Web2Summit: Could Google Hit a $1T Market Cap?

This afternoon’s panel of four Google Alumni ended with an audience question: Was it insane to consider that Google might reach a $1 trillion market cap? (It’s now at about $150 $200 billion.) Or might that actually happen?

I thought, “Ridiculous!” Several of the panelists, however, had a different take. While none said it was imminent or even likely, their earnest answers indicated that they had thought through and discussed those numbers at Google.

Would that question get serious play at any other company on the planet?

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  • Ferruccio Fortini

    Current market cap for GOOG is not “about $150 billion” — it’s $201.24 billion at close of market on Friday October 19, despite the market (but not GOOG) going down today. So apparently you bllnked and missed a growth spurt of over 30% — forgivably, mind you, since a couple of months ago your “about $150 billion” WOULD have been in the right ballpark… then GOOG grew almost 30% in two months, apparently without you noticing this little detail.

    It would take about 6 more such “minor” growth spurts for Google stock to grow by another factor of five to the “ridiculous” trillion — would you NOTICE any one or more of those?-)

    Unlikely, maybe (about as unlikely as the growth by a factor of 8 over the last 3-plus years); “ridiculous”, well, not nearly as much as a reporter making a 30% error in reporting the key number, it would seem to me… but then, as an accountant, I guess I’m something of a stickler for numbers, ain”t I?-)

  • Corrected.

  • Alex Tolley

    1$T would value GOOG at more that all media companies, publishers and broadcasters combined. That makes no sense to me at all.

  • At the same time, Google’s core value adds are extremely vulnerable to substitution. Every single product they have is differentiated solely by using the results of their crawler as presented by their map-reduce engine. As commodity cluster computing falls in price, it is inevitable that someone will produce a time-shared map-reduce engine, selling time-slices.

    News and analysis of the new hack will spread very quickly, thanks largely to Google’s services. Their stock will tank within hours. Less than 10 years — more than 1 from now, I’m guessing.


  • Google’s users would need to have higher switching costs. Google would have to be #1 in webmail (rather than a distant #3 or 4) and/or social networking platform (Orkut? huh?) to lock in their “installed base”. Even then, the Street already assumes that no one will ever chip away at Google’s market in search. So they would need to dominate the sticky web (which they are far away from doing), just to keep their current valuation. What would it take to get to $1T? Only scenario I can envision is Sergey winning Facebook, Microsoft, Adobe, and News Corp in a poker game with Satan, and Satan has already lost enough hands to Sergey for that game to happen.

  • steve

    I consistently find Thomas Lord’s comments to be more informative and interesting than many of the regular posts on Radar. I have to wonder how the authors on Radar are selected, and haven’t found any great qualifications in their bios.

    In practice, I have stopped reading Radar except when it comes up on other feeds, or I only read Radar to see what the comments section says. The regular posts themselves are written by journalists, so by definition it’s not going to be worth reading.

    While Tim himself has interesting things to say, he is part of the author slash journalist slash publisher tribe. This perpetruates the shameful situation of mass media press getting journos to write about stuff in order to have material to publish.

    I think the difference is that Tim doesn’t publish until he has something to say, while the others publish with standard “hook line, lead-in, story, summary” formats to reach their 3000 word quota.

    Good for newspapers. Good for magazines. Good for traditional media. Sucks for on-demand attention. Sucks for the Net, where a great quantity of information is available, and denial of attention is the new management strategy.

  • Steve,

    You have dragged me out of the closet.

    I found maintaining a personal blog impossible. I couldn’t find a good hook for a focus. I couldn’t generate enough content regularly enough to make it something people would habitually return to.

    But, I am an amateur polemcist as a way to express many things about my experience as a software engineer. So I enganged in a (heretofore) secret project:

    I’ve been writing an (uneditted but coherent) collection of essays, published exclusively as commentary on a small number of blogs.

    Thank you for noticing.


  • “small number of blogs”

    er.. that should be “blogs, public mailing lists, and usenet posts. There are some non-public annexes to the collection in the form of personal correspondance, too.


  • Second time visiting this site after seeing it on the Web2.0 site and getting my account. First time reading “radar”. Interesting to note Lord’s comment on the topic as it appears with a tech/econ forecaster twist.

    This is how I plan to implement my ideas through a tech/econ forecaster twist. I have no training in Tech but seem to understand what I want and what the world might want. All I can say is you may be the first to here it and heard it here, and that such products really exist based on what Web2.0 examples were from their conference. Welcome to Web3.0

    Stay tuned for Web3.0 release in 2008

  • I’m a fan of Thomas’s comments, too.

  • Steve,

    FWIW, the folks posting on radar are not (with the exception of Jimmy Guterman) journalists. The usual connection is that they are organizing the program for one or more of our conferences, and as a result see a lot of interesting stuff.

    Nat is a long time Perl programmer, former project manager for Perl 6.

    Brady used to be the search evangelist for Microsoft, is now deep into the geo/mapping space.

    Sarah works for Metaweb (but used to work with Andrew Savikas on our Tools for Change for Publishing conference. Andrew himself until recently ran our publishing tools group (XML workflow etc.)

    Artur used to run operations for SixApart, and is now working for a startup he won’t name. Jesse was a major player in operations for Amazon.

    Just because you can’t see the source of the threads we’re following doesn’t mean there isn’t a thread there.

    All that being said, your criticism is heard and noted. But in general, we aren’t in fact trying to do traditional tech news. We’re doing “opinion,” and “opinion via news.” The basic premise is that we’re trying to show something about the shape of the future by the stories we pick.

    It’s definitely true that some of us tend to start more with the theme than the news that illustrates the theme, but the theme is definitely there in the background. Sorry it’s not always as clear as you’d like it to be.

  • These numbers are insane – $1T for a 9 year old company…

  • OTOH, it’s an Internet company; where Wal*Mart (market cap of $184B today) has to spend a year or so in planning, permitting and constructing yet another store (granted, they can do lots in parallel), each new Google app can expand to millions of users overnight.

    OTOOH, however, a $1T GOOG might be a hugely attractive target. If I were a criminal, and didn’t just speculate like one on the Net, I’d consider one of the myriad ways to knock its share value down 10-20% at a pop. An easy way to net a couple of million in discrete options trading (or even more distantly, in investments *related* to the health of Google), though at a cost of hundreds of billions worth of fluctuation in the markets.

  • Well, we now have a trillion-dollar company, and it’s not Google: It’s PetroChina, the Chinese oil producer, which just had its IPO (thanks, pt).