The next time Google invites Wall Street analysts to a six hour financial presentation, it may as well direct them to a point in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. Microsoft already has a wonderful MapPoint "drowning service" that will show them precisely how to get there.
That surely was the unspoken sentiment behind Google's first ever analyst meeting in Mountain View this week, which left Wall Street's finest perplexed. CFO George Reyes gave a brief introduction, took a couple of questions, but didn't give a presentation, as is the norm.
Instead Charlie Ayers, former Grateful Dead chef, described how he'd prepare a delicious lunch of grilled pork tenderloin.
Executives gave nothing away.
The slideshow can be found here, although we've distilled some of the essential banality of the day by capturing some screenshots, such as this one:
This approach is consistent with the company's attitude towards accountability. While it's happy to see the Googleplex menu published ("Joaquin's Potato Salad - steamed fingerling potatoes, with red onion, English peas, basil, parsley and a lemon aioli - and Portabella Mushroom Pizza - Roasted portabella mushrooms topped with a roasted tomato sauce, kalamata olives, pepperonchinis and parmesan," to take one day's example), it won't publish a policy for Google News.
"They had a formal presentation by their chef but not their chief financial officer," Mark Mahaney, American Technology Research told the New York Times. "I have never been to an investor day where the CFO didn't speak."
However, CEO Eric Schmidt reprised his creepy line that he wants a "Google that knows you".
Last year Schmidt told USA Today that he dreamt of a product "that... would have access to everything ever written or recorded, know everything the user ever worked on and saved to his or her personal hard drive, and know a whole lot about the user's tastes, friends and predilections."
So Google plans to improve its search by making use of its users' personal data. All the time we thought Google was run by brilliant mathematicians, we were wrong. Data harvesting now appears to the preferred way forward.
While we hold Wall Street's wisest in about the same high regard as Brin and Page evidently do, the company would be foolish not to pay heed to public opinion - especially now that Google is the custodian of $1.8 billion worth of other people's money.
In a recent Google competition on the excellent Fark.com, at least half the submitted Photoshop entries were on the theme of 'Big Brother'. ®