Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s recent speech to the Abu Dhabi Media Summit offers a revealing glimpse into the Internet giant’s corporate culture. It prompts the question, do the company’s executives suffer from a dangerous self-righteousness?
Fortune’s Jon Fort examines Schmidt’s mindset in his article, "Top 5 moments from Eric Schmidt’s talk in Abu Dhabi."
During the presentation at the conference, a questioner asked Schmidt, "All this information you have about us: where does it go? Who has access to that? Does that scare everyone in this room?"
Schmidt relied on the usual trust-us-we’re-Google response. "Would you prefer someone else?" he asked. "Is there a government that you would prefer be in charge of this?"
But as Fort writes the question really should be, "Should we trust either" Google or government with so much data?
Fort writes that "Google sees itself really differently from other companies." He quotes Schmidt as saying:
“We see ourselves as a company with a mission about information and not a mission about revenue or profits."
Schmidt’s statement prompted Fort to ask:
"Will Google’s sense of exceptionalism give it an enduring moral compass? Or just a dangerous culture of self-righteousness?"
Based on recent behavior, I’d say the Internet giant has already fallen victim to its executives’ sense of self-righteousness. And, I’m far from the only one with that view.
- It’s not about the money.
- Google’s wealth means it "gets it."
- Google must sacrifice user privacy to grow.
- Users are hungry for Google synergy.
- Google is a worker’s utopia.
- The outraged users are confused.
Tate reaches this conclusion in the Gawker piece:
"Schmidt was right that there’s a lot of confusion around Google. Unfortunately for him, much of that confusion seems to originate in the company itself. Hopefully the Todd Jacksons of the company will have a chance to educate their peers on the realities of life outside the Googleplex. Eric Schmidt included."
Couple an arrogant sense of self-righteousness with a don’t-ask-permission-when-you-can-always-ask-forgiveness method of operating and you have just described Google’s corporate culture.