You read that right. CEO. Chief. Evil. Officer.
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I love Google’s products. I’ve deconstructed its strategy – and written reports on it. But even Google can’t grow forever. Eventually, it will need a dollop of evil to compete - maybe even a full marinade. As I look forward to the new year, I see a lot of people angling to get on Santa’s good side. Not me. I’ve decided to give up my innovation business and passion for Kazakh eagle hunting to help Google live up to it’s naughty potential. To prove I’m the best (and only) candidate for Chief Evil Officer, I created this list of 10 diabolical businesses Google could launch if it had loose morals and mounting mob debts. But they’re not evil for evil’s sake. I restricted myself to these two rules:
- It must make or save money for Google or its customers.
- It must use actual information and tools available to Google.
10 Evil Business Opportunities for Google
- Employment & Credit Screening. Great companies start with great people. But what if your candidate has a drug problem, weird fetish, or massive gun collection? Almost every person on the planet has typed their deepest darkest secrets into Google. Whether it’s Search, Gmail, Calendar, or Analytics, Google can build a better profile of you than your own family. Why not use that information to screen job candidates? Sure Google can start with its own employees, but the real money is in offering the service to other companies. Imagine a world of pristine cubicles, free of excessive noise, odd smells and pathological brown-nosers…The same logic applies to credit scoring. Google’s people profiles could easily replace or supplement your credit score. Lenders use it. So do landlords and cell phone companies. Every neighborhood can be perfect again, just like everything was in the 1950’s.
- Theft alerts. Android knows exactly where you are at all times. Gmail confirmations alert Google when you buy fancy new stuff. And your calendar says when you’re on vacation or visiting friends in Cleveland. Big mistake. You should never have left… Of course, it would be undignified to have Google employees dressed in camouflage, sneaking into people’s back yards. Google knows your UPS and FedEx tracking numbers. Someone could be there to sign for the package when it arrives. But that’s not scalable. The better way is to sell a subscription with alerts on people’s whereabouts and the kind of stuff they have. The wealthier the target, the more expensive the subscription. Then, it’s up to the subscriber to do all the unsavory bits. Yuck.
Blackmail“Background Checks”. Bad legislation got you down? Not anymore. Get your senator to do your bidding. With Blackmail, your senator’s searches for tanned dwarves tell Google exactly how tall a temptress to hire to meet you at your hotel. Your affair will be discreetly recorded with Android phones or by white guys wearing Google Glass. This memorial of indiscretion will guarantee compliance by the target. Of course, the company could use it internally or promote it as a background checking service.
- Competitor data mining. Plenty of employees from competing tech companies use Gmail or Google Drive to send or store the occasional work document. Many research new products on Google, particularly Bing employees. Some even sync their calendars with Google. This isn’t a direct money maker, but it’s a competitive advantage.
- Home network “darknet”. Google knows every wi-fi password that’s ever been entered into an Android phone. (Try it yourself. Get a new phone, log in, and watch it magically connect to all your networks. ) Google could discreetly log in and look around Larry Ellison’s hard drive. Google could offer a “Darknet” subscription for people who want to surf other people’s data.
- Startup “success farming”. Google knows before anybody what the traffic and search activity is for any site. Almost every site uses the free Google analytics, which reveals specific page performance and visitor demographics across every web site. So if some online service is picking up steam, why not start a competing one or acquire their competitor?
- NSAspionage. Google can sell to foreign governments the names and data being requested by the NSA. It could even have a consumer version of the site for subscribers who suspect they might be under investigation. They can log in and see if data was requested and pay to hide the incriminating stuff, as Yelphas been accused of doing.
- Sell data immunity. Google could charge people a premium fee to make their data self-destructible. Emails disappear, history is never stored, cookies instantly erased. No advertiser or third party would ever have access to your data. (Of course, the NSA will instantly demand a list of all subscribers to this service. )
- Welfare. Why beat around the bush? The government is handing out tons of cash and most people have at some point, indiscriminately emailed their social security number. Starting with the dead and expanding to the living, Google can give all of them eternal life…as welfare recipients. Of course, the checks would be mailed to Google employees, some of whom will take on dozens of phantom roommates. Eventually, the company won’t have to pay salaries. Taxpayers will.
- Competitor debilitation. Every business needs to show up high in search results (and on other Google sites), especially startups. Google could place its own products above theirs. Or use the possibility as leverage in negotiations to lower the price of acquisition targets.
I hope you enjoyed having a little fun with me. Of course, none of these things could ever happen. But it’s fun to speculate. If you have your own ideas, add them to the comments below. If they’re good, I’ll write a follow-up with a crowd-sourced list. And don’t forget to subscribe to the IdeaFaktory newsletter for email updates on my future articles. I promise to use your info only for good, not evil.
image source: Wikipedia (edited)