When you've been one of the world's fastest growing companies for almost 20 years, at some point you will start to disappoint your shareholders. Step forward Google, which yesterday posted first quarter revenues of $15.42bn. Year-on-year, that's still an increase of 19% - but it was lower than the $15.52bn analysts had been expecting. Gasp. As a result, shares dropped 3.15% in after hours trading.
Profits were, admittedly, less impressive: they grew by a mere 2.9% to $3.45bn.
But Google being the internet's biggest ad company, investors were keenest to see what had been going on under its bonnet: while the number of paid clicks rose by just over a quarter year on year, cost per click was down 9%. It still forms 90% of revenue - but shareholders were clearly worried.
The rest of its revenue comes from a category helpfully named 'other', which includes sales of hardware like Chromecast, and the cut it takes when it sells apps or songs or videos in its Play store. Revenues from those rose by $500m to $1.55bn during the quarter.
This was also investors' chance to make their approval or disapproval known of Google's new strategy of acquiring absolutely everything in the world, ever. Significant acquisitions over the past few months have included drone maker Titan Aerospace (earlier this week), plus the $3.2bn it spent on 'home connected devices' maker Nest. It is also testing out driverless cars, wearable tech and military robots.
Is it trying to create a robot army bent on conquering the earth and enslaving humanity? German newspaper baron Matthias Döpfner, owner of Bild, Germany's biggest selling newspaper, is worried. Yesterday he published an open letter accusing the company of building a digital 'superstate', saying the fact that it penalises competitors in its search rankings suggests its motto is less 'don't be evil' and more 'if you don't want us to finish you off, you better pay'.
MT, for one, welcomes its new robot overlords...