EE204: Business Management for
Electrical Engineers and Computer Scientists



  1. What Is Strategy? (HBS course materials)
  2. Google, Inc. (HBS course materials)
  3. Article on Google's 2011 Q4 earnings

Case Summary

Describes Google's history, business model, governance structure, corporate culture, and processes for managing innovation. Reviews Google's recent strategic initiatives and the threats they pose to Yahoo, Microsoft, and others. Asks what Google should do next. One option is to stay focused on the company's core competence, i.e., developing superior search solutions and monetizing them through targeted advertising. Another option is to branch into new arenas, for example, build Google into a portal like Yahoo or MSN; extend Google's role in e-commerce beyond search, to encompass a more active role as an intermediary (like eBay) facilitating transactions; or challenge Microsoft's position on the PC desktop by developing software to compete with Office and Windows.

Discussion Questions

  1. What business is Google in?
  2. Using the framework in the Michael Porter article, what strategy is Google using? Variety-based, need-based, or access-based? Or something else?
  3. Does Google's set of unique activities fit its strategy? Consider company culture, organization, revenue models, and R&D philosophy.
  4. Has Google decided that there are things they won't do? Has this helped them to become stronger as a competitor?
  5. Who does Google see as competition, and how has Google responded?
  6. What is your assessment of Google's recent (2011 Q4) earnings miss?
  7. Do you recommend any strategic changes for Google? What should Google do next?

SCPD Students

See the SCPD Resource Page for general information on assignment submission, team building, expectations, and getting help. See the SCPD Grading Page for evaluation procedures for daily written assignments.

Written work should be submitted using SCPD Homework Processing procedures.

All times listed below are PDT (California time).

  1. Complete the assigned readings and submit answers to the Discussion Questions in Writeup 1 (1 page) by 9am Thursday 4/5/12.
  2. The videotaped class meeting should be available via SCPD by 2pm, Thursday 4/5/2012.
  3. Watch the video of the class meeting and meet with your team to discuss.
  4. Submit Writeup 2 (1-2 pages) by 9am Tuesday 4/10/2012. This writeup should include the following:
    • A summary of the main points of the class discussion
    • Any points from the discussion that you found particularly enlightening or disagreed with
    • A discussion of how your initial responses did or did not align with the direction of the class discussion
    • A revised go-forward strategy for Google