- Jul. 3rd, 2006
- 4 comments
The following is a quote straight from Google's Investor Relations web page. "If an opportunity arises to take advantage of competitors' confidential information, remember: don't be evil. We compete, but we don't cheat." Unfortunately, I'm not so sure this speaks for Google's most recent actions that are, in my opinion, aimed at swiping Microsoft employees. One of them, Kai-Fu Lee, was apparently an integral part of Microsoft's search engine team. The result was an ugly law suit and a later undisclosed settlement. He is currently president of Google in China. Microsoft argued that Lee would inevitably disclose proprietary information to Google. Microsoft, in my opinion, is correct; and while I don't really agree that an employee of any particular company should be fettered to working for the company for all eternity, this is not the only time Google has summarily snatched a Microsoft employee. Recently, Vic Gundotra, a general manager for "platform evangelism" at Microsoft just moved to Google. In order to satisfy the letter of the law — the non-compete agreement — he will not work at Google for a full year. This seems to be a pattern. This is the letter of the law — OK. So it's legal. But is it evil? I think so. Just because it's legal doesn't make it non-evil. Google claims to operate by a higher standard of ethics, not just satisfy the basics of the law. They "do no evil." But is this a higher standard of ethics? At best it's poor ethics, in my opinion. And at worst it's corporate sabotage. I don't claim that Microsoft hasn't done their share of ethically-questionable things. But they also don't hide behind that terribly hackneyed "do no evil" garbage, either. I still think Google is a great company, and I'm not saying they've broken the law — at least not the letter, but their higher standards of ethics argument seems to be shakier these days.