Dear Google, Thanks For Copying My Startup But You’re Doing It All Wrong

5th November 2013

Dear Google,

Today is the day and you finally released “Helpouts" to the public. Congratulations.

Just the other day my team and I at LiveNinja were wondering what was taking you guys so long.

I believe it was much earlier this year when we noticed your employees signing up for LiveNinja and then after TechCrunch leaked your plans it all seemed to make sense.

I’m really happy a small team based out of Miami was able to inspire you in the way that we did and it’s really great to see you guys publicly in the mix at last.

However, I gotta say, now that the veil has been been lifted off of your product and you made your big launch - I’m pretty underwhelmed.

I had high hopes you guys were going to take a similar concept and crush it out of the park. It would have been an awesome validator for the entire space.

However, you didn’t crush it out of the park.

No. This is more like a squeeze bunt back to the pitcher and you’re out at first base. 

What I’m seeing when I look at Helpouts is some of the exact same mistakes we made over a year ago, while our company was still in private beta.

As you can imagine, we’ve learned a lot since we launched LiveNinja publicly, and when you see what we are about to release over the next few months, you’ll realize that you built Helpouts all wrong.

Will people buy some of these Helpouts? Yes. No doubt. But it’s not going to scale in the way you hoped. Not like this.

At LiveNinja, we live for this space. Everyday we’re constantly learning and iterating over our product to better serve our users.

We are extremely passionate about this mission and we’re excited that (with the launch of Helpouts) you believe it’s a mission worth pursuing. I just hope that you, as one of the most renowned companies in the world, will take it as seriously as we do.

In other words, please do not let this be just another product experiment. 

I would really hate to see Helpouts go the way of Google Answers, Buzz, Wave, and others. It would be a huge disappointment. I know the people of the market you’re serving very well and they deserve better than that. 

With this market, you’re dealing with a very specific set of people that want advice over live video AND that are willing to pay for it. You’re also dealing with a set of people that NEED tools like this to generate sustainable income for themselves.

Unfortunately, I worry that you just don’t know that market well enough yet to serve them properly and deliver them repeated value on a consistent basis. 

Google, look, I love ya. You play a huge role in my digital life and provide me a ton of value each and every day. When we heard you were moving into our space, it was more flattering than anything else. I really love competition, and as a competitor I only want to compete against the best of the best. It’s like Mike Tyson in his prime saying that he wants to box with you. 

But while there is no doubt that you’re one of the greatest companies on the planet - this product (so far) is not your best work.  You can and should represent this space better. I think what you, LiveNinja, and all of our other competitors are trying to build is incredibly important to the future of the economy and the overall concepts of the workforce as a whole.

People need these types of tools and they need the people who are building them to want them to exist in the world more than anything else. They need the people building them to make it their life mission to deliver it properly and thoughtfully. 

I hope you can join us in that level of passion as we set out to serve this market of people. Because to us, delivering that value means more than anything else.

On a side note, I’ll actually be visiting Google HQ tomorrow. It’s part of the prize we got when we won Startup World: Miami earlier this year. 

If you’d like some true insights to the market that we’ve been solely focused on serving for over two years now, I’ll be happy to sit down and have an open conversation.

I should be easy to spot. I’ll be the dude rocking the LiveNinja t-shirt. (you can also email me or ping me on twitter at @willaaye​ )

See you soon and welcome to the party,

Will 

ps. thanks for gmail. 

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  5. joseph-segal reblogged this from willaaye and added:
    I guess imitation is the highest form of flattery?
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