I thought this was a great quote by Esther Dyson:
“Google is blind evolution. They have this … users-in-charge, bubble-up philosophy. Their employees can come up with ideas. There’s this kind of Darwinian internal selection process. … They have a very clear vision; they’re not quite north to the North Pole. They’re going west, they’re going forward but they’re blind evolution; they don’t really see where they’re going. Neither do we … Yahoo, on the other hand, is intelligent design. They have the vision of what they’re trying to build … . Two very, very different models. The other thing that’s really different is Google sees communication as a medium for the distribution of information. … whereas Yahoo, they see information as a medium of communication among people. They get people. They get communities and individuals in a way that Google really doesn’t. Google is blindingly clever. … You have very, very different models of the world. I like them both, and think they will both persist.”
This is a little more eloquent than my “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” description of Google’s strategy.