Google's orgiastic, eccentric acquisition of start-up PeakStream must scare the major players in the server processor and hardware universe. An ad broker has eaten a potentially super-valuable, industry-wide asset with no greater ambition than self-gratification in mind. As a result, high-end server applications could hobble …
A True Conundrum...
Hilariously over-the-top, yet scarily close to home!
It's not the sawdust but the wheelbarrows...
I think Ashlee hit the nail on the head in the article: Google didn't acquire PeakStream for their expertise in mult-core and multi-thread optimizations, but for the UNDERLYING skills that allowed PeakStream to develop their tools. Compilers, JIT compilers, high-performance RNG software - these same skills apply to Google's search parsers, result evaluators, load balancers, security systems, etc. Getting this kind of talent that already has several years of team experience and repurposing it to solve their problems shows, as Ashlee put it "how smart the company seems to be and how it will continue to outflank the likes of Yahoo! and Microsoft."
Google bought "wheelbarrows full of sawdust" not for the sawdust, but for the wheelbarrows. Not for the ability to get the hardware components to work better but to improve their similar complex search software.
OK, now that's obvious: so what's the problem here?
At present there is only one other serious company in this market niche: RapidMind. However, there may be other "not so serious" companies out there, including some in the Open Source universe that, while not as far along as PeakStream or RapidMind, will now have an opportunity to grow into the void caused by PeakStream's departure. Indeed, there may be MORE than two vendors in this space within another year - something that having two highly visible strong players tying up capital and IP might have prevented.
However, the REAL problem here is, as it always is these days, the IP "rail car" that the software "wheelbarrows" were sitting in - and that Google also got in the acquisition.
A far greater threat to the improvement of muti-core and multi-thread processing is the potential for "blocking" patents that prevent late-comers from using the best - or only possible - algorithms for optimizing the threading processes. If PeakStream has patented processes that are key to the use of the next two generations of processors efficently, Google can effectively use these to extort royalties out of anyone else that wants to actually develop these tools. A Jupiter-sized patent Troll sitting on the Google spider web. (And what do you bet that they use their own search engine like a spider to get the earliest "wiggle" of anyone that might be a possible "fly"?)
On the other hand, if IBM, AMD, Intel, SUN and Microsoft all looked at the company and passed on it (or at least didn't respond to a Google bid that quickly) there's a good bet that PeakStream did NOT have any earth-shaking IP to use as a bludgeon on competitors. I hope that is the case: if so, the field PeakStream left so hurridly is still ripe for picking. It's just that Google is off picking in another orchard...
Cornering the talent
MS did this years ago, and now Google is following their book. The talent pool is limited, and those who can corner it, have a natural monopoly.
Suitors and the IP train
I seriously doubt that AMD was ever a viable contender. They are reportedly very cash strapped. Intel seems dedicated to developing their own software in-house and probably figured that they are ahead of PeakStream. The same goes for IBM. HP has never struck me as the acquiring type of company and I don't know what to say about Sun.
As far as IP is concerned, who knows how much of the catalog PeakStream would show to a potential buyer. There's a lot of IP out there that's never been patented. My wife can tell you about that. I agree with Brett, Google bought PeakStream for the raw talent. Now they may be thinking ahead to when they really need multi-threaded support.
And Ashlee, I suspect it will be more like $8 a gallon. And Honda just figured out how not to make a hybrid.
Dillon, who wants a WRX but can't see paying for premium, so I'll settle for my 96 Civic and 33/28.
I forget the exact quote, or which famous economist said it, but the core idea is that if you are in a market with no competition, then there really is no such market. If there really is demand for this technology then competitors will arise to fill it.
Also, the analogy with oil is a false one. Oil is a non-renewable physical commodity with a relatively inflexible supply. Technological innovation is none of these things.
Uncharacteristic crap from Ashlee
So Google bought a company for the quality of its employees? Good for them, great idea.
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