Google has been having a rough few years. In June 2018, its big government contract for Project Maven was scrapped when company executives gave in to internal criticism. Then, in November, employees walked out in protest over allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against top executives. Finally, in July, after employees pushed back against a censored version of Google Search being developed for China, the project was revealed to be canceled as well.
As it turns out, all of those issues were rooted in Googles culture, according to a massive new investigation by Wired. Former Android chief Andy Rubin. Getty Embracing aberrant geniuses The issue with Googles culture is most succinctly summarized in a quote from former Google CEO and Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt.
You need these aberrant geniuses because theyre the ones that drive, in most cases, the product excellence, Schmidt told Wired in an interview earlier this year. One of the aberrant geniuses named in the piece was former Android head Andy Rubin, who left Google in 2014 with a $90 million exit package after being accused of coercing a coworker to perform oral sex.
The products in reference here are some of Googles best — products used by billions of people around the world, like Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Translate. Theyre also tremendously important pieces of Googles business. And thats why Schmidts statement about aberrant geniuses being allowed more rope than other employees is so important: Its a cultural standard that allows executives to value certain employees so much that even after they are accused of sexual misconduct — and that accusation being considered credible by Google after an investigation — the accused person leaves with a massive bonus and no repercussions.
Google did not immediately respond to Business Insiders request for comment. Google employees staged a mass walkout in November. Matt Weinberger/Business Insider Political arguments divide the company The same cultural standard within Google that encourages frank, open dissent — when paired with Googles famously open internal communications — has also pushed employees into political arguments that have divided the company.
Several conservative former Google employees are suing the company, accusing Google of censoring their political speech and firing them, and one has become a talking point on Fox News. The engineer Kevin Cernekee is one of those former employees who says he was fired from Google because of what he alleges was anti-conservative bias.