The lack of trust in management is reflected by management no
longer showing trust in the employees either, in the form of inane
corporate policies. In 2004, Google’s founders famously told Wall
Street “Google is not a conventional company. We do not
intend to become one.” but that Google is no more.
Much of these problems with Google today stem from a lack of
visionary leadership from Sundar Pichai, and his clear lack of
interest in maintaining the cultural norms of early Google. A
symptom of this is the spreading contingent of inept middle
It’s definitely not too late to heal Google. It would require some
shake-up at the top of the company, moving the centre of power
from the CFO’s office back to someone with a clear long-term
vision for how to use Google’s extensive resources to deliver
value to users. I still believe there’s lots of mileage to be had
from Google’s mission statement (“to organize the world’s
information and make it universally accessible and useful”).
Someone who wanted to lead Google into the next twenty years,
maximising the good to humanity and disregarding the short-term
fluctuations in stock price, could channel the skills and passion
of Google into truly great achievements.
I do think the clock is ticking, though. The deterioration of
Google’s culture will eventually become irreversible, because the
kinds of people whom you need to act as moral compass are the same
kinds of people who don’t join an organisation without a moral
This jibes with my perception of Google from the outside. Early Google did two things great:
Neither of those things has been true in recent years, and the responsibility clearly falls on Pichai.