Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Google's product production pipeline

This is something I've been thinking about for a while since Google's pace of product launches is both exhilarating and exhausting and worse, accelerating.

At the end of last year, Google had about 5,680 fulltime employees. Let's say about half are business and half technical/engineering. Another rough guess that about half of the tech staff provides infrastructure and development support of existing products gives us 1,420 developers working on coding innovations.

I'm guessing that these developers work in teams of 5 or 6 people which means that there about 250 teams working on projects. This makes sense in the context of priorizing their "Top 100 projects" which I believe they do on a weekly basis.

Using their 70-20-10 rule, that means there are about 175 search/advertising projects and 75 related and unrelated projects, some critical like Desktop Search and others just because they're cool like Google Mars.

In any case, most the buzz goes to the new, non-search projects and even throwing out half of them as unworthy, that's 3 launches a month.

This just gets more distracting as they continue to hire.

One area that Google clearly needs to innovate is the way they launch products . . . they are already swamping out the good will and attention span of their fans. I thought the gmail launch was extremely intelligent (and of course viral) because it was controllable. Why don't they use a mechanism like that to make sure their launches go a little more smoothly?


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