Photo Source: Vox
The largest IT companies in the world are in a crisis of confidence. Not only from
The past year and a half have been difficult forGoogle (that is, Alphabet, of course, but more familiar in the old way), and the New Year holidays were marked by at least two high-profile publications on this topic. Editors gg I studied the materials and tells what is known about the crisis inside the “corporation of good”.
Good Corporation on the Warpath
In October 2018, 4,000 Google employeessigned a petition against cooperation with the Pentagon and the provision of development for military purposes, and 10 people quit due to surfaced information. The company was forced to refuse to participate in the JEDI project (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, that is, the "integrated defense infrastructure of the enterprise") and lose $ 10 billion in favor of its "cloud" competitors.
Also in 2019, Google is under pressureemployees and the public did not extend cooperation in another project with the Pentagon - Maven. Maven uses artificial intelligence to amplify drone strikes. Google has been working on developing machine learning algorithms that would help the Pentagon strengthen its oversight capabilities in general. The company tried to make excuses to employees that its part of the work was “non-violent” in nature and related only to video surveillance. But anyway, all such Pentagon projects are related to military operations or counteraction to rebels. According to Gizmodo, this is a contract for $ 9- $ 15 billion. Therefore, Google sought to protect the project in front of employees.
As a result, in addition to monetary losses and strainedrelations between the management and subordinates for Google, both of these stories were also marked by a PR-crisis, as the company had previously sought to build a socially oriented image.
In October 2018, Pichai confirmed that Google was working on a censored version of a search engine for China.
In 2010, the corporation left the Chinese market.due to censorship. The country's authorities demanded not only full access to user data and company infrastructure, but also full cooperation on their part to ensure that Chinese users see only content that meets government standards.
Former Google Foreign Relations ChapterRoss LaGunesse recalls how important it was for Google not to obey the regulator, who had tightened censorship all the time. In deciding on China, the corporation was guided by the principle of staying there for as long as it would do more good than harm. At some point, she was no longer able to comply with this principle and left. This was a historic event - for the first time in the world a non-state company refused something to the Chinese government.
But the billion-dollar Chinese market is too tastya piece for many, and after many years, Google did not leave the dream to come out again. Basically, according to LaGunessa, this thought haunted the new managers of the company, who no longer shared the values of veterans.
Photo Source: Engadged
But what is even more surprising for the "veterans"Google, so it is that secret projects appeared in the company. Dragonfly began in 2017 and only those who were involved knew about it. The first news about the censored search engine for the Celestial Empire was leaked to the media in August 2019. In the fall, 1000 company employees signed a public letter demanding to abandon Dragonfly. They were supported by organizations that fight for human rights. LaGuness was among those who tried to dissuade Google from returning to a country where human rights were violated. As a result, the project was abandoned. True, there was no particular desire on the part of the Chinese government to give it a go; negotiations were held at a very low level and finally ceased.
According to LaGunessa, the unit thatengaged in a cloud platform, also did not hide the existence of contracts with the government of Saudi Arabia. It even wanted to hire its own team to test projects for compliance with security principles and company policies. LaGunessa's tasks included monitoring human rights and UN requirements, and the company the farther, the more it departed from these norms, entering into interaction with dictatorial regimes. But the cherry on the cake for the former head of Google’s international cooperation was the opening in Beijing in 2017 of a center that worked on AI developments. He left his post.
Harrasment without punishment
Another protest against leadershipAlphabet dealt with sexual scandals and harassment in the workplace. In the fall of 2018, employees of the corporation staged a mining against the fact that people who were involved in scandals were not only not punished, but also left the company with a golden parachute. Among the defendants was the “father” of Android Andy Rubin. 20,000 people, or about 20% of the corporation's employees, joined the protest. They demanded to publish the results of the investigation. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai promised to implement them and implement a system that would allow reporting of harassment.
Instead, in April of this year, it became known thatpressure on two protest organizers - Claire Stapleton of YouTube and Meredith Whittaker of Google Open Research. In the summer, both employees left Alphabet. But the employees of the corporation did not abandon attempts to unite in order to oppose the management of the company in those cases when they did not agree with it.
In mid-November 2019, Alphabet fired one ofemployees and two others were suspended from work on charges of improper handling of personal data of colleagues. According to Bloomberg, Google said it fired an employee for divulging names and personal data in the media. One of the suspects searched and distributed confidential documents outside of his work, while the other tracked individual calendars of employees working on community platforms. The publication reports that they were all activists who fought for their rights on Google. In another, earlier investigation by Bloomberg, the fired person discovered Google’s secret development, a browser extension that would allow organizers to find mass action inside the company. For example, if someone creates an event on the calendar for more than 10 rooms or 100 participants. Google has denied that the purpose of developing the tool was such. They say that they created it to teach employees not to invite a huge number of people to meetings unnecessarily.
Reporters also found that the company overFor several months, she developed a tool to search for posts that caused discontent among employees and to moderate the company's internal forums. According to some Google users, the tool already appeared on their computers in October this year.
The end of free thought
Publications at Bloomberg, CNN, and the New York Timesfocus on the fact that Google is pulling a string of confrontation between employees and management. Previously, the company encouraged employees to express their desire for company projects and policies at special meetings. But it seems that this is coming to an end. On the eve of 2020, CNBC released material entitled “Google Veterans: The Company Becomes Unrecognizable,” in which journalists exposed even more problems within the corporation based on interviews with current and former employees.
In 2019, in the culture of the corporationbig changes, and the departure of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, which the two former tops did not really explain, became a sign of these changes, the publication says. Before leaving, both recognized confidence issues, which are difficult to scale to 100,000 employees. Earlier this was pointed out by the former HR director Lazlo Bok, according to him, the company has changed so much that not all current employees know what it was before. Martin Casado, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, believes that the brain drain from Google is now enormous. A few other interlocutors of the publication said that the reason for the dismissal from Google in recent years is becoming increasingly bureaucracy. Previously, the corporation was famous for the opportunity to discuss problems with management, this is no longer there. Some employees claim that the company began to chase the number of employees, therefore rather weak participants appeared in the teams.
The triumph of intolerance
Photo Source: National Files
In a publication on Medium LaGunesse leads yetseveral cases of insults and harassment in the workplace, when senior colleagues raised their voices and brought the younger ones to tears, humiliated each other because of race, etc. The former manager tried to convey the problem to HR, but it turned out that the department was somewhat abolished and some of the tasks were transferred, in his opinion, to insufficiently competent specialists. LaGuness claims to have left the company in support of national minorities, the LGBT community and human rights in general. In his opinion, the problem began to grow due to the fact that Larry Page and Sergey Brin moved away from the leadership and problems of the corporation, leaving everything in the care of new top managers.
The crisis of trust and transparency is recognized by the CEO himselfAlphabet Like the founding fathers, Pichai associates it with “growth problems.” True, he himself spoke out about this in the framework of commenting on yet another crisis moment for Google. When the company hired a former White House employee, Miles Taylor, who officially supported the ban on Muslim entry and the tightening of visa requirements. And it stirred up another wave of indignation at Google.