Here's Why Google Dropped Famous 'Don't Be Evil' Motto
Here's Why Google Dropped Famous 'Don't Be Evil' Motto

According to latest reports and what can be seen in the history of the Internet, there have been changes in the code of conduct. Yes, the tech giant Google recently dropped famous ‘Don’t Be Evil’ motto from its code of conduct. And today in this article I will tell you why the tech giant Google dropped its famous motto from code of conduct.

Here’s Why Google Dropped Famous ‘Don’t Be Evil’ Motto

A lot of people still see Google as a good-humoured company that innovates by touching their business with a culture that goes beyond corporate standards. Part of this way of working is reflected in a phrase that became the company’s mantra in its early years: don’t be evil. But that is no longer the case, as the tech giant Google removed the expression almost entirely from its code of conduct.

Don’t be evil

The phrase was officially adopted in 2004 when the company was listed on the stock exchange. Despite this, Google still carried a startup image because of its colourful and informal offices, employee mishaps that include game rooms and food at ease, plus a stated concern and formerly atypical with the well-being of the user – or something close to it.

The office environment to this day resembles a university campus. In fact, the company struggled in the beginning to have a university atmosphere. For years, this was a way of attracting talents and the most promising newly formed minds. The strategy had a great relationship with the mantra. Although adopted in 2004, the phrase came about around 2000, when Google was already emerging as a disruptive company.

Janet Lowe, author of the book Google: Lessons from Sergey Brin and Larry Page, explains in the book that, at that time, the company was trying to involve employees in setting goals for the company. Predominantly young, engineers rejected corporate rituals, so to speak, which is why they did not like those meetings. Until one of them, Paul Buchheit (one of the main developers of Gmail), said that all the ideas treated there could be summed up in the phrase “don’t be evil.”

The phrase worked so much that it was even interpreted as the slogan of Google. Who does not want to work in a company with such a positive attitude? Who does not want to use services that, besides innovators, are driven by a company that refuses to go the wrong way? But there was a problem.

What is evil?

It sounds simple but it is not. Google itself had trouble defining “evil” within its culture. In the book, Janet Lowe cites Eric Schmidt’s apparent lack of interest in the subject: one time, the CEO of Google stated that malice was anything Sergey Brin (co-founder) said to be.

It was a joke, of course, but that made reference to the fact that Brin himself participated in several discussions on the subject and realized the complexity of the motto: “there is always someone upset, no matter what people do. We have to make decisions, otherwise, an endless debate begins,” Brin told an interview with Playboy in 2004.

There are many examples of situations that put the mantra against the wall. Chrome is one of them (well, just one). This is the most popular browser today, but before its launch, Google openly supported Firefox and even paid publishers who promoted the browser on their sites via AdSense.

It was such a close relationship that many people thought that Google betrayed Mozilla. The company would have promoted Firefox just to bring down the Internet Explorer domain while gaining time to create its own browser. That’s where the discussion begins: While being fully capable of developing a browser, was Google malicious by failing to support Firefox for its own solution?

From there you can see that often understanding about evil will depend on the affected side. Maybe that’s why Google started making the mantra worth protecting the interests of the user. This does not necessarily mean that the company has begun to hurt rivals but has not failed to adopt competitive strategies just to not look bad.

It makes sense if we take into account that Google had, at least in its early years, a very strong concern not to make its services inconvenient to the user. This is what made the company not accept money in exchange for prioritizing certain sites in the searches or what prevented the main page of the search engine to have a lot of information.

This approach is closely related to another motto of Google’s early years: attract users first, worry about making the service give money later. It was like this with Gmail, Maps and many other products.

The problem is that money has to come in. Investors and shareholders want to be rewarded and will press. There, Google increasingly had to resort to the currency of exchange of its services: the data of the users. To give a sense, they started to be used to display contextualized ads at the top of search results, an idea inadmissible many years ago.

Do the right thing

That does not mean that Google has decided to be bad. The “don’t be evil” motto may have worked for some time, but today it no longer makes sense because it is very subjective.

Because of Android, cloud services and technology trends, Google had to approach traditional companies. In a way, this does not make it very different from them. The creation of Alphabet proves that the anti-corporativist stance was only a phase. The consequence is in decisions that can be considered good or bad, everything depends on the context.

No less, the mantra has already been harshly criticized. Steve Jobs already called it bullshit; Jeff Bezos, the Amazon boss, once said that one should not even be bad, but also “that no one should boast about it.”

Recently, Gizmodo noted that the mantra was removed without flaunting the Alphabet code of conduct, with only one mention of it at the end of the document. But in practice, it’s been like this for some time: since the advent of Alphabet, the motto has been “do the right thing”.

The phrase does not have the same impact, but at least it brings more flexibility for Google to make decisions that can be considered positive under certain circumstances and negative in others. Basically, if they are within the law or can be defended instead of justified, Alphabet is okay.

So, what do you think about this? Simply share all your views an dthoughts in the comment section below.


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