Does recession make us stupid or more inventive?

Being rich doesn’t make you happy. In fact, in most walks of life, a surfeit of stuff isn’t good for you.

I once worked for a boss who said he liked the scarcity of cash brought about by recession. He reckoned it made everyone more inventive.

Of course, scarcity has never been a problem at Google.

In fact, Blogoscoped has just compiled a list of 47 Google products that could easily be described as under-exploited in commercial terms.

Many don’t make any money at all for the company (other than by driving traffic to its search engine, which would probably happen anyway). 

Depending on how you look at this list, it’s either an incredible compendium of opportunities, or testament to the fact that a surfeit of dollars can make you stupid. My old boss wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised.

But the times are a-changing at Google. Last summer, the company hired Patrick Pichette as chief financial officer. According to Silicon Alley Insider, Pichette has been seeking out and harvesting “low-hanging fruit”.

More revenue. Less cost. That’s the mantra. The company has even amended its notorious 20% rule. According to Insider, Google now insists that its engineers “work on things that will make money for the company and benefit shareholders”.

Remarkable eh?

Here on terra firma, beset by insane levels of cost cutting, the rest of us can only marvel.

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