For-profit

Google

Website:

www.google.com

Location:

Mountain View, CA

Formation:

1998

Type:

Multinational Technology Company

Subsidiary of:

Alphabet, Inc.

Founders:

Larry Page

Sergey Brin

CEO:

Sundar Pinchai

Google is a Mountain View, California-based multinational technology company and subsidiary of Alphabet, Inc. Google is considered one of the Big Four technology companies which includes Facebook, Apple, and Amazon. [1]

The company was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998 while both were Ph.D. students at Stanford University. Google is led by Sundar Pinchai who took over as CEO in 2015. [2] [3]

Products and Services

Google best known for its eponymous search engine. The search engine has become one of the most visited sites in the world.

Google also offers an email application (Gmail), web browser (Google Chrome), a light-weight operating system (Chrome OS), navigation services (Google Maps, Google Earth, Street View, and Waze), productivity software (Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides), instant messaging/video chat programs (Hangouts, Duo, and Google Allo), language translation (Google Translate), video sharing (YouTube), and a note taking service (Google Keep.)

Controversies

Military Relationships

In 2018, Google announced that it would not renew a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense after employees protested partnering with the American military. [4]

At a Congressional hearing in 2019, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford alleged the company’s work in China was “indirectly benefiting the Chinese military.” [5]

Privacy Concerns

Google has faced criticism for its collection and handling of private user information. Google officials testified before Congress in 2019 regarding the collection of location data by its Android mobile operating system,[6] the company acknowledged that its “Google Home Mini” devices had inadvertently collected more information than users intended,[7] and users of the Gmail email service objected to the company analyzing email text for advertising purposes. [8]

Search Engine Bias

Google has faced claims that it manipulates its search results for political and business ends. In June 2017, the European Union placed a 2.7 billion dollar fine against Google for manipulating search results to support its own products. [9]

In the last months before the 2016 election, researchers at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology and Northeastern University performed research on Google search results discovering that they overwhelmingly favored Clinton. In a USA Today op-ed, Robert Epstein, lead researcher and Clinton supporter, wrote, “I led a team that used objective methods to preserve 13,207 online election-related searches and the 98,044 web pages to which the search results linked. These data showed that Google’s search results favored Hillary Clinton (whom I supported) in all 10 positions on the first page of search results—enough, perhaps to have shifted two or three million votes in her direction over time.” [10] [11]

In December 2018, Sundar Pinchai testified to the House Judiciary Committee responding to claims that Google breached privacy and manipulated search results in favor of left-wing causes and candidates. [12]

In January 2018, the right-leaning Daily Caller published an article claiming that Google’s fact-checker only targeted conservative sites. [13] The fact-checker placed two tabs on the search results titled, “Topics They Write About” and “Reviewed Claims” employing a fact checker. The fact checker only checked conservative sites, such as The Federalist, Daily Caller, Daily Wire, and TheBlaze. The fact checker only appeared on one liberal site, Occupy Democrats. The Daily Caller report also alleged that the fact-checker “is also blatantly wrong, asserting sites made “claims” they demonstrably never made.” [14]

Workplace Issues

Google has faced criticism for having a workplace that is not diverse from a demographic or ideological perspective. As of 2014, the company’s internal assessments found that most Google employees were men and that few were African American or Hispanic. [15]

In July 2017, Google fired software engineer James Damore after an internal memo he wrote titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” arguing that many of the challenges facing diversity in the workplace involved innate differences between men and women rather than discrimination was released. [16] He also argued that Google was a political echo chamber limiting the speech of their conservative employees. As a result, Damore filed a lawsuit and National Labor Relations Board complaint against the company. The National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of Google. Damore’s lawsuit moved out of court and into arbitration in October 2018. [17] [18] [19]

In 2018, numerous Google employees staged a protest against what they alleged was insufficient handling of sexual misconduct complaints by the company. [20]

In 2019, Google fired employee John Wacker, who had managed an internal message board for Republican-leaning employees of the company. In public commentary before his firing, Wacker alleged that Google’s human resources staff inconsistently applied rules and that other Google employees had weaponized the human resources process to attack conservative-leaning employees. After his firing, Wacker alleged he had been targeted for his beliefs. [21]

Political Spending

In each of election cycle from 2014 through 2018, the Google Inc. PAC spent over $1 million dollars on House and Senate races, with a nearly even split among Republicans and Democrats. [22] [23] [24] In 2012, it spent approximately $800,000 with a nearly even partisan split. [25]

While the company’s official PAC is politically divided, a 2018 GovPredict study claimed that over 90 percent of political donations from employees at Google or Google-related companies goes to Democrats. [26]

Leadership

Pichai Sundarajan, commonly known as Sundar Pichai, is the CEO of Google. Prior to becoming CEO, he was Product Chief at Google and a management consultant for McKinsey and Company. [27] Pichai donates primarily to Google Inc. PAC and makes contributions of over $30,000 to both NRSC and DSCC. [28]

