Saturday, April 22, 2017

How Google eats a business whole

From The Outline

Google’s Featured Snippets are not only often wrong, they’re also damaging to small businesses that depend on search traffic. launched in 2008 because Brian Warner, a former finance major working at a digital media company, wondered what Larry David was worth.

"Honestly, I wanted to know how much money Larry David had," Warner said. "I think Curb Your Enthusiasm had just come back, and I was like, 'God, he must have made so much money from Seinfeld.' I Googled something like 'Larry David net worth' and the results were garbage."

According to, Larry David is now worth $400 million. Warner acknowledges that it’s an inexact science, but he and his employees don’t simply conjure their numbers. They look at real estate transactions, news reports of large purchases and salaries, and sometimes even correspond with the celebrity or their reps. Floyd Mayweather, whose net worth Warner estimates is perhaps the most-Googled due to his infamous spending habits, has personally sent the site screenshots accounting for his assets...

This line of questioning — how much celebrities are worth — is popular enough that Warner was able to quit his day job in 2012 to focus solely on the site. At its height, he said it had a 12-person staff.

Then Google happened.

For most of its history, Google was like a librarian. You asked a question, and it guided you to the section of the web where you might find the answer.

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