People ask me how I manage to break news that the nation’s top reporters aren’t able to cover, especially considering that I spend about six hours each day playing Hotel Dash on the iPad and another two browsing the web for pictures of Christina Hendricks.
The answer is that I have many informants in such deep cover that they don’t actually exist. If you really want to get the dirt on a company, having imaginary sources on the inside is the best way to get information so secret that it only exists in my head.
I have one such nonexistent informant at Google, and he or she or whatever has passed on some extremely sensitive and made-up correspondence between Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and his legal team. Schmidt is defending Google against accusations of anticompetitive behavior, and the desperate tone in his letter is as revealing as it is apocryphal.
Here is that letter:
I’m starting to get worried here. Remember when the government’s goons declared Microsoft a monopoly? Snip, snip and suddenly the Evil Empire is housebroken and harmless. When’s the last time you saw someone actually packing a Zune? How many people are jerking it to the idea of a Windows tablet? Probably the same ones who have Zunes.
If we can’t get the Hill off our back, we’re screwed so hard we’ll have pillowcase in our teeth for weeks. I need some solid reasons we’re no more of a monopoly than RC Cola. You’re the heartless legal predators, I know, but I have some ideas.
1. Siri: OK, I know Siri isn’t actually a search engine as such, and currently it has the market share of Beemans gum, but we need to convince the overweight overlords that we’re behind the times. Of course, we don’t mention that we’re breeding cyberneuronic processing drones from the DNA of our best coders or that we’ll have real AI just as soon as we can overturn the laws against human experimentation, nonconsensual DNA extraction and animal cruelty. By the time we bring the Hivelings online, this will have all blown over.
2. Cloud computing: While we’re definitely up to our shoulders in the Cloud, we have an advantage in that nobody knows what cloud computing actually is. We can just point to anyone that’s not us and accuse them of being the industry leader in cloud computing. Dropbox, Spotify, Apple, even fricking RapidShare. Just act like we’re afraid that we’re going to be eaten alive by the Cloud like it’s chlorine gas and we’re charging from a trench outside Ypres.
It’s a World War I reference, look it up.
Anyway, if they ask about Google Docs, Gmail, Google Reader or our upcoming product “Google All Your Data, Everywhere, Forever and Ever,” we can just say that we’re practicing “nimbostratic computation,” which is exactly like cloud computing except we don’t have a monopoly in it.
3. Bing: Wait, never mind. Nobody’s going to buy that. We may as well claim that we’re afraid of DuckDuckGo.
4. Facebook: I’ve been hanging around Zuckerberg at parties and saying things like, “Oh, I hope Facebook doesn’t launch a search engine, that’s the only thing that could stop us.” The IP-appropriating dorkbot isn’t taking the bait. Can you imagine how frustrating it is to not be able to get Zuckerberg to steal an idea? That’s like not being able to get Lady Gaga to wear oversize sunglasses.
Anyhow, maybe we can pull a Cobra-G.I. Joe team-up on the government. We can join forces long enough to defeat our common enemy — the country’s elected representatives — and get back to attacking each other with sharpened pool cues. There aren’t any laws against companies colluding to prevent the appearance of a monopoly, are there?
5. Google Plus: I thought after we scuttled Orkut, Buzz and Google Wave, the overseers would be convinced that we couldn’t find our own ass with both hands and an installed user base. Unfortunately, the latest volley in Operation Incompetence is backfiring on us. In spite of all our missteps and the glacial pace of our feature rollout, people are still using Google Plus. Maybe if we insist that everyone list their actual weight and yearly income publicly, there’ll be enough of an exodus to convince the feds we’re harmless.
6. Extortion: We have a lot of info on a lot of lawmakers. A short list of search terms handed to the right lawmakers at the right time could do a lot to sway the verdict in our favor. It helps us that there isn’t a single senator or member of congress that isn’t addicted to giraffe porn.
Those are just a few ideas. Now come on, give me something I can use. If you can’t prove to the government that we’re not a monopoly, I’ll fire all of you and make sure to crush any company you ever work for.
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Born helpless, nude and unable to provide for himself, Lore Sjöberg overcame these obstacles to become a monopolist, a monochordist and a monocrat.