Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Good for Google

It looks like Google is growing a pair. According this NY Times article, Google may be withdrawing from the Chinese market. A series of Chinese state-sponsored hacks into Google managed email addresses for anti-Chinese government agitators has prompted this move.

The werewolf has no problem with doing business in China, as long as you are honest about the pros and cons. China is a growth market on some levels, can potentially offer cost-savings to American companies, can offer American consumers cheaper priced goods, and can even emerge as a destination market for American exports at some point. He believes businesses have a responsibility to consider it as an option, if serious production synergies and value can be created. However, the werewolf also thinks the politburo in Beijing is loaded with some really nasty customers, that the mid-level bureaucracy is woefully corrupt, and that there is a moral cost do doing business with a murderous totalitarian regime. Just be upfront about your business decisions. We live in an age where businesses need to leverage all options to succeed and create the value that benefits us all. Plus, China isn't the only nasty regime where companies do business, it just happens to be the biggest nasty regime in world.

Herein lies the rub for Google. First of all, the werewolf thinks Google is managed by some of the most pretentious falsely moral hippie capitalistic butt plugs in the world. (He loves the hippie capitalist part) However, despite always being angry at them for their pretentiousness and empty moral preening, he uses a bunch of their products. The werewolf has a gmail account, he likes Chrome, and despite an effort to try and use more often, he still finds himself reflexively using google as his primary search engine. What can he say, the butt plugs make some excellent products.

However, the butt plugs at Google have an informal motto "Don't be evil." Google is really proud of that motto and wears it like a tramp stamp on their lower back. Fine. The werewolf actually agrees with the component of the ethos that drove the motto that emphasizes long term strategic considerations over quarterly profits. Evil can be construed as many things, and there isn't enough space to deep dive into that philosophical debate. Although, there is very little wiggle room when you strike a deal with a severely oppressive regime to enter their market and agree to completely comply with that awful regime's obscene censorship regulations. In a bid to enter the Chinese market, Google dropped their trousers and allowed Beijing to rough ride everything Google claimed to stand for. That hypocrisy never sat well with the werewolf and he resented the continual moral posturing and preening from the company, despite being a willing accomplice to Beijing's oppression of its people.

Google learned firsthand that Beijing takes you for a bad ride in more than one way. He thinks Google's decision to voluntary vacate the Chinese market is a bold and impressive move, that has begun to restore some of their damaged credibility in his eyes. He also thinks it is great for an iconic American company, like Google, to send the signal that avoiding the Chinese can be a good thing. He wishes there was more perspective on the whole China debate.

Here's to unexpectedly raising a paw in salute of a good move from Google.

No comments:

Post a Comment