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Where in the World Is Larry Page? (bloomberg.com)
314 points by kshatrea 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 232 comments

It's kind-of Congress' own fault here. They so often have these... events, that are mostly for show and for the politicians to grandstand making them seem tough to voters but really have very little substance. I doubt any meaningful policy ever comes of them. Doesn't everybody know by now that they're grilling these CEO's in front of the cameras and begging them for money behind the cameras?

"outrage" indeed.

The Senate Intelligence Committee hearings are usually pretty facts-first unlike the other random hearings and sessions. I watch them on C-SPAN whenever they happen (which isn't that frequent).

Edit: I strongly recommend watching these directly from C-SPAN rather than the summarized spin-version from random news companies. You might be surprised how little of their time is wasted on grandstanding. Yeah, some politicians will throw in their jabs, but that's not the purpose of those committees and it's a fractionally tiny amount of the dialog. But that's what the news focuses on because it's the most sensational.

The SSCI might be less of a circus show than e.g. House committees, but you still hear preposterous things from them. Look at this interview:


"I know Kent Walker. He’s a good guy. I respect him, but we had the lawyers back in November. This is a hearing that’s going to talk about solutions. I think it speaks volumes that Google doesn’t want to be part of that discussion. I don't think it’s good for them or for coming up with a good solution."

That tells me that either Warner doesn't know what Walker does on a daily basis (he could ask) or he just wants an excuse to skewer Page over China, as in the next paragraph. It's particularly glaring, because he goes out of his way to mention that the hearing was about solutions. Any solution at Google/Alphabet would involve Walker a lot more than Page, who's just not immersed in policy. "We had the lawyers back in November" is such a cheap shot. (Perhaps even cheaper if you know that Warner is a lawyer who never practiced...)

And this is from a Democrat who has more latitude to do his real job on the committee. Out of political calculation, Burr and co. need to avoid getting on the nerves of the guy in the White House by even implying that perhaps his victory was aided by another government. All of this to say that I don't expect much to be done. There's the DETER act, but it's not clear if it will pass, in what shape and with what kind of vigor it will be enforced.

You're citing a Wired interview with one member of the committee which isn't the same thing as a real committee hearing.

[You asked if I'm a Googler] I used to be a Googler, years ago. That's how I know how ridiculous the outrage and the downplaying of Walker are. I'm glad I can talk now without being accused of defending my employer. I brought up Warner because he's one of the most persistent voices, yet he wanted to talk about China, which is not related to election interference.

Did you reply to the wrong person?

No, he removed his original "Also, aren't you a Googler?"

> The Senate Intelligence Committee hearings are usually pretty facts-first

Granting, for the sake of argument, that SSCI public hearings are on average more substantive and less grandstanding around pre-set narratives than other public Congressional hearings [0], there was ample advance reason to believe that this hearing was not going to further that pattern.

> Yeah, some politicians will throw in their jabs, but that's not the purpose of those committees and it's a fractionally tiny amount of the dialog.

It may be a tiny amount of the dialog, but even then it's often the tiny amount that actually is decisive in motivating the hearings, in much the only way that advertising may be a minority of the airtime on commercial TV networks, but it's 100% of the purpose.

[0] I don't think it's true on balance, but I do think it seems true based on the selection of public hearings that get major media attention, because substantive, non-showboating hearings of other committees rarely get attention.

>"It may be a tiny amount of the dialog, but even then it's often the tiny amount that actually is decisive in motivating the hearings, in much the only way that advertising may be a minority of the airtime on commercial TV networks, but it's 100% of the purpose."

That's a completely absurd analogy.

"Throwing jabs" is most certainly not 100% of the purpose. The purpose of making committee hearings public was part of The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 as well as an earlier reform effort in the 1940s.[1][2].

These acts mandated that standing committees be open to the public. This was done for transparency, accountability and to keep overly powerful chairmen in check. That is 100% of the purpose. Facts matter.

You are also free to attend open hearings in person, its first come first served. If you don't happen to live in Washington, D.C. however public access is by televising these.

I posted a link above last weeks hearing in its' entirety. Please point out the "jabs" and "grandstanding."

[1] https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/briefing...

[2] https://lahood.house.gov/sites/lahood.house.gov/files/brief_...

Do you have any examples? I watch almost all of their public hearings and it's rarely ever grandstanding. Again, you might have a couple of people take quick jabs but if you watch the actual hearings (don't watch reporters take parts of them out of context) it's usually very straight forward and constructive.

