[LINK] Google Don't Be Evil

thoughtmaybe.com community at thoughtmaybe.com
Thu Aug 12 12:18:44 AEST 2010


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Roger Clarke" <Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au>

> At 14:59 +1000 11/8/10, thoughtmaybe.com wrote:
>>Google loves to repeatedly state that it's motto, philosophy or
>>'guideline' is "Don't Be Evil" in some way or another ...
>>Surely it would be fair to say that the Google motto *is* "Don't Be
>>Evil" since they repeatedly say so themselves?
> Acccording to the Macquarie, a motto is a 'maxim adopted ...'.
> Where's the evidence that the corporation has in a meaningful sense
> adopted it?
> You reckon you've seen evidence;  but all I see is naive journos
> parroting it for them, not Google making commitments to it.

Well I don't know about 'meaningfully adopted', but it has certainly been
parroted in some way or another, by the founders/CEO/a few executives
themselves every now and then.

For example, if you take a shareholder letter by founder Sergey Brin from
2004 to be making some kind of commitment to it:

"Don't be evil. We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better
served-as shareholders and in all other ways-by a company that does good
things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains. This is an
important aspect of our culture and is broadly shared within the company..."

CEO, Schmidt apparently has even referred to 'Don't be evil' as some kind of
'cultural rule':

"'Don't be evil' is misunderstood. We don't have an evil meter...the rule
allows for conversation. I thought when I joined the company this was
crap...it must be a joke. I was sitting in a room in first six months
...talking about some advertising...and someone said that it is evil. It
stopped the product. It's a cultural rule, a way of forcing the conversation
especially in areas that are ambiguous." Haha.

Could Schmidt saying "We don't have an evil meter" be an attempt to back
away from comments he made during an interview pertaining to censorship in
China? If I remember correctly, he said something like "We did an evil scale
and decided that censoring in China was better than not being there at

Actually, I found a link for it:

Then there's a vid I was talking about of Marrisa Mayer, the Goog Vice 
President of Search etc, giving a similar account to Sergey Brin during an 
interview at about 17 mins 40 sec into this:

"Our company motto, if we have one, I would say is: Don't Be Evil. It's
actually a good story..." etc etc

But yes, I agree with you, journos do most of the parroting.. I suppose
because the company gives them something to work with though?

> As mentioned, there is a statement on the site about "our informal
> corporate motto" - and the effect of the key word 'informal' is to
> qualify the statement out of existence.
> In any case, even if it were a motto adopted in some meaningful
> manner, what assurance would it provide?

Well, nothing and as I said, I don't think a motto/the vast majority of any
corporate anything, no matter how "official" it is can ever provide any
meaningful assurance or accountability etc. But isn't that the point? You
can have a business motto/creed/philosophy of whatever you want and it will
never really mean anything.

That doesn't mean that it doesn't exist though. Or does the falsehood rest
with the fact that it's an "unofficial motto" and not a "real" one?

Kind regards,

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