Eleven Ways Google is Evil

Eleven Ways Google is Evil

Eleven Ways Google is Evil

11. Google is hubristic "Page, even as they talked, stared fixedly at the screen of his P.D.A. "'...[Y]ou can't do this,' [Barry] Diller said. 'Choose.' "'I'll do this,' Page said matter-of-factly, not lifting his eyes from his hand-held device." — The New Yorker, 10/5/09

by Edward Cone

UPDATE: Google's backroom deal with Verizon on net neutrality has people talking again about the company's core values. While Google has earned some non-evil points since this slideshow first appeared by standing up to China, the latest news seems to support the theme of our story.

"Don't be Evil" is Google's motto. How's that going?

In this context, "evil" does not mean wicked, in the manner of Sauron or Voldemort, or bad in the way some people might judge tobacco companies or corrupt enterprise like Enron.

Nick Carr probably got it right when he said, "When Google adopted 'don't be evil' as the cornerstone of its corporate code of conduct, what it really meant was 'don't be Microsoft.'" This does not imply that Microsoft is truly evil, just that Google was defining itself against the most powerful company in the software industry at that time — a company that was feared but not loved.

So "don't be evil" translates roughly as "be customer-centric, and act with some greater good than your profit margins in mind — don't be just another huge company." By that standard, it's grown harder over time to argue that Google lives up to its motto. It is a useful and valuable and in many ways admirable enterprise, but maybe not so special after all.

Senior Writer and author of the Know It All blog

Ed Cone has worked as a contributing editor at Wired, a staff writer at Forbes, a senior writer for Ziff Davis with Baseline and Interactive Week, and as a freelancer based in Paris and then North Carolina for a wide variety of magazines and papers including the International Herald Tribune, Texas Monthly, and Playboy. He writes an opinion column in his hometown paper, the Greensboro News & Record, and publishes the semi-popular EdCone.com weblog. He lives in North Carolina with his wife, Lisa, two kids, and a dog.
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