I’ve had several folks ask me what I think of Google Finance. There’s already a fair amount of good commentary out there on the topic (Bambi, TBAiT, Charlene, Matt, Publishing 2.0, Blodget, and others), so I’m going to answer this in a different way.
You see, I started at Yahoo! back in 1999 as an engineer working on Yahoo! Finance. It was one of the sites I used most often back then, so it was a privilege to get my hands on it and really contribute in a meaningful way. I spent roughly the next three years working with the good folks in our group, including Katie Stanton, who announced Google Finance a few days ago.
Katie was one of the best people we had in Yahoo! Finance. I was disappointed when she left Yahoo a few years back. I remember chatting with her a few times when she decided to go back to work. Trying to choose between Yahoo and Google, she asked for opinions.
How time flies…
Last year I teased her a few times about Google Finance. Of course, she denied that any such thing was in the works. Since I knew it was in the works, I wasn’t surprised when it finally came out. Nor was I surprised to see her affiliated with the product.
It clearly has a Yahoo! Finance feel in several areas but with a distinctly Google flavor to it. I have minor complaints about it, but I think it’s a good start aside from the fixed width home page.
So why does this make Jeremy sad?
It makes me sad because I end up thinking about how Yahoo! Finance has stagnated for a long time. It never really recovered from the pain of the dotcom crash. So many of my old Finance coworkers have either left the company or moved on to other groups (several moved into Search last year). Heck, I encouraged many of them to get out!
There was a lack of leadership and, even more importantly, a serious LACK OF VISION. It really disappointed me.
It makes me sad because virtually all of the new/innovative/cool features in Google Finance are things we talked about YEARS ago. Many of them I’d lobbied for repeatedly. Some were even prototyped.
* A ticker search that doesn’t suck.
* Charts with overlays for news events.
* Blog integration.
* Featuring discussions more prominently.
* RSS support.
Who’s gonna get “credit” for all that now?
I’m not gonna name names (virtually none of them are around anymore anyway), but there was a real lack of leadership in Finance for long time and it really sucked the life out of the group. Users noticed. Finance employees noticed. Other Yahoos noticed. We all knew it. And, frankly, I was glad to be out when I moved on (and the next time and the time after that).