For-profit

Alphabet

A view of the Google logo, from the patio area of Googleplex, between buildings 40 and 43. (link) by Jijithecat is licensed CC BY-SA 4.0 (link)
Website:

abc.xyz

Location:

Mountain View, CA

Formation:

2015

Alphabet is an American multinational technology conglomerate best known as the parent company of Google. It began as a search engine start-up in 1998 and has since expanded into email, video, computer hardware products, and numerous other technology endeavors. As of 2018, Alphabet was one of the largest and most profitable corporations in the United States.[1] Its founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, are two of the ten wealthiest Americans.[2]

The Google Foundation, a charitable arm of Alphabet, has been a multi-million-dollar funder of several left-wing advocacy organizations, such as Netroots,[3] and the Natural Resources Defense Council.[4]

In 2018 the human rights watchdog Amnesty International criticized Alphabet subsidiary Google for  developing a search engine that would censor search results of users in communist China, and block from them terms such as “student protest” and “human rights.” Likewise, Vice President Mike Pence called on the company to cancel the program.[5]

In 2017 an employee of the left-of-center New America think tank was fired after posting a statement on the organization’s website endorsing a $2.7 billion anti-trust penalty assessed by the European Union against Google. Alphabet, its executive chairman Eric Schmidt, and Schmidt’s family philanthropic foundation had been major financial supporters of New America. Just before the New America employee’s termination, Schmidt had contacted the New America president to complain about the statement supporting the EU fine.[6]

General Background

Google began as a search engine company in September 1998 by Stanford PhD. candidates Larry Page and Sergey Brin. By mid-1999 traffic to the Google website was growing 50 percent per month, and the company had obtained $25 million in venture capital funding to pursue its expansion.[7]

In August 2004, Google launched the initial public offering of its stock, becoming a publicly held company.[8] By 2015, having grown substantially and acquired several other internet properties – such as the video service YouTube – Google announced the creation of Alphabet, Inc., which became the holding company for Google and all other related subsidiaries. Brin and Page transferred to the leadership roles at the new parent company.[9]

Alphabet was ranked 22nd largest company on the 2018 Fortune 500 listing, with 2017 revenues of more than $110 billion.[10] It was also ranked as the 14th most profitable company by Fortune, with 2017 profits of nearly $12.7 billion.[11] Page and Brin were respectively the 6th and 9th wealthiest Americans on the 2018 Forbes 400 ranking, with an estimated combined net worth of $100 billion.[12]

PAC Donations

The Google LLC NETPAC has – on average – given more than $1 million to federal candidates and political committees every election cycle since 2012, and has roughly divided its donations evenly between Democrats and Republicans.

For example, in 2018 the PAC gave $985,322 to individual federal candidates, 50 percent to Democrats and 49 percent to Republicans.[13] In addition, it contributed more than $600,000 to political action committees, $325,000 to Democratic-aligned committees, and $287,000 to Republican-aligned committees.[14]

During the 2012 election cycle, Sergey Brin gave $5,000 to the reelection committee of President Barack Obama (D), and $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee. Through the 2018 election cycle these appear to be Brin’s only personal donations to federal political parties or candidates.[15] Through 2018, Larry Page does not appear to have donated personally to a federal candidate or political party committee.

Google Foundation

The Google Foundation (also known by its internet address, Google.org) is the corporate charitable arm of Alphabet, Inc., and its subsidiary, Google. It is a major funder of left-wing advocacy, having contributed at least $70 million in the decade between 2007-2016 to organizations such as the Tides Foundation (a provider of ideologically left-wing donor-advised funds)[16], Netroots (an annual conference of leftist bloggers)[17], and the Natural Resources Defense Council (a left-wing environmentalist organization responsible for the “Great Apple Scare of 1989” hoax).[18]

Controversies

New America Reprisal

In June 2017 Barry Lynn, a staffer for the left-of-center think tank New America, posted a statement on the organization’s website praising a $2.7 billion anti-trust fine that had just been levied by the European Union against Google, encouraging U.S. regulators to pursue similar cases against “dominant platform monopolists.” Lynn was then the head of New America’s Open Markets initiative, reportedly a leader in “a growing chorus of liberal criticism of the market dominance of telecom and tech giants, including Google.”[19]

Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt was reported to have objected to Lynn’s commentary to Anne-Marie Slaughter, the president of New America (and a former Obama administration official). Schmidt, his family foundation, and Google/Alphabet had together donated more than $21 million to New America since 1999, a generosity identified by the name of the think tank’s conference room: “The Eric Schmidt Ideas Lab.” Mr. Lynn was fired in August 2017, following publication of a New York Times story about the incident.[20]

China Censorship

During August 2018, The Intercept, a left-wing news website, revealed Google’s ongoing work on “Dragonfly,” a customized search engine designed for China that would censor terms deemed objectionable by the Communist Chinese regime and share Google search results performed by Chinese users with an affiliate of the government. “Human rights,” “student protest,” and “Nobel Prize” were reported as examples of phrases Google had agreed to restrict. Following the revelation, a senior scientist with Google resigned in protest, 1,400 Google employees signed a letter demanding the project be subjected to an ethics review, and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence called for an immediate cancellation of work on Dragonfly. [21]

In late November 2018 the left-leaning human rights advocacy group Amnesty International announced plans for demonstrations against the Dragonfly project that would take place at Google offices across North America, in several European nations, in Chinese-controlled Hong Kong, and in Australia. Amnesty officials asserted that deployment of Dragonfly would place Google in the position of participating in human rights violations.[22]

“If Google is happy to capitulate to the Chinese government’s draconian rules on censorship,” said an Amnesty representative, “what’s to stop it cooperating with other repressive governments who control the flow of information and keep tabs on their citizens?” [23]

Google had introduced a censored Chinese search engine in 2006 but removed itself from the Chinese market in 2010, stating Google would no longer comply with the Chinese government’s censorship demands or tolerate its abuse of political dissidents.[24]

Sexual Harassment

Approximately 20,000 Alphabet employees worldwide participated in a November 1, 2018, walkout to protest what was alleged to be a culture of sexual harassment at the company.[25]  The walkout occurred shortly after a newspaper account featured a female employee accusing a male colleague (reportedly the creator of the Android operating system) of coercing her to perform a sexual act in 2013. The company requested the man’s resignation but provided him with a $90 million severance package.[26]

