This has been a sad week for the high tech industry and it's only Thursday.
First, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has announced an immediate leave of absence until June while he recovers from a mysterious "hormonal imbalance" ailment that has left him clearly gaunt and sickly looking. Speculation about what's really going on with him has run rampant among the techno-blogosphere (as I like to call it).
It can't be good. Jobs had a bout with pancreatic cancer a few years ago and beat it. Let's hope it hasn't returned and that whatever is ailing him will truly be gone and healed by summer.
From a business standpoint, Jobs' on and off again tenure with Apple since co-founding the company back in the 70's almost exactly mirrors the times of Apple's greatest successes. Steve Jobs IS Apple and one has to wonder what will become of Apple without him whether it's temporary or permanent.
Cautionary tale: it's dangerous for a company and its leader to be one in the same branding. A strong company can go on for hundreds of years. The strongest person cannot. Most start-ups begin with just one person who gets that first great idea. My advice is as you add-on employee #2 - #2000, etc let your growing company have its own identity.
And then there's Google.
Outside tech circles and financial watchers, the average bear probably couldn't even tell you the names of Google's original founders (Larry Page and Sergey Brin) or its current CEO (Eric Schmidt). What we all know is Google is not just another search engine. It launches new products and apps faster than Simon Cowell rips through American Idol contestants.
Not so fast.
This crummy economy is apparantly hitting Google too now. Google hasn't stopped hiring people altogether. But let's just say the recruiters are no longer on roller skates. In fact, the company announced this week that it's laying off 100 of its hiring staff.
This news comes with quiet announcements of killing, downsizing or putting certain products on hold indefinitely. Products on death watch include: Google Video, Dodgeball (Google's Twitter knock-off), Google Mashup, and Jaiku (another Twitter-like knock-off).,
Another sign of the times that Google is feeling the economic pain comes from my boots on the ground in Austin, TX. Thank you, Zelda Cook, for sending me this link from the Austin American-Statesmen announcing the quiet closure of Google's new Austin offices. Doors opened less than six months ago. The staff of 20 engineers will be offered positions at other locations.
If nothing else, Google is an exciting, always interesting idea factory. The trouble is they launch just about every idea they get. In business, that can be dangerous.
Cautionary tale for start-ups: Roll-out your business somewhat slower than your brain trust works. Have a corporate mission and keep it simple adding on new products conservatively and judiciously.