Oh, Roger McNamee. If you’re a follower of the travails of the company-formerly-known-as-Palm, then you know him as the face of Elevation Partners and the fellow who thought we’d all be using Pres by now (especially the ladies, because it had a mirror). McNamee is a big name in finance and a big investor in Facebook. Well, Mr. McNamee says we should all just relax and stop trying to make Facebook killers, because Social is Dead.
What he actually seems to mean is that social is over as a buzzword for investors, and it’s now something that “just is”. I kind of agree with him on that. Frankly, unless you’ve got Google-level cash behind you, I doubt you’re going to come out with a new social network.
But he also predicts the death of Microsoft and Google, which is a stretch, honestly. Saying Microsoft’s share of “internet-connected devices” has gone down to 50 percent isn’t much of a statistic when you keep in mind that it’s not because Microsoft is “failing” at their core competency (operating systems), but because the variety of devices that fall under the heading “internet connected” has spiked in the last few years. This includes market segments Microsoft hasn’t even gone after yet. Also, it assumes that the House that Gates Built is just going to sit there and wait to be overtaken. Considering that what we’ve seen of Windows 8 so far and how it embraces touch (which is the new social, if you ask me), then I think it’s way too soon to count them out.
As for his comments on Google, well, it’s rather hard to take seriously someone effusively praising HTML5 and consigning Google to the scrap heap in the same sentence. I guess McNamee never met Ian Hickson. For those too busy to click the link, he’s basically the brains behind the HTML5 spec. Guess what company he works for? I’ll give you a hint — think the number one followed by a hundred zeroes. Google hasn’t so much embraced HTML5 as they’ve swaddled, nursed, and burped it. Even his point about people using websites like Match.com (yikes, imagine a Google dating site) or Realtor.com instead of Google kind of fails, because people find those services via Google in the first place. Yes, Google tried their hand at Google Real Estate (if you blinked, you missed it). Because of these quick adaptations, I expect Google to be around for some time — they have no problem throwing out things that aren’t working for them (or, like Google Labs, ones that are but not well enough).
McNamee’s passion for tech is absolutely something we at techcitement can appreciate and enjoy. However, it takes a little more than “I’m rich and I say so” to drive the market.
Frankly, considering what happened with Palm, the last company he touted as the next big thing, I’m not about to crown him my oracle (although I’m sure the sale worked out well for him).