Larry Page is the current CEO of Alphabet, Inc., the parent company of Google. Page rarely donates to political candidates, but donates overwhelmingly to Democrats. Page is a financial supporter of many left-wing causes to include a $40,000 contribution in favor of same-sex marriage in California [29] and $1 million to the unsuccessful 2006 Proposition 87 which would have taxed oil producers to fund alternative energy research. [30]

Sergey Brin is the current president of Alphabet, Inc., the parent company of Google. After the 2016 election, far-right website Breitbart leaked a video of a group meeting of Google executives including Page and Brin criticizing the election results and President Trump to a room full of employees. [31] Brin notably donated $100,000 in support of state recognition of same-sex marriage. [32]

References

  1. Rivas, Teresa. “Ranking The Big Four Tech Stocks: Google is No. 1, Apple Comes in Last”. Barron’s. August 22, 2017. Accessed April 30,2019. https://www.barrons.com/articles/ranking-the-big-four-internet-stocks-google-is-no-1-apple-comes-in-last-1503412102
  2. Welch, Chris. “How Google’s new CEO plans to lead the company.” The Verge. August 10, 2015. Accessed June 1, 2019. https://www.theverge.com/2015/8/10/9128175/google-sundar-pichai-ceo-plan
  3. Malseed, Mark. “The Story of Sergey Brin.” Moment. May 6, 2013. Accessed June 1, 2019.
  4. Rosenberg, Adam. “Google, Facing an Internal Rebellion, Will End Its Work with the U.S. Military.” Mashable. June 02, 2018. Accessed June 12, 2019. https://mashable.com/2018/06/02/google-defense-department-project-maven-contract-not-renewed/.
  5. Quoted in Doffman, Zak. “Google Accused By Top U.S. General And Senator Of Supporting Chinese Instead Of U.S. Military.” Forbes. March 16, 2019. Accessed June 12, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdoffman/2019/03/16/google-accused-by-u-s-general-and-senator-of-benefiting-chinese-instead-of-u-s-military/#7dc104d21899.
  6. Neidig, Harper. “Google Takes Heat over Location Tracking in Privacy Debate.” TheHill. April 25, 2019. Accessed June 12, 2019. https://thehill.com/policy/technology/433742-google-takes-heat-over-location-tracking-in-privacy-debate.
  7. Darrow, Barb. “Eavesdropping Google Home Mini Units Are Igniting Privacy Concerns.” Fortune. October 11, 2017. Accessed June 12, 2019. http://fortune.com/2017/10/11/google-home-mini-data-privacy/.
  8. Rosenfeld, Steven. “4 Ways Google Is Destroying Privacy and Collecting Your Data.” Salon. February 04, 2014. Accessed June 12, 2019. https://www.salon.com/2014/02/05/4_ways_google_is_destroying_privacy_and_collecting_your_data_partner/.
  9. Romm, Tony. “Europe has fined Google 2.7 billion for manipulating search results.” Vox. June 27, 2017. Accessed June 2, 2019. https://www.vox.com/2017/6/27/15878980/europe-fine-google-antitrust-search
  10. Epstein, Robert. Robertson, Ronald. “A Method for Detecting Bias in Search Rankings, with Evidence of Systematic Bias Related to the 2016 Presidential Election” American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology. June 1, 2017. Accessed June 2, 2019.

    https://aibrt.org/downloads/EPSTEIN_&_ROBERTSON_2017-A_Method_for_Detecting_Bias_in_Search_Rankings-AIBRT_WP-17-02_6-1-17.pdf

  11. Epstein, Robert. “ Not just conservatives: Google and Big Tech can shift millions of votes in any direction”. USA Today. September 13, 2018. Accessed June 2, 2019.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/09/13/google-big-tech-bias-hurts-democracy-not-just-conservatives-column/1265020002/

