Google admits to three of its biggest mistakes

By on November 3, 2010, 11:29 AM
Marissa Mayer, Google's VP of Geographic and Local Services, joined in 1999 as the company's 20th employee. During a recent 22-minute interview on Digg Dialogg, Mayer was asked "What do you think Google's biggest mistake has been during your presence there?" Mayer's answer pertained to three products: Wave, Dejanews.com, and Gmail.

“Wave. Certainly there are things we've learnt from that, certain things we would have done differently," Mayer said without any hesitation (this one we're not really too surprised about). "Shutting down Dejanews.com at 11am on a Monday morning, and not having anywhere to post to or browse usergroups was perhaps a mistake," she also admitted (Dejanews was a discussion group website on the Usenet network which Google shutdown and silently archived to its Google Groups service). "Launching Gmail on April Fools day was widely misinterpreted," she added as a final thought (Google often "launches" ridiculous products on April Fools, so many thought Gmail was a joke until they realized it was still around the next day).

You can watch the whole interview below. The mistake question is asked 12 minutes in:

Interestingly, Mayer didn't mention anything about Google's various privacy issues. This is likely because the search giant has many related ongoing lawsuits, as well as settled ones, and it doesn't want any more press about privacy issues.





User Comments: 40

Got something to say? Post a comment
spyx said:

Wow i didnt know gmail was launched on April fools that interestng, but i have to agree that wave was ..well not coletely but a huge failure......

google needs to put it together tiht all this privacy stuff or apple will get the upper hand

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

She joined Google in 1999? How old was she then - 12 years old??

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

TomSEA said:

She joined Google in 1999? How old was she then - 12 years old??

No, she was 24.

Anyway, I am pretty sure these are not the only mistakes Google has made.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Privacy is a concept that is changing in this day and age, but I think that Google is going at it a lot better than other companies, such as Facebook. IMO it seems that Google's bungles are mistakes, whereas a company like Facebook deliberately changes privacy settings, usually without any opt in process, forcing people to scramble around to restore their settings.

taea00 said:

At least she mentioned Wave. While it had a great idea, it didn't really seem to fit any one group, it didn't respond well, when you'd get many people using one thread finding anything was a nightmare.

Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

I'm not a huge google fan but it's nice to see a company that'll admit to it's mistakes and not skirt the issues or rationalize things. You can't honestly expect companies to be perfect (sry apple fanboys, it's true, lol j/k) but as long as do their best not to and own up to their mistakes when they make em then they're alright by me.

theruck said:

biggest mistake was to add advertisement into youtube videos. not from finance dept. point of view of course...

cardriverx said:

theruck, I am making some monies because of that, Id say it was a great idea.

limpangel limpangel said:

spyx said:

Wow i didnt know gmail was launched on April fools that interestng, but i have to agree that wave was ..well not coletely but a huge failure......

google needs to put it together tiht all this privacy stuff or apple will get the upper hand

Apple is no privacy saint either. Haven't you heard of the unremovable zombi cookie that plagues the iOS? [http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2010/09/rldguid-tracking-
ookies-in-safari-database-form.ars]

Gmail never really did it for me. I always considered the Yahoo! mail client more advanced (ex. e-mail preview and tabs) and easier to use.

But that doesn't matter anyway because for the last month or so I use Thunderbird with POP3 for all my Yahoo and Gmail accounts. It works great so far.

blimp01 said:

privacy issues are a big mistake lol

theruck said:

theruck, I am making some monies because of that, Id say it was a great idea.

great idea for whom? advertisements are evil in general. why would anybody want to look at them? you will end up watching your own videos to see others ads over your content hoping for 1 cent of earning. man go out to see some real life

gLitCh32 said:

I can agree that Wave was a huge mistake. I still have a hard time understanding exactly what it did!

sMILEY4ever said:

Launching gmail on April Fools day wasn't so weird. It's just another day.

princeton princeton said:

sMILEY4ever said:

Launching gmail on April Fools day wasn't so weird. It's just another day.

The also launched an ad called Toiler ISP on april first one year. google is known for their silly stunts.

Puiu Puiu said:

i like the idea of lunching stuff on 1st of April (joke or not) is a good idea. They get a lot of free publicity that way.

mkillor said:

Google makes mistakes? I don't believe it. But in all honesty who doesn't make mistakes. I love what google has done for technology. You go girl!

matrix86 matrix86 said:

gLitCh32 said:

I can agree that Wave was a huge mistake. I still have a hard time understanding exactly what it did!

