Worth Reading: The Myth of the Algorithm

©IDG Communications, Inc. Photo contributed by Matthew Mikaelian.


If you want to get a tech company’s leader in a lather, say that it seems like his company is more services than tech. No way, no how. We’re living in the Age of the Algorithm. Much of this is thanks to Google, of course, which owns the most valuable of algorithms: the search algorithm. Thanks to that, Google gets to make money while it sleeps. Not so much for services businesses like, say, agencies. They’re in the grubby business of hiring people to create value. Nowadays that’s out of fashion. Rick Webb, a co-founder of The Barbarian Group, sees a certain mythology taking hold in this cult of the algorithm. The dirty secret of many “tech” businesses is they’re very reliant on services. Google’s sold plenty through self-service, but it has armies of sales people. And besides, search is an anomaly. As one digital media veteran once put it to me, “Search is bought, not sold. All other advertising is sold, not bought.” Webb echoes this sentiment in an article on BetaBeat:

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