How Google buys companies

Wesley Chan, director and lead voice strategist for Google, today told a bunch of hopeful entrepreneurs how to persuade Google to buy their companies. The answer seems to be to really annoy the company’s top brass.

Apparently, Chan himself used this technique when trying to persuade Larry Page to incorporate a pop-up blocker into the Google toolbar by buying Urchin.

“Back in 2002, I argued for two and a half months that we should put it in, but Larry kept saying that nobody would want it,” he says. “So then we kidnapped Larry’s computer one day. He said to me, ‘The pop-ups have stopped – what happened?’ So I told him, and he said, ‘Yeah, maybe we should release that to the world.’ So I would say the first thing is to have a healthy disregard for those who say no, or that it won’t work.”

And it was annoying Chan himself that brought Google Voice to the world. “I was sick of getting calls at 2.00 on a Saturday night, so I had more than one type of business card. If you were a salesperson, you’d get a card with fake numbers on there,” he confessed.

Then he came across Grand Central’s telephony system, and suddenly the salespeople were finding that they persona non grata. “I said, ‘Holy cow, this is changing my life.’ Now I have one business card, and not everyone gets through to me. So I said, ‘Why don’t we go and buy it?’ I took them out for a burger, bought them loads of milkshakes, and they agreed to do the sale.” The system was launched as Google Voice in March this year.

His other tips are to “keep a maniacal focus on your end user, and all else will follow” – and “have fun in everything you do”.

It probably also helps to rehearse for one’s pitch by listening to speeded up records. Chan speaks really, really fast.