Google does it again

Today: the latest example of why businesses don't trust Google's business services, Progress Software discloses a new vulnerability in MOVEit, and the quote of the week.

Google does it again
Photo by Rajeshwar Bachu / Unsplash

Welcome to Runtime! Today: the latest example of why businesses don't trust Google's business services, Progress Software discloses a new vulnerability in MOVEit, and the quote of the week.

Domain expertise

The process of registering and selling website domain names is not the sexiest business in tech. But the right domain name is the foundation for any business that wants to exist in the 21st century, and this week Google once again made enterprise tech wonder why they should build anything around its services.

In what Andrew Allemann, the dean of domains, called "a surprise," Google sold its Google Domains business to Squarespace Thursday for $180 million. It's just the most recent example of the "Killed By Google" mentality that has plagued the cloud company for years, where it suddenly pulls the plug on a business service that customers relied upon.

  • In classic fashion, Google launched a domain registration business almost exactly ten years ago as "an experiment," and considered the service a beta product for nearly eight years.
  • It formally emerged from beta status last year with this all-timer pull quote in its blog post: "Millions of customers trust Google Domains with their online home."
  • Google became the fifth largest provider of .com website addresses during that decade, according to Allemann, with about 10 million domains (including this one) under its management.

Squarespace, which appears to exist primarily as a cash machine for the podcast industry, is also a domain registrar but charges far more than Google for the privilege.

  • Unlike other registrars, Google Domains also offered privacy services and other important features for free.
  • Squarespace said it would honor Google Domains' pricing plans for 12 months after the deal closes, but guess what's going to happen on Day 366.
  • Companies that bought Google Workspace accounts along with their domains (such as this one) will also now become "exclusive" customers of Squarespace's for three years and rely on them, not Google, for support.

It has been very obvious for a very long time that there are lots of people in upper management roles at Google who simply don't understand that businesses who pay to use tech services have different expectations than regular people who type things into a search box.

  • The vast majority of Google's user-facing services are free, and when you offer products for free you don't have to worry about nurturing customer relationships.
  • However, Google management also appears to want to be in the enterprise service provider business, spending billions of dollars to build out infrastructure and headcount for Google Cloud.
  • Google's determination to kill products once they've lost interest or momentum — which maybe makes sense from an engineering perspective — is a weight around the neck of every Google salesperson trying to convince companies to rely on it as a committed partner.
  • And one thing that's impossible to grasp is that Google obviously understands that it can't treat its advertisers this way; why does it fall down so often when working with other types of customers?

Google Domains was probably not a huge business for the company, but it was a symbolic one, a business that people who are serious about building businesses on the internet feel very strongly about.

  • Two years ago Google tried to show those people that it was serious about making long-term commitments to foundational cloud services, but judging by chatter on social media and web forums Friday, nobody believes them anymore.
  • The suggestion that Amazon should spin off AWS always comes up a couple of times a year, but that conversation might be about the wrong company.
  • If Google Cloud wants to be a serious enterprise tech player, maybe Alphabet/Google should spin it off and let it become an independent service provider that actually cares about business customers.

Otherwise, from now on this has to be the first question posed by anyone talking to Google about building a business around its technology:

  • What is your long-term plan for supporting this service?

Runtime ransomware redux

At this rate the Clop ransomware hacking story is going to become a regular Runtime feature.

On Friday, the state of Oregon confirmed that the Clop folks most likely stole my driver's license info last week, and Progress Software discovered a new vulnerability in its MOVEit file-transfer software. At this point the company is literally advising customers to disconnect the software from the internet, and maybe we all should disconnect from the internet until we get a handle on what's going on.

Progress describes MOVEit as providing "secure collaboration and automated file transfers of sensitive data and advanced workflow automation capabilities without the need for scripting," and that copy will probably need to be updated. While it's still not clear how much data has actually been stolen, the hackers likely had access to secure government and corporate data transfers for months, if not longer, and the list of victims is likely to grow.

Please freeze your credit.

Quote of the week

"If this is the last invention of humankind, then all bets are off." — Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, talking to Wired about generative AI and the prospect of "superintelligence" and taking it to a freaky place.

The Runtime roundup

I completely missed that Stack Overflow stopped asking respondents to its developer survey for gender and race information, and kudos to Wired for pointing out that's likely because the numbers would have been extremely one-sided.

Elementl CEO Pete Hunt laid out the company's "master plan" for improving its data-orchestration platform, a month after raising $33 million in new funding.

Thanks for reading — see you Tuesday!

Correction: An earlier version of this newsletter misspelled the last name of Domain Name Wire's Andrew Allemann.

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