Today, In the Plex author Steven Levy has an interview with his favorite subject headlined, “Google’s Larry Page on Why Moon Shots Matter.” Well, naturally they matter a lot, we thought. Doing shots on the moon can get very complicated what with the no gravity and alcohol in an obvious collision course.
However, we soon found out that when Larry Page is talking about moon shots, he means “the gospel of 10x.” Not venture capitalists’ dream of a 10x return, but the managerial mission to get “his employees to create products and services that are 10 times better than the competition.” As Mr. Page tells Wired:
“I worry that something has gone seriously wrong with the way we run companies. If you read the media coverage of our company, or of the technology industry in general, it’s always about the competition. The stories are written as if they are covering a sporting event. But it’s hard to find actual examples of really amazing things that happened solely due to competition. How exciting is it to come to work if the best you can do is trounce some other company that does roughly the same thing? That’s why most companies decay slowly over time. They tend to do approximately what they did before, with a few minor changes. It’s natural for people to want to work on things that they know aren’t going to fail. But incremental improvement is guaranteed to be obsolete over time. Especially in technology, where you know there’s going to be non-incremental change.”
Google has referred to this moon shot concept before, offering up an illuminating Venn diagram of the intersection of Huge Intersection, Radical Solution, and Breakthrough Technology. We’re still slightly disappointed Mr. Page isn’t going whole hog on the idea using his $234 billion market cap to take a moon shot on colonizing Mars. Elon Musk can’t do this all by himself, Googlers.