Facebook’s disastrous attempt at an anti-Google smear campaign is an example of how heated things have become between the search giant and the social network. Indeed, this is Silicon Valley’s new big rivalry, and we see it playing out on many fronts.
What makes this contest especially interesting — and fit for a “Knots Landing” script — is that almost all the key executives running Facebook used to work at Google. And now they want to crush Google. A quick search on LinkedIn (admittedly, not 100% accurate) shows that 358 current Facebook employees used to work at Google. (Facebook’s new campus fits 3,600 people.)
Why is talent leaving Google for Facebook? There is the perception that Google web development has peaked and is headed for decline. Really, what more can it do with search? And — barring a miracle — it pretty much failed at social. Google’s 26,000-person workforce creates the kind of bureaucratic slog that deprives creative minds of oxygen, forcing entrepreneurial execs to run for a breath of fresh air.
In response, Google has been forking over enormous pay packages to get key folks to stay. But the top ex-Googlers at Facebook have already made mountains of cash at the search engine; now they’re positioned for another windfall with Facebook’s mega IPO on the horizon.
Silicon Valley has a long history of tectonic rivalries — Google vs. Microsoft, Intel vs. Apple. Big difference? The Googlers who run Facebook know the enemy all too well.