References

  1. “Fortune 500: Most Profitable.” Fortune. Accessed November 30, 2018. http://fortune.com/fortune500/list/filtered?sortBy=profits&first500
  2. “Forbes 400.” Forbes. October 3, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://www.forbes.com/forbes-400/#2f79d8857e2f
  3. “Netroots.” Influence Watch. Accessed Novembe 29, 2018. https://www.influencewatch.org/non-profit/netroots-nation/
  4. “The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would send a flood of toxic tar sands oil—one of the dirtiest fuels in the world—through America’s heartland.” Natural Resources Defense Council. Accessed November 29, 2018.    https://www.nrdc.org/keystone-xl-pipeline; Google Foundation. IRS Form 990, 2007.; Google Foundation. IRS Form 990, 2009.; and Google Foundation. IRS Form 990, 2010.
  5. Gallagher, Ryan. “AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL TO STAGE WORLDWIDE PROTESTS AGAINST GOOGLE’S “DYSTOPIAN” CENSORED SEARCH FOR CHINA.” The Intercept. November 26, 2018. Accessed December 1, 2018. https://theintercept.com/2018/11/26/google-dragonfly-project-china-amnesty-international/
  6. Vogel, Kenneth P. “Google Critic Ousted From Think Tank Funded by the Tech Giant.” New York Times. August 30, 2017. Accessed November 30, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/30/us/politics/eric-schmidt-google-new-america.html
  7. “Google Receives $25 Million in Equity Funding.” Google. June 7, 1999. Accessed November 30, 2018. http://googlepress.blogspot.com/1999/06/google-receives-25-million-in-equity.html
  8. “If You Had Invested Right After Google’s IPO.” Investopedia. Accessed November 30, 2018. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/active-trading/081315/if-you-would-have-invested-right-after-googles-ipo.asp
  9. “Google to be part of new holding company, ‘Alphabet.’” AOL.com. August 10, 2015. Accessed November 30, 2018. https://www.aol.com/article/2015/08/10/google-to-be-part-of-new-holding-company-alphabet/21220854/
  10. “Fortune 500: Alphabet.” Fortune. Accessed November 30, 2018. http://fortune.com/fortune500/list/filtered?searchByName=Alphabet
  11. “Fortune 500: Most Profitable.” Fortune. Accessed November 30, 2018. http://fortune.com/fortune500/list/filtered?sortBy=profits&first500
  12. “Forbes 400.” Forbes. October 3, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://www.forbes.com/forbes-400/#2f79d8857e2f
  13. “Influence & Lobbying / PACs / Google Inc / Summary: 2018 PAC Summary Data.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed November 30, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/lookup2.php?cycle=2018&strID=C00428623
  14. “Influence & Lobbying / PACs / Google Inc / PAC to PAC/Party: 2018.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed November 30, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pac2pac.php?cycle=2018&cmte=C00428623
  15. “Donor Lookup: Brin, Sergey.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed November 30. 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/donor-lookup/results?name=Sergey+Brin&cycle=&state=&zip=&employ=&cand=
  16. “Tides Foundation.” Influence Watch. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://www.influencewatch.org/non-profit/tides-foundation/
  17. “Netroots.” Influence Watch. Accessed Novembe 29, 2018. https://www.influencewatch.org/non-profit/netroots-nation/
  18. “The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would send a flood of toxic tar sands oil—one of the dirtiest fuels in the world—through America’s heartland.” Natural Resources Defense Council. Accessed November 29, 2018.    https://www.nrdc.org/keystone-xl-pipeline; Google Foundation. IRS Form 990, 2007.; Google Foundation. IRS Form 990, 2009.; and Google Foundation. IRS Form 990, 2010.
  19. Vogel, Kenneth P. “Google Critic Ousted From Think Tank Funded by the Tech Giant.” New York Times. August 30, 2017. Accessed November 30, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/30/us/politics/eric-schmidt-google-new-america.html
  20. Vogel, Kenneth P. “Google Critic Ousted From Think Tank Funded by the Tech Giant.” New York Times. August 30, 2017. Accessed November 30, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/30/us/politics/eric-schmidt-google-new-america.html
  21. Gallagher, Ryan. “AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL TO STAGE WORLDWIDE PROTESTS AGAINST GOOGLE’S “DYSTOPIAN” CENSORED SEARCH FOR CHINA.” The Intercept. November 26, 2018. Accessed December 1, 2018. https://theintercept.com/2018/11/26/google-dragonfly-project-china-amnesty-international/
  22. Gallagher, Ryan. “AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL TO STAGE WORLDWIDE PROTESTS AGAINST GOOGLE’S “DYSTOPIAN” CENSORED SEARCH FOR CHINA.” The Intercept. November 26, 2018. Accessed December 1, 2018. https://theintercept.com/2018/11/26/google-dragonfly-project-china-amnesty-international/
  23. Gallagher, Ryan. “AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL TO STAGE WORLDWIDE PROTESTS AGAINST GOOGLE’S “DYSTOPIAN” CENSORED SEARCH FOR CHINA.” The Intercept. November 26, 2018. Accessed December 1, 2018. https://theintercept.com/2018/11/26/google-dragonfly-project-china-amnesty-international/
  24. Gallagher, Ryan. “AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL TO STAGE WORLDWIDE PROTESTS AGAINST GOOGLE’S “DYSTOPIAN” CENSORED SEARCH FOR CHINA.” The Intercept. November 26, 2018. Accessed December 1, 2018. https://theintercept.com/2018/11/26/google-dragonfly-project-china-amnesty-international/
  25. D’Onfro, Jillian. “Google walkouts showed what the new tech resistance looks like, with lots of cues from union organizing.” CNBC. November 3, 2018. Accessed November 30, 2018. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/03/google-employee-protests-as-part-of-new-tech-resistance.html
  26. Sullivan, Emily. “Google Employees Walk Out To Protest Company’s Treatment Of Women.” NPR. November 1, 2018. Accessed November 30, 2018. https://www.npr.org/2018/11/01/662851489/google-employees-plan-global-walkout-to-protest-companys-treatment-of-women

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Larry Page
    CEO & Co-Founder
  2. Sergey Brin
    President & Co-Founder
  3. Eric Schmidt
    Former Executive Chairman
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Alphabet

1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043