13 January 2020

Medium: “I was Google’s Head of International Relations. Here’s why I left”

I think the important question is what does it mean when one of America’s marque’ companies changes so dramatically. Is it the inevitable outcome of a corporate culture that rewards growth and profits over social impact and responsibility? Is it in some way related to the corruption that has gripped our federal government? Is this part of the global trend toward “strong man” leaders who are coming to power around the globe, where questions of “right” and “wrong” are ignored in favor of self-interest and self-dealing? Finally, what are the implications for all of us when that once-great American company controls so much data about billions of users across the globe?

Although the causes and the implications are worth debating, I am certain of the appropriate response. No longer can massive tech companies like Google be permitted to operate relatively free from government oversight. As soon as Google executives were asked by Congress about Project Dragonfly and Google’s commitment to free expression and human rights, they assured Congress that the project was exploratory and it was subsequently shut down.

The role of these companies in our daily lives, from how we run our elections to how we entertain and educate our children, is just too great to leave in the hands of executives who are accountable only to their controlling shareholders who — in the case of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Snap — happen to be fellow company insiders and founders.

Ross LaJeunesse

The perception of Silicon Valley tech giants has changed dramatically for the worse in the past couple of years – and Google hasn’t escaped unscathed. This account from their former Head of International Relations comes to confirm various reports about employee dissatisfaction caused by cultural and organizational changes and a lack of transparency from management. The timing is interesting, since just last month Sundar Pichai was promoted to CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet – I have to wonder how much of this negative cultural shift is he responsible for, as he’s been effectively in charge for the past four years. The author doesn’t mention Pichai’s name in the article above, but he does cite management changes as reasons for his departure and the internal cultural shifts at Google.

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