Google’s Civil War is a First for the Big Tech Industry

By Published on May 25, 2019

It’s not the sort of “first” to rejoice market analysts’ hearts. If a recent longform article at Fortune is any guide, tech philosopher George Gilder was on to something when he told Steve Forbes recently that the whole Google culture is “kind of self-defeating and wrong.” The article describes the atmosphere as an internal “civil war.”

The “techlash” started with a 50-site worldwide walkout in early November 2018 over company handling of sexual harassment complaints. Beth Kowitt of Fortune reported:

It was the first time the world had seen such a massive worker protest erupt out of one of the giants of the technology industry—and certainly the first time outsiders got a glimpse at the depth of anger and frustration felt by some Google employees. But inside the Googleplex, the fuel that fed the walkout had been collecting for months. Tensions had been on the rise as employees clashed with management over allegations of controversial business decisions made in secret, treatment of marginalized groups of employees, and harassment and trolling of workers on the company’s internal platforms. “It’s the U.S. culture war playing out at micro-scale,” says Colin McMillen, an engineer who left the company in February…

At Old Google, employees say they had a voice in how the company was run. At New Google, the communication and trust between the rank and file and executives is in decline. Decision-making power, some say, is now concentrated at the very top of a company run by executives who are increasingly driven by conventional business metrics.

It’s ironic that a company that the public associates with enlightened ideas is not only in conflict with employees but in just the sort of conflict that typefies stodgier outfits.

In Life after Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy, Gilder argues that the future of computing is decentralized. Overwhelming size ceases to be an advantage and can, in fact, become a disadvantage. Instead of one walkout, there are fifty.

Steve Forbes and George Gilder discuss Google starting at 14:37 in a podcast conversation here.

George Guilder discusses Google in this video discussion, also featuring Stream executive editor Jay Richards:

Further reading:

  • George Gilder: Google does not believe in life after Google
    • He offers chilling insights into the ultimate visions of technocrats.
  • George Gilder talks tech at World News Daily
    • In a three-part interview, he elaborates on why he thinks Google is doomed.
  • Imagining Life after Google

 

Originally published at mindmatters.ai. Reprinted with permission.

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