Googleopoly

OK, it’s finally happened, the EU today have officially declared Google a monopoly. As Google themselves note, there are plenty of popular websites on the web. And companies are making a lot of money on the Internet.

Any economist would say that you typically do not see a ton of innovation, new entrants or investment in sectors where competition is stagnating — or dominated by one player. Yet that is exactly what’s happening in our world. Zalando, the German shopping site, went public in 2014 in one of Europe’s biggest-ever tech IPOs. Companies like Facebook, Pinterest and Amazon have been investing in their own search services and search engines like Quixey, DuckDuckGo and Qwant have attracted new funding. We’re seeing innovation in voice search and the rise of search assistants — with even more to come.

That said, Google has been a monopoly on the Internet for the last 15 years. So two questions come to my mind. Firstly, why has the EU decided to charge Google on anti-trust now and not 15 years ago? Secondly, is Google’s monopoly about to end?

To me, the EU itself is absurd let alone these charges today but there’s no denying one thing; Google is a great thing (and a even greater business!)

Shopify Going Public

One of the most popular hosted ecommerce platforms (arguably the most popular) is going public. Shopify has just released it’s SEC filing and it’s worth having a look at; especially if your business runs on the platform or you’re developing your own ecommerce software.  An interesting note in particular:

We incurred net losses of $1.2 million in 2012, $4.8 million in 2013 and $22.3 million in 2014. We also incurred net losses of $6.4 million and $4.5 million in the three months ended March 31, 2014 and 2015, respectively. At March 31, 2015, we had an accumulated deficit of $33.6 million. These losses and accumulated deficit are a result of the substantial investments we made to grow our business and we expect to make significant expenditures to expand our business in the future.

So despite being in software and having thousands of customers – over 10,000 according to the company themselves – they’re still not making money. How does this make one feel running a business on the platform? Well, somewhat nervous I guess. Remember when Magento decided to abandon hosted stores and recommend switching to BigCommerce? The same could happen again and if you have a lot of code and SKU’s, it could be a massive headache having to re-platform.

It will also be interesting to see how being public changes the company’s philosophy as it’s built it’s business on supporting small merchants. Typically in ecommerce and in actual fact, all software, the real money is made in big, complex, enterprise accounts and so it could be tempting for them to go after this space.

Nevertheless, Shopify should be congratulated as they’ve really opened up ecommerce to thousands of people and created a fantastic ecosystem in a similar vein to WordPress in the blogging space. As a merchant, you have to start somewhere – be that Ebay, Amazon or indeed an entry level hosted service and Shopify is the best out there.

Do you use Shopify? What do you think of this move?