Google investors are frustrated. Since January 1 of this year, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, and Microsoft are up +47%, +27%, +20%, and +32% respectively, while Alphabet/Google is down -3%. Even more frustrating is the growing list of negative events that clearly have distracted the company, such as:
* The Antitrust Storms Strengthens – The U.S. Justice Department indicates it is gearing up for a full-blown antitrust investigation. This follows the India Competition Commission recently launching an investigation into Google’s Android platform, which they claim is blocking a broad variety of rivals of various Google services. This India effort resembles a case of a year ago in which the European Union fined Google $4.87 billion for “abuse of its Android mobile operating system.”
* Growing Data Privacy Concerns –Pew Research reports that 91% of Americans “agree” or “strongly agree” that people have lost control over how their personal information is collected and used by online services. 80% are concerned with 3rd parties getting access to their data.
* Employees Protests Are Driving Management Decisions; Such as Abandoning “Military” Projects– Google was working on the Pentagon’s Project Maven, which uses artificial intelligence to analyze drone footage. A few employees not working on the effort found out about it, and stirred up a bunch of employees about working for the Defense Department on “military” things. After months of chaotic internal meetings and employee protests, Google Management announced it would not renew the contract.
* Dismissing Sexual Harassment and a $90M Severance Package – The press has reported on Google shielding or paying off senior executives who engaged in serious sexual misconduct. The highest profile example was the creator of the Android operating system who received a $90M package following such an incident. Massive employee protests resulted, and were covered extensively by the press.
* Millions of Business Listings on Google Search/Maps are Fake – Recently the Wall Street Journal ran a massive front page story, outlining several examples of people being led to scammers or shoddy plumbers/ lawyers/etc after clicking on the name of a reputable supplier. Net, you are left with the question: can I trust the data Google is presenting.
* The Inability to Block Fake or Inflammatory/Terrorist YouTube Posts Is on Display – The latest is the video posted on YouTube by the New Zealand terrorist of him killing 50 mosque attendees. Once YouTube discovered it, it was quickly taken down, but not quick enough; the video kept popping up in other parts of the internet. Net, it seems there is no way to prohibit this, given Google’s current operational practices.
Google Management seems frozen in the headlights. They are doing nothing on data privacy or fake information to get ahead of the mounting regulatory storm. They seem to have no principled HR rules, and no interest in helping protect the country and government that provides for them this robust economic environment in which they operate. The issues are obvious, but mature, seasoned management is nowhere to be found!