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Relax Bill, It's Google's Turn as the Villain

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For years, Silicon Valley hungered for a company mighty enough to best Microsoft. Now it has one such contender: the phenomenally successful Google.

But instead of embracing Google as one of their own, many in Silicon Valley are skittish about its size and power. They fret that the very strengths that made Google a search-engine phenomenon are distancing it from the entrepreneurial culture that produced it - and even transforming it into a threat.

A year after the company went public, those inside Google are learning the hard way what it means to be the top dog inside a culture accustomed to pulling for the underdog. And they are facing a hometown crowd that generally rebels against anything that smacks of corporate behavior.

Nowadays, when venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and technologists gather in Silicon Valley, they often find themselves grousing about Google, complaining about everything from a hoarding of top engineers to its treatment of partners and potential partners. The word arrogant is frequently used.

The news last week that Google plans to sell an additional 14 million shares of stock, adding $4 billion to its current cash reserves of $3 billion, will only provide more reasons to gripe.

"I've definitely been picking up on the resentment," said Max Levchin, a co-founder of PayPal, the online payment service now owned by eBay.

It was not that long ago that Google reigned here as the upstart computer company that could do no wrong. Now some working in the technology field are starting to draw comparisons between Google and Microsoft, the company Silicon Valley most loves to hate.

Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, sees similarities between Google and his own company. This spring, in an interview with Fortune, Gates said that Google was "more like us than anyone else we have ever competed with."

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