Google Contributor: A Look Back at a Prediction

Saturday, April 29, 2017

I think it's important for a grown man to admit when he was wrong.

A while ago, I stood up and defiantly predicted the demise of a new Google service. It would be patently unfair of me not to revisit my analysis, now that two years have passed.

Let's dive into the details.

Google launched Google Contributor on November 20, 2014. The program's goals were laudable. Contributor was intended to help independent websites monetize their traffic without the use of ads.

Two months later, I heard about Google's efforts and was intrigued. I even published an economic analysis of the service's pricing model.

My arguments were bold and I took an unwavering stance. My second paragraph set the stage with the following line "Yes, [Google] Contributor will be canceled too. Just wait."

And then I did just that. I waited. Betting against the titan of tech was dangerous. If I were wrong, I'd look foolish and my credibility would be called into question. It's not as if a public commentator can be wrong on an important point, but still trusted for economic advice.

Well, here we stand a bit more than two years after my article was published, and I'm man enough to admit that I've grown a lot in the past two years. I've analyzed more companies, I've written more essays, and I've become a better person.

Nevertheless, I have an admission to make: I was right.

You read that correctly. I was right. Are you really surprised?

Though Google has yet to publish a detailed analysis of what went wrong, it is clear that the program wasn't the success that had been intended by its creators.

According to Wikipedia, by the end of 2016 the program had stopped accepting new registrations. Even the site in question provided little in the way of information. It merely notes that the program is being retooled, and that visitors should expect an update "in early 2017." Alas, that time seems to have passed and the future of this program remains uncertain.

Who could have predicted this?

Who indeed?

Google - if you're reading this - I could have saved you a bunch of manpower, money and heartache. All you had to do was ask for my opinion.

Everyone else - if you don't have as much money as Google, it might make sense to contact me before launching your products.