How Google Monopoly Will Help Us Improve TheGoodData

When a company like Google does not have competition, it has no incentive to be the best in the market anymore. A Google monopoly doesn’t need to put all its efforts on satisfying its users and clients. It can focus on maximising its revenue and profit.

google monopoly

Image from CreativeBloq

We have recently suffered the downside of this monopoly. One month ago our Chrome extension was taken down from Google’s Chrome Web Store as we informed in our collaboration platform. It was done in an obscure and unfair way. We never received an email warning about Google’s decision and there was no direct way to get an explanation for their decision.

Google’s monopoly does not need to spend money on people answering emails from developers. It just needs to set up some algorithms that decide which extensions to allow or block. Ours was blocked.

Since we didn’t know the reason and didn’t have the opportunity to speak to any representative, we have released a new extension with many under the hood changes in the hopes that one of them had an impact in the algorithm that had taken us out. We succeeded, since our extension is again live. Or not, since we know about other extensions like disconnect.me that was also taken down and readmitted with no change on their code.

The short term implication on TheGoodData has been the drop in users after being out of the market for almost a month. The most relevant effect on our tactics has been that one of the tweaks that we have done to the extension was taking out the code that allowed us to anonymously sell some browsing data to a data broker.

This second effect leads to a more strategic implication. It makes us rethink the whole commercial and financial approach. In some way, Google’s monopolistic practices are forcing us to be more innovative.

We already had several commercial actions in the pipeline, the 2 most important ones being the following:

  1. a revision of our home page in order to make our story easier to understand. You can have a look at the draft wireframe here
  2. building up “TheEvilData” landing and infographics showing you the list of trackers and websites that are worst in class based on our users’ browsing data
  3. drawing how advertisers and data brokers think we are based on the browsing data that we collect

Google hurdles have made us think about these other actions (linked to the corresponding github issue):

  1. building a firefox extension
  2. making the service more engaging by letting users vote for the projects they want to fund. This will probably make us stop working with Zidisha, since they don’t have an API and the breadth of projects is a little more limited than others like justgiving, ammando or globalgiving
  3. looking for sponsors that want to donate some money for the data users have browsed, in a similar way that Charity Miles is sponsored by companies that rewards miles run by their supporters. This will be a temporary solution until we gain enough volume to deal directly with data buyers without putting the extension at risk of being banned again.

Until we find some companies or organisations that  want to sponsor users data there will be some private sponsors that will donate the following amounts:

  • 1 USD cent per query made by our users
  • 1 USD cent per 100 sites visited by our users

What do you think about those actions? Should we do anything else? We would be glad to get your ideas!