YouTube videos and sports scores, and the little Wikipedia box, putting that up there with the tiniest little Wikipedia link.” The end result shifted everything down the page by 400 pixels. “If they’re taking the traffic away from Wikipedia, which is a non-profit, how do you think they’re gonna treat everyone else?” Calacanis says. He explained that the additional content moved organic search results 400 pixels down the page, which has a huge impact in search land. Ninety-five percent of the clicks occur in the first 400 pixels.
“They’ve become really good at navigating and not triggering what Microsoft triggered by putting Internet Explorer into Windows and making it free,” Calacanis says. “They’ve just learned how to perfectly game the government.”