August 14, 2019

PAST ITS PEAK: Three Years of Misery Inside Google, the Happiest Company in Tech. “Google’s most vexing threats during that period came from inside the company itself. Over the next two and a half years, the company would find itself in the same position over and over again: a nearly $800 billion planetary force seemingly powerless against groups of employees—on the left and the right alike—who could hold the company hostage to its own public image.” Even this unjustifiably friendly portrait makes both Google’s management and its employees look like children. “Over the past three years, the structures that once allowed executives and internal activists to hash out tensions had badly eroded. In their place was a new machinery that the company’s activists on the left had built up, one that skillfully leveraged media attention and drew on traditional organizing tactics. Dissent was no longer a family affair. And on the right, meanwhile, the pipeline of leaks running through Google’s walls was still going as strong as ever.”

Related: Google needs a new CEO, but dumping Sundar Pichai is not enough. “Since its 1990s heyday, Silicon Valley has transformed from an unruly collection of aggressive upstarts disrupting existing industries to a flabby collection of near-monopolies, now busy enforcing gentry-liberal norms on their employees and customers. Whether it’s censoring right-leaning political figures, or firing employees who dare say something truthful but politically incorrect, there’s not much of the old startup spirit there. These are flabby overstaffed Big Business corporations, run by their HR departments. You might find more dynamism at General Motors, these days. But worse yet, they exercise tremendous power and require tremendous trust.” And they’ve repeatedly proven themselves unworthy of that trust.

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