  12. D’Onfro, Jillian. “Google’s Sundar Pinchai was grilled on privacy, data collection, and China during congressional hearing”. CNBC. December 11, 2018. Accessed June 1, 2019. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/11/google-ceo-sundar-pichai-testifies-before-congress-on-bias-privacy.html
  13. Lieberman, Eric. “Google’s New Fact Check Feature Almost Exclusively Targets Conservative Sites.” January 9, 2018. Accessed June 2, 2019. https://dailycaller.com/2018/01/09/googles-new-fact-check-feature-almost-exclusively-targets-conservative-sites/
  14. Lieberman, Eric. “Google’s New Fact Check Feature Almost Exclusively Targets Conservative Sites.” January 9, 2018. Accessed June 2, 2019. https://dailycaller.com/2018/01/09/googles-new-fact-check-feature-almost-exclusively-targets-conservative-sites/
  15. McGregor, Jena. “Google Admits It Has a Diversity Problem.” The Washington Post. May 29, 2014. Accessed June 12, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2014/05/29/google-admits-it-has-a-diversity-problem/?utm_term=.3a0e8620e7c5.
  16. Nicas, Jack. “Google Fires Employee Who Wrote Memo Criticizing Diversity Initiatives.” Wall Street Journal. August 8, 2017. Published June 2, 2019. https://www.wsj.com/articles/google-fires-employee-who-wrote-memo-criticizing-diversity-initiatives-1502159711
  17. Kovach, Steve. “The engineer Google fired over the diversity memo has filed a complaint with federal labor officials.” Business Insider. August 8, 2017. Accessed June 2, 2019. https://www.businessinsider.com/james-damore-files-nlrb-complaint-against-google-2017-8
  18. Matsakis, Louise. “Labor Board Rules Google’s Firing of James Damore Was Legal”. Wired. February 16, 2018. Accessed June 2, 2019. https://www.wired.com/story/labor-board-rules-google-firing-james-damore-was-legal/
  19. Robertson, Adi. “James Damore is moving his lawsuit against Google out of court.” The Verge. October 17, 2018. Accessed June 2, 2019. https://www.theverge.com/2018/10/17/17989804/james-damore-google-conservative-white-male-discrimination-lawsuit-arbitration
  20. “Google Workers Launch Worldwide Protests.” Voice of America. November 1, 2018. Accessed June 12, 2019. https://www.voanews.com/silicon-valley-technology/google-workers-launch-worldwide-protests.
  21. Benson, Guy. “Exclusive: Conservative Former Google Engineer Confirms His Firing, Casts Doubt on Tech Giant’s ‘Official’ Explanation.” Townhall. June 11, 2019. Accessed June 12, 2019. https://townhall.com/tipsheet/guybenson/2019/06/11/exclusive-audio-conservative-former-google-engineer-speaks-about-his-firing-tech-giants-official-explanation-n2547947.
  22. Center for Responsive Politics. “ Contributions to federal candidates, 2018 cycle.” Opensecrets.org. Accessed June 3, 2019. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgot.php?cycle=2018&cmte=C00428623
  23. Center for Responsive Politics. “Contributions to federal candidates, 2016 cycle.” Opensecrets.org. Accessed June 3, 2019. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgot.php?cmte=C00428623&cycle=2016
  24. Center for Responsive Politics. “Contributions to federal candidates, 2014 cycle.” Opensecrets.org. Accessed June 3, 2019. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgot.php?cmte=C00428623&cycle=2014
  25. Center for Responsive Politics. “Contributions to federal candidates, 2012 cycle.” Opensecrets.org. Accessed June 3, 2019. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgot.php?cmte=C00428623&cycle=2012
  26. Carelle, Katelyn. “90 percent of donations from Google related companies go to Democrats: study”. September 7, 2018. Accessed June 3, 2019. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/technology/90-percent-of-political-donations-from-google-related-companies-go-to-democrats-study
  27. Rosenberg, Eric. “Who is Google CEO Sundar Pinchai?”. Investopedia. December 5, 2018. Accessed June 3, 2019. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/090815/look-sundar-pichai-googles-new-ceo.asp

  28. Federal Elections Commission. “Individual Contributions: Sundar Pinchai”. Accessed June 6, 2019. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?two_year_transaction_period=2018&contributor_name=Pichai+Sundararajan+&contributor_name=Sundar+Pichai&min_date=01%2F01%2F2017&max_date=12%2F31%2F2018
  29. Nisen, Max. “Sillicon Valley employees spent more money opposing same-sex marriage than you might think.” Quartz. April 4, 2014. Accessed June 2, 2019. https://qz.com/195778/chart-more-silicon-valley-employees-supported-prop-8-against-same-sex-marriage-than-you-might-think/
  30. Anders, George. Buckman, Rebecca. “Venture Capitalists Ignite Bitter Fight With Push for California Oil Tax.” Wall Street Journal. September 27, 2006. Accessed June 2, 2019. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB115932428620575172
  31. Nguyen, Tina. “Sergey Brin’s Post-Election Meltdown Could Come Back To Haunt Google.” Vanity Fair. September 14, 2018. Accessed June 3, 2019. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/09/right-wing-media-vs-google
  32. Nisen, Max. “Sillicon Valley employees spent more money opposing same-sex marriage than you might think.” Quartz. April 4, 2014. Accessed June 2, 2019. https://qz.com/195778/chart-more-silicon-valley-employees-supported-prop-8-against-same-sex-marriage-than-you-might-think/

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Jacquelline Fuller
    Vice President
  2. Eric Schmidt
    Former Executive Chairman
  3. Stephanie Hannon
    Former Product Manager
  4. Marc Elias
    Consultant
  5. Sheryl Sandberg
    Former Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations
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