Thursday, May 10, 2007

It's all so simple....

As I look for a job here in Switzerland, I have a lot of time to think. Lately, I have been thinking about some of the big web companies; Yahoo, Amazon, Google etc.

One thing connects all of these companies, and that is they all started out as really simple ideas. Good ideas, but really simple.

Take Yahoo for example. Yahoo basically started out as a single page of interesting links that people could visit. Then that page grew too long, and the page turned into categories of interesting links, then came a portal, mail and search. But it really started out just as links to sites that one guy found interesting.

Amazon started out much the same. A list of books that this guy was selling, at a good price. I think he was selling and mailing the books from his home. He might have even been using email for the orders at one point. Then he automated the ordering process, and went from there. Again, though, it just started out with one simple idea. Sell books from a webpage.

Google started out a bit differently, but it had roots in the same sort of idea. Google's first ancestor was Webcrawler. Remember Webcrawler? The first search engine? It was a Perl script that contacted webservers and tried to figure out what the pages were about. A Perl script written by one guy, Brian Pinkerton. The site had a cool name, and a simple idea. Webcrawler was eventually purchased by AOL. Then came other search engines; Ask Jeeves, Infoseek, Inktome, Excite, Yahoo!, Verity. Then came the metacrawlers like Dogpile that searched the search engines. But the guys at Google had a better way to do searching, and a cheaper way hosting things. They have taken what was a simple idea and have grown it into a huge enterprise.

All of these successful companies have started out with really simple ideas, but have kept growing and have become the beasts that they are today.

So, now all I have to do is come up with the right simple idea! ;-)


Matthias said...

Hey Greg, remember me? We met at Blogcamp in Zurich a while ago. I'd have thought there are lots of IT jobs available in Switzerland, but I guess if you're still looking, I must be wrong. Good luck with the job hunt!

As for simple ideas, here's a really simple one: Rule the world!

(I think there might be a problem with the execution of that plan, though)

Greg said...

Hi Matthias, I dropped by your blog and had a quick look (and I'll need to do a bit more reading when I get the chance; Es wird guete Ueben fuer meine Deutschkentnisse), and now I remember meeting you.

It's been pretty hard finding a job in Basel, but I've been looking more seriously in Zurich. I'm trying to network with a few more techie people there, which I think will help me find something. I have to convince people I have kept my skill current and that I can speak and write a bit of German. My best skill is that I can learn new things. Things really haven't changed too much in IT.

Matthias said...

Yeah, networking is important... but I have no talent for it :-).

I'm in a XING group called Swiss Web 2.0, perhaps this would be interesting for you:

And seems to be a fairly important forum for IT folks in Switzerland. I don't read it very often though.

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