Google surprise? Google strong-arms government officials

Is Google too heavy handed?
Written by Donna Bogatin, Contributor on

Just yesterday, I underscored that while Google marches to its own beat proudly and confidently, it is not always a good thing (see “Who needs Google? CBS vs. Viacom vs. NBC”).

Reports are surfacing that Google’s near fanatical obsession of deeming its standard business operations to be of “top secret” status has led the $150 billion market cap corporation to strong-arm local government officials in the course of attempting to negotiate favorable real estate development terms.

Why does Google believe the success of an advertising company depends upon operating as if it manufactures nuclear weapons in defense of the nation’s security? 

Just as Google keeps its advertising clients in the auction bidding blind to maximize keyword prices and Google profits, Google keeps the public and all of its constituents, vendors, and prospective partners in the business blind to minimize its expenses and maximize its profits.

Google has itself acknowledged that it views secrecy, or surprise, as one of its chief competitive advantages:

GOOGLE And on and on

What's next from Google? It's hard to say. We don't talk much about what lies ahead, because we believe one of our chief competitive advantages is surprise. And then there's innovation, and an almost fanatical devotion to our users. These are the things that fuel us, and, we hope, fuel your own dreams. Take a peek at some of the ideas our engineers are currently kicking around by visiting them at play in Google Labs. Have fun, but be sure to wear your safety goggles.

Last updated January 2006

Google remains steadfast in its aim to reveal nothing about anything it does to anyone, but seeks to be even more secretive about its targeted secrecy. The paragraph above was recently changed by Google and now reads:

GOOGLE And on and on


What's next from Google? It's hard to say. We don't talk much about what lies ahead, and every year brings new challenges. But come see what we're talking about or take a peek at some of the ideas our engineers are currently kicking around by watching them at play in the Google Labs. Have fun, and be sure to wear your safety goggles.

Google has publicly gone from touting surprise as a competitive advantage to demeuring about “new challenges” that lie ahead.

In private, Google secrecy continues big time, no matter what, even if public institutions and government institutions funded by U.S. taxpayers are involved.

The Charlotte Observer reports on Google’s strong arm tactics with North Carolina government officials:

Google tried to silence lawmakers and pushed, at times with a heavy hand, to influence legislation designed to bring the company to Caldwell County.

The company demanded that legislators never speak its name, and had them scolded when word of its interest in North Carolina leaked out, according to records made public this week.

As work proceeded on the bill to remove much of its tax burden, Google threatened to end negotiations because legislative staff didn't write exactly what it wanted. State Commerce Secretary Jim Fain was asked to "prevail upon" the bill writer.

Indeed, the first set of state documents released from the 13-month negotiations reveal a company obsessed with secrecy and not above bullying, tactics that helped get it tax breaks that could top $100 million over three decades.

"I sort of had to work in the dark," said Sen. Jim Jacumin, a Republican who represents Caldwell County. "That bothered me. They need to respect the laws of the land, even if they're business."

Even if they are a Googley business!

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