The anti-capitalist GOOG founders . . .

The anti-capitalist GOOG founders . . .

Summary: A new book about Google's founders highlights the ethical and moral philosophy that still guides the company...

TOPICS: Google, Banking

Did you know that key Google technology was born out of the Department of Defense funded Digital Libraries project?

Did you know that Google's founders believed search engines should be non-profit because commercialization would taint the results?

These are just a couple of items uncovered by Richard Brandt in his recently published book "Inside Larry & Sergey's Brain".

Although there are many books on Google, this one seeks to understand Google by understanding the motivations, and the ethical and moral thinking of its founders.

I spoke with Richard Brandt about the book. Although he didn't get to interview Messrs Page and Brin specifically, he has talked with them at various events, and he had access to many people who know them and who work with them.

From his research and conversations, Mr Brandt draws a picture of the founders as very moral and ethical -- and decidedly anti-capitalist in the early days.

During one early meeting with AOL, in which Sergey was told Google was stupid for not including paid placements in its search results, Sergey stormed out of the meeting then was heard by those inside the room saying, "Someone get me a can of gasoline -- I have to light myself on fire to get rid of the scum of those people."

Since they are both multi-billionaires, it would seem as if they have come to terms with making lots of money. But Mr Brandt says they are still very much concerned with doing the right thing.

"They recognize how powerful and important search is to lots of people and they deliberate a lot about the actions that Google makes and how it affects people. Sergey, for example, still has misgivings about China," says Mr Brandt.

"They consider the moral and ethical implications of Google much more than Microsoft ever did, and I should know because I used to report on Microsoft when I worked at BusinessWeek."

Because they own so much of Google they have tremendous amount of control. "They are very interested in energy and have hired dozens of engineers to work on solar, geothermal, and wind energy solutions. They are very keen in helping to jump start industries that need a helping hand."

At the heart of Google is its desire to index all the world's information, and part of that is the controversial Google books project that seeks to digitize as many books as it can, especially ones that have fallen out of copyright.

"They can't understand why there is so much opposition to the books project. It's more of a PR problem and that's why Sergey recently published an op-ed in the New York TImes trying to get their side across."

Messrs Page and Brin are very secretive and that doesn't help, he says.

"They don't trust the government, they don't trust the press and they don't trust Wall Street. They pretty much don't like anyone telling them what to do. And when they are convinced that they are right about something they can't understand why others would be against it."

Eric Schmidt, in many ways seems to be there to distract the outside world and to make it seem as if he is in charge. But Mr Brandt says Mr Schmidt has told him that even though he is the chief executive, "When you work at a company where the founders own the majority of the company , you work for them and not the other way around."

Messrs Page and Brin own the majority of the company and they own preferred shares with ten times the voting rights. This horrifies proponents of shareholder rights, says Mr Brandt, but that's the way they want it. "You don't have to buy Google shares if you don't like it is their response."

Mr Brandt's book makes a good case that the secret to understanding Google is understanding its founders.

Topics: Google, Banking

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  • Well duhhh....

    [i]They don?t trust the government, they don?t trust the press and they don?t trust Wall Street.[/i]

    So people wonder why they're so successful? Duh! They don't trust the three groups of people who constantly think they are oh so smart, but aren't....

    Sounds like a great life philosophy even if you won't make billions - don't trust the Government, Don't trust believe the press, and assume Wall Street is trying to rip you off.

    Yup, sounds good to me.
  • ok i don't believe that line

    ?They consider the moral and ethical implications of Google much more than Microsoft ever did, and I should know because I used to report on Microsoft when I worked at BusinessWeek.?

    just a bunch of crap, with billions of dollars is at stake, I won't believe such lies.

    anyways just my opinion :)
    • It's not a lie. They do consider morality, but then they ignore it.

      It's not entirely crap. They do consider moral
      and ethical implications of their business
      decisions, but at the end of the day they
      rationalize the business decision (e.g., filtering
      in China) like every one else :).
    • They care ethnics

      Perhaps that's why they violated authors' collective right by publishing their books online w/o even notifying them.

      This book is silly lip service.
  • "Hey Sergey: The world is looking at us"

    "as the money making, for profit, company that we are"

    "Well Larry, I guess we need to have a book written about us that would reafirm those myths that we are really a 'caring, moral, money's never been important to us', company"

    "Great idea Sergey! Lets toast on that idea!

    "You got it Larry! So it's off to our Lear Jet for champagne in the islands"
    • You see the world as the Pharisees saw it...

      so you go on projecting on others what you don't like to see in yourself.
      The Mentalist
      • ROTFL! :)

        You really are no good at this, are you?

        You really must try to focus your attention towards fields or endevours that are much more suited to your expertise, as psychology and the computer field seem to be a bit beyond your ability to comprehend.

        Also, you should learn to stop this mindless "protectionism" of all things sacred to you.

        Heaven forbid someone posts something that does not fit your narrow definition of how or what it should be, and you are all over them to the point that it makes little sense to those not directly involved in the issue.

        As a self proclaimed "Mentalist" you really should let others have an opinion that is not equivilent to yours.
        • Unfortunately I can't say the same about you

          As I can see nothing that suits your expertise, whatever that might be.
          The Mentalist
    • "Lear jet"?!

      The Google plane is a 767-200! Of course they had to bamboozle NASA
      to get permission to park it in Moffet Field so Larry & Sergey wouldn't
      have to be driven [b]all the way[/b] to San Jose or San Mateo. But hey,
      what's lying to the government when personal convenience is on the line?

    Is it just coincidence that Google has been the most
    innovative at destroying privacy, getting everyone to upload
    their data to their servers, etc??
    • If you don't like it, don't use it

      They have to eat to. They can't make money without data to target their ads.
  • If Google wasn't financially successful

    They would be bought out by MS or some other company that could care less about a philosophy.
    • Not necessarily

      You can only be "bought out" if you go public. A private company can tell MS to stick it. As soon as you IPO, you lose control of the company and it's decision making.

      If the founders of Google were truly as noble as they say they are, they never would have become publicly traded, which opened the company up to the money-grubbing and often unethical investors. Now the investors make the decisions, and they are after one thing $$, usually regardless of the health or well being of the company.
      • If they didn't go public they would be dead by now

        Many once successful companies found what it's like being singled out by M$. Remember Netscape?
        The Mentalist
        • ???

          I don't understand how they would be "dead" by now?

          Netscape died because every released after 4.71 sucked worse than the last. It was my primary browser until they loaded it up with crap and bloat and it would take 30s to load on my DX66 486.

          The only reason I went to IE at that point was because it sucked just a little less. Most of my colleagues had similar reactions. What do you think killed Netscape? I'll stick with my argument of an overbloated browser.
          • Many good companies went under because of Microsoft's actions

            Sergey and Larry are clever folks, they knew that going public was their only chance to survive a full scale attack from M$. Reality is proving them right.
            The Mentalist
          • Ahh yes...

            The terryfing full scale assault known as Bing!

            Companies that complain about MS's "tactics" aren't innovating or haven't invested enough in marketing their products to compete.

            MS can be beaten - Google, Apple, Oracle, IBM, Amazon, SalesForce, etc all prove it.

            These unfair practices I keep hearing about are how companies that didn't invest enough or innovate enough to compete with MS justify not making it.
  • heart of Google is its desire to index all the world?s information

    This includes all the private information about anyone that uses any one of its services. They may be well meaning now, but that could change. They might decide to retire from the company, die in an accident, or sell out. Who is to say that the next management, or owner would be as honest with the data. It is their database which gives them their strength . . . and makes them terrifying to anyone who believes in privacy.