You aren't alone. Even when you know what it was for, you still question what it was for, lol. But really it was for editing documents live with other wave users. And there was several other crap thrown in.

grvalderrama said:

That woman is beatiful, XD

frodough said:

ya 4/1 is probably the one day out of 365 of them which you should avoid launching a serious product. i mean i had to laugh a bit on this, it's like they could not have shot themselves any harder on the foot.

kevin1212 said:

grvalderrama said:

That woman is beatiful, XD

Thank you... i was waiting for someone to mention that. I do agree... her looks are more interesting than the article. She is very beautiful.

aj_the_kidd said:

kevin1212 said:

grvalderrama said:

That woman is beatiful, XD

Thank you... i was waiting for someone to mention that. I do agree... her looks are more interesting than the article. She is very beautiful.

I'd hit it.

AnonymousSurfer AnonymousSurfer said:

Hahaha I NEVER knew it was launched on April fools...

When I read the part on the screen here I thought it was referring to gmail being a mistake as itself, not the gmail april fools thing...

klepto12 klepto12, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This is crazy gmail came out on April fools lol. Shutting down any website without warning is crazy and will ultimately blow up in your face.

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

aj_the_kidd said:

kevin1212 said:

grvalderrama said:

That woman is beatiful, XD

Thank you... i was waiting for someone to mention that. I do agree... her looks are more interesting than the article. She is very beautiful.

I'd hit it.

Indeed.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Hahhahaa I laughed at gmail april's fool, at that time THAT kind of storage on an e-mail account was like a practical joke, but nice it sticked =P

grvalderrama said:

kevin1212 said:

grvalderrama said:

That woman is beatiful, XD

Thank you... i was waiting for someone to mention that. I do agree... her looks are more interesting than the article. She is very beautiful.

Someone's gotta say it. She's a fine woman, plus she works for Google... everything I'm looking for, lol. I wonder if she has facebook, xD

Guest said:

I actually scanned the comments in this article just because i knew people would comment on the lady's appearance and sure enough its the majority of the posts. Kinda lame

aj_the_kidd said:

Guest said:

I actually scanned the comments in this article just because i knew people would comment on the lady's appearance and sure enough its the majority of the posts. Kinda lame

I'll inform my parents that they failed

bam13 said:

oh come on, everyone makes mistakes, thatÂ's why they put erasers on pencils

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

TomSEA said:

She joined Google in 1999? How old was she then - 12 years old??

Hmm provided this observation have some truth (as I am taking it on Tom's words), then why on earth no one cried foul about this being a 'child labor' case? I mean that is what exactly so called NGO's from developed countries do in all the developing countries.

razzrap said:

still a google fan despite the mistakes =P it takes a strong company to admit mistakes publicly

Mydnight said:

I agree with a lot of what people have said, its good to see a company admit its shortcomings. Google is my fav

surbey said:

Loved the article; great find from Digg.

I gotta admit that I never realized Gmail was launched on April Fool's day. I wonder how no one realized that.

Acespaces Acespaces said:

It is funny how none of the mistakes are extremely business serious. They are just like release dates, and what they did with a site.

rizalp said:

Mydnight said:

I agree with a lot of what people have said, its good to see a company admit its shortcomings. Google is my fav

Sure. And they have LOTS of free service too. Many people use google products everyday, every hour, including me. Go Google go!

TwiztidSef said:

Good interview. I liked it. It makes sense for google to make the google tv off the android system. I hope that the recommendation system on google tv gets as advanced as they talk about.

grvalderrama said:

Guest said:

I actually scanned the comments in this article just because i knew people would comment on the lady's appearance and sure enough its the majority of the posts. Kinda lame

lol, do you thing that a great looking lady talks about google's mistakes is just a coincidence? Scan that over If I had a really important company and I wanted to point out a few mistakes of our own, I would send the most beautiful chick to do it... none, but girls, some of them, anyway, would really care enough my mistakes... It's just the perfect strategy, and probably works!

And by the way, she does not have facebook, xD

poertner_1274 poertner_1274, secroF laicepS topShceT, said:

Mistakes are what make people and companies better. Mistakes are the biggest way to learn things about products/issues/anything. It's unfortunate at times, but I'd say learning from your mistakes and moving forward is the hardest lesson in life. You would typically like to learn from others mistakes, but it doesn't always work that way.

That being said, these were only the top 3, I'm sure they have a list of quite a few more. And this asked a google employee. I bet if TS made a poll you would find many others.

xcelofjkl said:

She's cute. Lol. Although I like how they implement their products though.

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.