What Ails Google?
Rampant and largely uninformed speculation follows.
Seems to be a bit of an overshoot, but that's a possibility.
There's been speculation, some of it mine, that something large ails teh GOOG. What specifically that is or might be is hard to say.How it is manifesting
is somewhat clearer:
* Google+ is being shut down.
* The shutdown period was cut, without notice
* Google employee morale seems sharply down.
* Google employee exits are noticeable, though whether or not they depart from trend is hard to say.
* Communications from Google particularly
regarding the Google+ sunset, are all but nonexistent.
* Google are actively thwarting
attempts by users (including myself) to share information about the G+ sunset.
* As are Google TC and PE volunteer moderators at the Google+ Help community.
And quite probably more.
We got problems
I'm thinking of the types of issues which might affect companies. These are numerous.
* Revenue shortfall, realised or forecast.
* Major shift of business, realised or forecast.
* Major changes to regulatory environments, realised or forecast.
* Potential political shifts.
* Internal power struggle.
* Union activity.
* Employee revolt at business practices or direction.
* Loss of goodwill / brand equity.
* Criminal investigation(s) or charge(s).
* Civil lawsuit(s) or charges, possibly from customers, users, employees, governments/regulators, and/or shareholders.
* Major competitor lawsuit.
* Regulatory investigations or actions.
* Legislative review or attention.
* Discovery of internal fraud.
* Discovery of external fraud.
* Stock or debt-related malfeasance, internal or external.
* Forecast changes to the investment, finance, or business landscape generally.
* National / international finance or other investigations.
* Unorganised but significant internal criminal or tortuous activity: smuggling, drugs, sexual harassment, child pornography, prostitution, espionage.
* Same, but organised, that is, multiple parties, possibly above rank-and-file.
* National security actions, accompanied by gag order.
* Other legal actions, accompanied by gag order.
* Major hacking or infiltration events, non-state actors.
* Major hacking or infiltration events, state actors.
* Infiltration by organised crime.
* Infiltration by noncriminal non-state actors.
* Infiltration by state actors.
* Significant data breach, possibly ongoing.
* Realisation of major core technological vulnerabilities in software, hardware, network, or other operational vulnerabilities, not readily addressed.
* Death by a thousand cuts: multiple coinciding threats or attacks diverting executive attention.
What symptoms fit the patient?
Several of these are documented as being present -- employee dissatisfaction, possible unionisation, employee revolt, and numerous ongoing lawsuits (not uncommon for large organisations).
The competitor lawsuit is unlikely as that would be publicly filed, as would most civil lawsuits.
Criminal investigation(s) are possible, though unlikely.
The fraud potentials, as well as infiltration, hacking, and data breach possibilities would all require some form of timely public disclosure except in truly extraordinary
Major technical vulnerabilities seem to me unlikely to be specific to Google itself, and would therefor likely include other
companies acting in some similar fashion, unless they pertain to Google-specific, non-public codebases, hardware designs, or network architectures. Which is possible. I'm not
aware of other companies which have clamped down as Google have, though I've also been largely focused on Google+ shutdown issues.
The political landscape is shifting in many ways in many places, with the ongoing capture of US government by Russian influences, Brexit, rising nationalism across numerous other nations, and the like. Which of these have specific impact on Google and Google+ is hard to say, though computational propaganda techniques are one possible aspect.
Massive revenue shortfall could give rise to major internal disruptions, though I don't see it resulting in the specific actions being taken as regards Google+, including the active frustration of data export and organisation amongst users. All of these issues would have material business impacts and have to be reported on financial statements.
I'm aware of no such reports, though I've not yet investigated.
This suggests something
possibly central to Google+ itself, and involving data or information on the platform of a nature sufficiently diffuse to attempt thwarting most export of same
, and or a suspected adversarial user network, again, on the platform. That seems a bit of a stretch, even to me, but I'll present it as a possible cause.
The various crime / tortuous activity angles may
be at play, but would tend not
to produce what seems to have been at least
a three-month, if not an eleven month
(March 2018 - January 2019) and ongoing
concern, without any public announcement of the nature of the problem.
Most criminal investigations take a few weeks, possibly a few months, not
the better part of a year. This could be an outlier, though that's low likelihoood.
(I'll note that last year's mysterious investigations and shutdowns at a New Mexico Sunspot Solar Observatory was tied to child pornography. That resulted in an eleven day
sealing of the facility, though presumably the janitor involved was not operating at Google scale. There was much speculation over other possible natures, virtually all wrong.)
Regulatory and legislative actions are also typically fairly public, and it seems unlikely that something massive and wide-reaching would not somehow be public.
That leaves various internal struggles, ongoing major
investigations of a fraud, criminal, tortuous, or national security nature, major infiltration, major Google-specific technical vulnerability, major non
-Google-specific technical vulnerability, and death-by-a-thousand-cuts possibilities as leading suspects from my list.
I'll note that there's nothing obvious
in the Google+ data I've been compiling that stands out as problematic with the network itself.
There's the impact on Google employee morale. Generally
attack tends to increase
morale. It's betrayal from within, and most especially by leadership, which tends to decrease
it. Which points at a Google-specific, and likely leadership or management issue. A forecast revenue decline could also be at play -- this would manifest as workforce reductions and lowered morale, though not so much as the utter dysfunction which seems to be accompanying the Google+ shutdown.
But I'm just a space alien cat staring at tea leaves. What do I know?