Google is a great company. I should disclose that I worked there for 2 years. It has many, many faults, but even more numerous are its advantages and it truly does try to create some innovative and world changing products.

It can only do this because of the cash cow that is AdWords. A great idea that turned hundreds of millions of customers into tens of billions of dollars.

When Google started out, they just wanted to build the world’s greatest search engine and always said that the revenue would look after itself. No-one thought the AdWords system would work, but it did.

Inadvertently, this has resulted in the present day where lots of companies focus on every other metric apart from long term viability. They tell us how many users they have (Square) or how much revenue they have (Groupon). Even companies such as Facebook, currently unable to satisfactorily monetise their user base.

They all work on the presumption that it will all work out in the end. That if you can get as many users as you can, then there will work out a way to monetise them. Because this is what happened for Google.

It seems to me though that Google are the exception, not the rule. There are other exceptions, but in general there will not be a way to turn these customers into money. Look elsewhere in the search engine world at Yahoo or Bing, especially Bing, and the problems they are having.

Advertising is not a solution to all the issues that a company will face to sustain itself. Like many business plans, it may succeed but the vast majority don’t.

As customers, investors, interested parties, we should accept this. Google is the exception, not the rule.