Nov 192008

A few weeks back I came across this really cool post over at the official Google blog. It seems their newest building in Mountain View lies across Permanente Creek from the main building, which also houses the famed Google cafeteria.

So, being engineers and innovators some of the employees built their own zip-line to cross the creek rather than take the longish walk down to the government supplied bridge.  When some of their coworkers were uncomfortable with the zip-line (despite numerous improvements) a bridge was built as well.  Again, more improvements soon followed.  All was wonderful in the world until government reared its ugly head…

But when we got in on Monday, we found that the bridge and zip-line were both gone: the city of Mountain View asked that it be taken down. Well, it was fun while it lasted, and for a few weeks Googlers had a faster and more exciting way to cross Permanente Creek. More importantly, it’s great to know that we work at a company that lets us live out our rascally dreams.

In other words,some Google employees had found a simple and fun way to make their lives easier.  They’d developed and created these paths with their own funds, but as soon as the city of Mountain View balked (for whatever reason) they immediately acquiesced and returned to the government approved paths like good little sheeple.  What a waste.  So next timeyou start thinking how brave Google is for standing up against the government, just remind yourself about the doomed Google Zip-LineBeta.

Nov 102007

You never know where you’re going to find examples of how the market self-regulates to create its own efficiency without (or more accurately despite) government controls. For example, A new blog on Micro-ISVs and start-ups by entrepreneur Harry Schechter deals primarily with Independent Software vendors. However, I just came across a great post that he wrote back in September explaining the real reason for all the generic “store brand” products sitting on drug store shelves.

It seems SchechterTech was looking for a new device and couldn’t decide whether to purchase them in bulk or manufacture the items themselves. After doing a little research and getting a quote from an existing manufacturer they went ahead and made some themselves. But that’s not where this story ends! They then took the extra step of taking their newly developed product to the old vendor and promptly received a new quote that saved them almost 30% on the original manufacturers product! That’s a huge market advantage.

Moral of the story: when faced with an “either/or” decision, don’t forget to consider the wisdom of doing both!