Expect nothing substantive to change at Google and parent company Alphabet, following Tuesday’s announced departures of co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin from their roles as CEO and president, respectively, of Alphabet.
The moves made big headlines, but the pair is mostly invisible anyway, leaving Google CEO Sundar Pichai – who will now hold that title for Alphabet also – to take the frequent slings and arrows that are now regularly thrown at the companies, as he mostly already has in recent years. But in reality Page and Brin will still call the shots, thanks to their ownership of special classes of “super-voting” stock that gives them majority control.
The announcement of their moves admitted as much.
“We are deeply committed to Google and Alphabet for the long term, and will remain actively involved as Board members, shareholders and co-founders,” Page and Brin wrote. “In addition, we plan to continue talking with Sundar regularly, especially on topics we’re passionate about!
“…He’s worked closely with us for 15 years…There is no one that we have relied on more since Alphabet was founded, and no better person to lead Google and Alphabet into the future.”
In other words, Pichai will still be the punching bag for decisions and conduct that Page and Brin don’t want to be accountable for.
Since the reorganization of Google that created Alphabet in 2015, the co-founders have consistently skipped annual meetings, including the most recent one in June. There a raft of shareholder proposals – including one sponsored by National Legal and Policy Center to get the company to clean up its sexual harassment problems – were shot down, thanks to Page’s and Brin’s disapproval.
NLPC President Peter Flaherty also confronted leadership over a special committee that was shut down by Google because it would have included conservative Heritage Foundation president Kay Cole James, which would have been a simple gesture to ideological diversity. Pichai avoided answering for the decision to cave to the company’s rabidly leftist employees, rather than stand up for James.
The director of an investment group responsible for $5.7 billion in Alphabet said she was “very disappointed” in Page’s and Brin’s absences.
“These meetings are getting progressively more aggressive,” said Richard Clothier, one of Google’s first investors, to The Telegraph. “But it is futile, shareholders do not have the power.”
Many of the problems that are coming to a head for Google/Alphabet are the result of a dysfunctional corporate culture constructed under the leadership of Page and Brin.
Womanizing and harassment? According to interviews published in the 2018 book Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley (As Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom), which details the “countercultural” origins of some of the best-known big tech companies, Brin was more than happy to let the workplace become a free-for-all.
“Sergey’s the Google playboy,” said Charlie Ayers, Google’s first executive chef, in the tell-all. “He was known for getting his fingers caught in the cookie jar with employees that worked for the company in the masseuse room. He got around.”
According to Ayers, “H.R. told me that Sergey’s response to it was, ‘Why not? They’re my employees.’”
The company’s first human resources manager, Heather Cairns, added, “And we didn’t have locks, so you can’t help it if you walk in on people if there’s no lock. Remember, we’re a bunch of twenty-somethings except for me—ancient at 35, so there’s some hormones and they’re raging.”
So unsurprisingly, underlings have been considered fair game for dating relationships at Google/Alphabet. Page, Brin and former CEO Eric Schmidt have all had such associations within the company. Brin separated from his wife in 2013 and they divorced in 2015, on the heels of his reported involvement with another Google executive who was 14 years younger than him.
Page and Brin are also stepping away from their employment roles as the 2020 election becomes even more heated, with greater scrutiny upon Google’s unmitigated bias against President Trump, and conservative candidates and causes.
Again, this hyper-progressive culture comes from the top. In a now-famous leaked video from a company-wide meeting following Trump’s surprise victory in 2016, Brin said he was “deeply offended” by the president’s election, stating that it “conflicts with many of [Google’s] values.” He also compared Trump voters to supporters of fascism and communism.
So, even though Google denies it, the overwhelming evidence shows the company (including subsidiary YouTube) has allowed its political prejudices to infiltrate its search engine, advertising and video services. The latest of a multitude of examples was a Wall Street Journal expose’ earlier this month that showed Google changes algorithms, uses blacklists, and manually interferes with search results to deliver its desired outcomes.
And on Sunday, “60 Minutes” revealed that more than 300 Trump campaign ads had been taken down by Google and YouTube, without explanation. Confronted by the evidence, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki referred correspondent Leslie Stahl to the company’s “transparency report”…which explains nothing.
These and previous examples confirm what Project Veritas uncovered in June, via an anonymous insider and undercover video of a top executive, explaining Google’s plans to stop Trump in 2020. “They are a highly biased political machine that is bent on never letting somebody like Donald Trump come to power again,” the informant said.
In essence Alphabet is distortedly “public” as a company, with Page’s and Brin’s stranglehold on voting shares. Now they plan to be even less visible as more accountability is demanded, hiding deeper in the shadows than they already have, as the 2020 election nears. What cowards.