After reading the Randy Falco interview in the Washington Post today, something that made me ever more joyful to be out of AOL, one of the biggest mistakes of the Falco-Grant regime occurred to me.
Grant is notorious amongst those who pay attention to such things for demanding that AOL properties copy the look and feel of Google and Yahoo. Even when told it would cost AOL millions (as happened when they made AOL search a carbon-copy of Google), Grant responded, “What part of make it look like Google don’t you understand?”
But there’s a part of “make it look like Google” that Grant and Falco will never understand. Google is a company that puts decision-making power in the hands of web-savvy engineers. Yahoo is a place where the people who make product decisions are expected to understand the Internet. But Grant and Falco’s AOL will never look like such companies.
It’s sad, truly sad. There’s a lot of great people at AOL, people who understand their industry, who can come up with innovative products and great technologies.
But they are not in charge. Instead, AOL is run by people who just don’t get that achieving the successes of a Google or a Yahoo is not a matter of copying their markup.