A LOT has happened this year.

In the Philippines, the country has lost many of its taipans or dragons in the business. Metrobank’s George Ty passed away late of November 2018, SM’s Henry Sy early this year and JG Summit’s John Gokongwei and PAL Holdings’ Lucio “Bong” Tan Jr. in November.

This year, Jack Ma of China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba retired from his work so did Jon Ive, the designer of Apple iPhones, iPod and other iconic devices. Most recently, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founders of Google, announced they are stepping down.

Google has been one of the most visible tech companies in the last 20 years, and the two founders were instrumental to put their mark on it.

Google is famous for its search engines, YouTube, Gmail, Android and a host of other applications. The two founders were instrumental in creating open transparency that prevailed in the company during the early years.

Google was famous for giving free food, as well as allowing their engineers up to 20 percent of their time to pursue their own interests and research. Google is well known for its motto, “Don’t be evil.” It famously exited China when it did not allow censorship on its search results.

Founders are normally famous for creating the cultures of the company they started.

Bill Gates was central to create the geekiness of Microsoft, and the insistence of concentration to create excellent work. During the 1990s, when we visited the Microsoft headquarters, we saw that all programmers were given one room for themselves which they could lock so could work without being interrupted. Thus, reflecting what Bill Gates treasure is.

However, when you visit Facebook or Google, you will find one big open space, in which developers can easily talk to and disturb each other. According to this other culture, it‘s more important to communicate than “concentrate.”

Great minds

Steve Jobs was instrumental in creating the culture of perfection and design in Apple. Bill Hewlett and David Packard were famous for creating product quality in HP, while Jeff Bezos was famous for creating a customer-centric mission in Amazon.

Larry Ellison of Oracle was famous for hard sale techniques, while Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook was famous for his concentration on engineering and coding.

But when founders leave, things change.

In the last few years, Microsoft has had more salescentric culture under Steve Ballmer’s leadership. This then shifted to a more engineering focus under its chief executive officer (CEO) Satya Nadella. We see Google become more corporatecentric and less open soon.

Incidentally, what is worth mentioning is that two of the world’s great tech companies, Microsoft and Google under Sundar Pichai, are now under Indian-born and Indian-educated CEOs. This is a testament to Indian engineering and business ascendance in the technology world.

Whatever the culture, what is most important is the company’s ability to adapt to changing times. Any company that fails to adapt, like the dinosaur, can go south very quickly and fail. Japanese companies want to create a strategy to allow them to survive and thrive in the next 100 or 200 years, but in these fast-moving times, nobody even knows what will happen in just five years.