Have you ever wondered what it takes to build a company such as Google? I have. Of course that’s what I do most of the time in my day-dreams, when I’m building castles in the air like Abunuwasi in the Abunuwasi Swahili tale back in day. I imagine a lot, and sometimes I think till I feel a headache coming from a distance and then I would stop. And maybe, just maybe, if I put half of what I daydream and think about, in action, then by now I would be having a skyscraper as tall as Burji Khalifa in Nairobi CBD.
But honestly, have you ever thought about it? Have you ever thought about what it really takes to build something like that?
Google is a multinational technology company with thousands of employees, and as of Dec last year, it had 98,771 employees — though most of these are only Whites and Asians with only a handful of African decent, which is a pity at this age — and located in Mountain View California. It was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while still students at Stanford University in California.
Of course it requires both sweat and blood, like literally. Sweat, as in the hard work required and the sacrifice you’ll require from each one of your employees; from the security guard at the main entrance to the receptionists at the front desk, from the accountant balancing the company’s accounts to the engineer behind the monitors writing codes, from you always worrying in your office to the shareholders waiting for their dividends at the end of the financial Year.
Blood gets spilled in the process, sometimes, though not necessarily. But we both know that not everyone is patient enough to follow due process. You’ll have to shut down competitors by all means, bribe or a bullet. Court cases like every other day, those you couldn’t sniffle down.
And then there are hackers; white and black hat hackers. The White ones would be there just trying to get your attention, trying to show you how good they are, probably better than your own coders. Indirectly, these guys are telling you they need a job at your company. You don’t ignore them. They come in handy when it comes to taking care of their blacksheep brothers.
Black hat hackers are real trouble. If you don’t watch out for them, you’ll soon run out of business. they’ll be infiltrating your system at their own free will, some just out to create havoc while some looking to “steal”.
But hackers are not your only concern, government agencies are another threat. They would always want a piece of the pie, they’ll want to own you and snoop at private data. Of course they’ll approach you with that terrorism lie, they’re following up on a lead on a potential terrorism attack and you, it’s part of your CSR. The authorities want to catch the terrorists before they perpetrate their heinous acts.
You are in dilemma. You don’t want innocent people dying, while you had a chance to stop it and you didn’t. When the public hear that, they’ll never forgive you, they’ll crucify you. But also, you help the authorities and your customers gets wind, is suicide for your company. You know your number one obligation is to your company and customers. The Constitution protects your company against such people and they know it, and that’s why they’re going to target you as an individual and compromise your employees by threatening them and blackmailing them with their personal lives.
Then there’s the money aspect, the most crucial part. You need money, plenty of it, especially in the begging at the startup stage. Someone said you need money to make money. Convincing investors to come aboard and give your business wings to fly is not going to be a walk in the park. You are going to be stood up a number of times. You are going to be chased out of people’s offices a number of times. You would be forced to play golf, a sport you loathe, just to catch up with some investor. It’s not going to be easy but you need money, right?
You need money to get your staff, best programmers in the market. You need accountants, and you need badass lawyers to help you intimidate those people who are keen on putting you down just out of malice, and to keep wayward employees in check. And to best advice you on how to handle blackmailers and all others who want to put their dirty fingers on food they never prepared. No one should eat where they never sowed. It’s unacceptable!
I have a dream. Just a dream (for now), and one day God willing want to have something like that — Google — that really matters. Can you imagine life without Google Search Engine? Of course there’s the struggling Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing, but no one really as good as Google, and that’s a fact.
I don’t know what it takes to build such company. And maybe if I had a sit down with entreprenuers like Jeff Bezos of Amazon or Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg — especially this guy. He had a couple of rough years with user security concerns — or the owners of Jumia, I may get close to understanding.