I’ve always been a bit of a Google bear. Search is clearly an amazing business and I see plenty of short term moats.
The business is generally great when it turns into a verb and at this point google is a verb. So when I say I stopped googling, I mean I stopped using Google, but still used search engines.
What I Learned When I Stopped Googling
Long story short, Google still is far superior to it’s competitors.
Here’s an example of what I saw:
Part of this is me being a dumby (a. I spelled Swensen wrong and b. I used “fund” instead of portfolio). Yet, Google gave me what I needed in the 2nd and 3rd results, while DuckDuckGo didn’t until the fifth. Not great, but not the end of the world.
Here is another, more esoteric example:
Neither of these are really what I was looking for (once again – that might be on me for poorly wording my searches or being a esoteric dork). Google was a little closer, with their second link the only link out of both that sort of helped.
I have a ton of other examples where Google and its competitors gave similar results, especially on the simple searches. Google is just better than the rest of its competition though. I do think it is closer than most people act like it is, but why would anyone switch for a worse user experience? People need a good reason to switch and right now, we don’t have anything close.
Why I Can’t Stop Being a Bear but Can’t Stop Googling
I’ll be going back to Google, yet I won’t be changing my mild bearish case on Google. I don’t see a great moat beyond a strong brand. Switching costs are very low. Competition is going to keep coming. It’s a recipe for chaos if a new form of search ever comes. I can’t blame anyone who is long Google because it is hard to argue against the historical results, but I do think that trying other search engines is a fun exercise for anyone long Google.