Start-up cofounder Rand Fishkin has an interesting post on his blog about how simple "for-profit" thinking may not be optimal if the view is just short-term. I'd argue some start-ups aren't profit-focused enough sometimes, but his general outlook is worth noting and he makes some valid points about the nature of doing business today.
Apple as a whole may be worth more, but Google’s trendline, particularly the past 6 months, is far more favorable. Fred’s assertion is that this stems from investors’ sophisticated understanding that Google controls so much of the data, software, and ecosystem around computing. Google’s mission isn’t to make as much money as possible, certainly not in the short term anyway. Google is aiming for total domination of their (ever-expanding) areas of focus. Revenue and profits are merely a helpful side-effect of these efforts.
Later in the week, courtesy of Dan Ariely, I watched this video about Hancock Bank’s remarkable $1.4Billion growth following Hurricane Katrina (it’s worth watching all the way through, but if you don’t have 6 full minutes, start at the 3:44 mark).
The mission of making money isn’t just boring and stale. It’s hard to get excited about. It’s hard to get behind. It’s hard to build a fan-base around. It’s hard to hire for. It’s hard to scale. And it’s hard to stick with something through the muck of despair and failure that inevitably occur if you’re not pursuing something bigger than yourselves – bigger than money.
I don’t mean to suggest that those who relentlessly pursue wealth at the cost of all else don’t occassionally succeed. But I would argue that most businesses that have changed the world in the technology age have been pursuing a mission beyond the financial.