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« An Open Letter to Google | Main | Sam Maloof »

Jan 28, 2006

Comments

viinnie mirchandani

Jeff, I am not defending China or its human rights record. But politicians around the world demand concessions of foreign corporations before they let them operate in their countries (ask your own sales people around the world). Those demands are not in their consumer/citizens best interests - and many times violate rights of US employees. For example, US corporations who send employees to Saudi Arabia have to make their employees accept religious and other restrictions the ACLU would go ape over. These are sovereign countries and we have to accept their restrictions. If we are going to savage Google, lets savage every US and European MNC because they are making some compromise or another in a lot of countries around the world.

The good news is in most countries the average citizen is becoming far more savvy about reality because if not by internet, ease of global travel is allowing them to know their politicans are playing games about.

But politicians will be politicians the world around (yes even our dear ones). As business people and individuals we have always learned to give them a wide berth. Let them worry about their power games. Let us focus on family and money and values. You know what - history shows the politicians eventually come around to the consumer and individual point of view - and even claim credit for it.

jeff

The reason why you don't see that much of a ruckus about Yahoo! and MSN making these concessions is that we know to expect it from them. Google, on the other hand, has been busy telling the world that they are different from everyone that preceded them, whether it be their subsidized hybrid cars for employees or any of the social activist causes they are involved with. What the China Syndrome demonstrates is that Google is just like everyone else and the "don't be evil" mantra is bullshit. Hey, they are the ones that made this stuff up, not me.

Their brand has taken a significant hit with this episode, and we're about to find out if there is a vicious downside to Von Hippel, or if the tech industry as a whole really is pretty thin when it comes to doing what is right and good versus doing something for money.

viinnie mirchandani

Jeff, all the more reason to un-hype Google and other wbe 2.0 plays...to me Google is a nice tool on m desktop...I am not about let a young compnay like that drive my views on good and evil and foreign policy or human rights.

What I take away from this incident is I do not trust politicans and leaders no matter what their color, party or persuasion. I see Indian politicans parade to Infosys' nice campus in Banaglore to be photographed but do nothing when Infosys pleads them for better infrastructure. They are the same the world over - they have their own agendas and use and abuse Google and others.

jeff

agree.

To be really honest, I feel uncomfortable having this debate because I don't subscribe to the notion of social activism through capitalism. However, like most things in life, these things are rarely binary... good/bad, black/white.

More importantly, I am concerned about the spread of freedom as a means to bringing about substantive development around the world. Your point about India is right on, despite all the hype about Bangalore the simple fact is that 1/3 of the entire population of India(which in itself is equivalent to the entire population of the U.S.) can't read and live on less than $1 a day.

Jack Moore

Jeff, You are so wrong on this point. Google is doing what you, as a responsible BOD member, were you one, would have done in this situation. The USA soapbox does not translate all that far into the Near-, Middle-, and Far East. YET, we should hope. When it does, we would like to have USA investment and technology in place and leading the way. Alas, as we have seen, when the walls come tumbling down, the USA is left to picking up the small pieces.

Jack Moore

PS: Scott Adams is a phenomenon. But, only one phenomenon. Increasingly, a minor one, as he spent his formative years at Pac Bell. That, as we know, is three generations removed from the current reality. Suggest you get with GEN 4.

jeff

Jack,
I have considered all of these points, really I have. I tend to agree with you that were I a board member at Google I would have endorsed the China plan because it is in the best interests of shareholders.

Having said all that, there are so many moving parts in these geo-political issues that there is often a lot of questions marks on the question "then what". Too detailed to go into on a comment, perhaps fuel for a new post.

I appreciate the debate, as always, and am trying to consider all possible viewpoints.

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