Popping the Google Hype Bubble

Seth Jayson at Motley Fool takes a scalpel to Google’s soft underbelly with a fascinating deconstruction of Google’s business model, the effect it’s had on the web, and the prospects for the future — or lack thereof. Some of the my favorite passages:

Whether or not you believe that the junk sites out there peddling AdSense ads are honest commerce or capitalizing on large-scale click fraud, there’s little doubt in my mind that we’ve got Google to thank for it. There’s simply no reason for people to set up these sites if they can’t skim dough via third-hand revenue sharing enabled by Google’s business model. With Yahoo! and others set to get in on the same gig, I don’t think we’ll see this trend abate.

Moreover, targeted, structured data behind the scenes will be the new source of high-worth information, which means that businesses will be a lot more interested in the user-generated recommendations that Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) and eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) offer their millions of customers. That’ll be a lot more useful than what Google knows about 5,000 boy-crazy girls on MySpace or Blogspot who’ve been trading reviews on Justin’s latest single.

With AdSense providing so much of Google’s revenue, I don’t think Big Goo is in any hurry to flip over the rock and show everyone out there what’s underneath. And that’s where those stock sales come back in. Why do insiders continue to drop all those billions if the sky’s the limit? Diversification? Ha! Go ahead, pull the other one.

Take a hard look at this problem, and a hard look at those insider sales, and then ask yourself why on Earth Google is spending time on doodads that no one needs, like an online spreadsheet. I think the answer is “because it needs news that looks like the future.”

Read the whole article — it’s mind expanding. Even if you’re not a big fan of “house of cards,” “things are not as they seem” theories like I am, this is a facinating piece of analysis.

Read it and remember — the hype machine is all around you.