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Google SA briefing draws a blank

By   |  February 18, 2008

The words most often said at this morning’s Google South Africa briefing in Johannesburg were: “We can’t comment on that. It’s not useful to discuss it.” Obviously Google is playing its cards close to its chest but for a company that makes money from sharing others people’s information it is remarkably coy with its own details.

Even Google SA country manager Stafford Masie was on a tight leash. Known for going out on a limb and declaring all manner of top secret plans, Masie waited patiently throughout the presentation for Google’s global engineering vice president Douglas Merrill to give him the go-ahead to divulge even the most mundane of information.

Obviously Google likes to set the agenda on what it does and doesn’t share but sadly this time around it had nothing to offer apart from a few platitudes.

What we still don’t know about Google in South Africa includes whether the company has any serious plans to build infrastructure in SA, how many people are employed by Google locally, whether Google will roll out Adsense for mobile searches locally, or even a hint of what the next big thing from Google might be.

What we do know about Google from this morning’s event is that “Google loves Africa” – the second most popular statement of the morning – and that mobile is a big focus for Google in Africa. On the first it’s not really surprising, everyone knows Africa is the next big market for most businesses. And on mobile being the next bing thing? You don’t need a team of researchers to come up with that breakthrough insight.

Oh, and we also know that Google SA has employees with titles like sales manager and industry manager which means you’re likely to get a call sometime soon from someone trying to sell you online advertising.

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One Response to “Google SA briefing draws a blank”

  1. Jonathan
    February 20th, 2008 @ 10:21 am

    I don’t buy it. Google doesn’t give a shit about Africa. They skill-mine our country (South Africa) extensively, their recruitment division aggressively contacts anyone with any kind of skill in our country, which worsens the situation of our brain drain.

    As if that’s not bad enough, they don’t really give much back to our local technology ecosystem. I recently had a telephonic discussion with one of their senior recruiters, and he said that they would certainly not open a technical office in Africa any time soon. He said that they’re getting one off the ground in India, and that it is taking years to get the right management infrastructure in place.

    If Google is even slightly interested in the well-being of Africa, they can at the very least play nicely with the local industry, and skills development, instead of skill-raping/mining.

    And who cares what Masie has to say anyway? He’s middle management, I bet he doesn’t really know anything that we’ll be interested in anyway.

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