Part of it is also to function as a communication channel to the people. It shows their constituents that they're asking the questions people want them to ask and it would give Google's leaders a chance to explain their company-wide position on issues in this case. But they have to care enough to show up.

> Do you have any examples? I watch almost all of their public hearings and it's rarely ever grandstanding.

That's true of most committees; the difference that makes SSCI seem better is that non-grandstanding hearings (or moments of hearings) from, say, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry have roughly a 0% chance of ever getting coverage from the major media, whereas, due to subject matter, SSCI hearings can be newsworthy without grandstanding (though the grandstanding still gets far disproportionate coverage.)

> Part of it is also to function as a communication channel to the people. It shows their constituents that they're asking the questions people want them to ask and it would give Google's leaders a chance to explain their company-wide position on issues in this case.

If Google needed the opportunity of an SSCI hearing to get any message it (or a client) wanted to virtually any audience of concern, the uncontroversial portion of the premise for inviting them to the hearing would collapse. Page showing up improves the ability of the Senators that have prejudged Google to get media coverage of their grandstanding, but it does nothing for Google's ability to have it's message reach any audience it cares to have it reach. There's no value to Google in voluntarily cooperating in a hearing concerning matters on which so many members of the committee had publicly, explicitly, and in quite immoderate terms prejudged Google and where the terms sent clearly were incompatible with an intent of productive information gathering rather than political scapegoating.

It's, of course, the prerogative of Congress members to use hearings for grandstanding with high value PR target witnesses as props as a means of gesturing to their constituents about their concern on an issue. It's also a very good idea for those high value PR targets to decline to voluntarily cooperate when it is clear that are being invited as punching bags. (It's both good for the punching bags and good for the integrity of the process of government.)

I second this sentiment. I started paying attention to C-SPAN after watching Dan Kaminsky testify about the DNS vulnerability, and it's been very illuminating to see how both sides of the table ask questions.

On C-SPAN those jabs don't seem like much, but they are mostly what's included on regular news coverage. Making them the main point of the exercise.

The main point of the "exercise" is to discuss the issues and a few politicians hijack a few minutes of time to make political jabs for the media.

The rest of it is still important. They're asking questions and forming their perception of the situation which they use to shape policy.

If they simply want fact finding they could do that over a phone call.* The circus is very much the point.

* Granted, phone calls don't have the weight of purgery to keep people honest. But, that only goes so far.

In this case it isn't a "circus". Watch these hearings, they aren't as sensational as you seem to think [1].

When it comes to information warfare and propaganda, you'll see them come to the same type of conclusion on multiple panels, which is that public awareness is a key component in any effective counter measure. Giving the leaders of these industries a mic to educate the public seems in all of our best interest. Not all of these committees are some kind of "circus". It's just a normal part of how these things work.

[1] Recent example: https://www.c-span.org/video/?449088-1/senate-intelligence-c...

PS: If our politicians did all of these behind closed doors and on private phones you'd be on here complaining about that too. I prefer that some of this happens in the public eye.

There kavanaugh hearing wasn't a circus either (ignoring the protestors), but it's still just a tool to generate soundbites.

A closed door hearing is for fact finding, public ones are for proselytizing.

Or... It's done in public to keep the public informed as to what issues they're looking at and help us follow along because transparency is a useful component in democracy?

Just because a tiny amount of grandstanding happens doesn't make it all mock/show.

Full disclosure, you're a Googler.

Your first paragraph would be spot on if there were only a tiny amount of grandstanding.

The majority of questions at every hearing I've seen have been politically biased grandstanding, with the goal of creating a soundbite that appeals to the base, not of factually informing the public.

Which Intelligence Committee hearings are you talking about? I linked to a recent one in a grandparent post that has almost no grandstanding as far as I'm concerned and for the IC that's usually how it is. I can't speak for the larger committees with more media attention.

Let me put it this way: if you want to have a real productive discussion on data privacy, you want the head lawyer who, despite Senate grandstanding, probably does make legal decisions for the company.

You don't want the guy who thinks that google, probably uses version control software, but doesn't know what it is.

The ic didn't want a decision maker, they wanted a heel.

Let me put it this way: when the entire point is to educate the public about ongoing attacks and to show that these companies are taking all of this seriously... Snubbing our Intelligence Committee because Page didn't prioritize it highly enough seems, to me, to be the least helpful thing your employer could have done.

Except that they, as far as I know, changed from saying the head lawyer was fine, to saying the CEO or nothing with less than a month before the event.

And again, if you want a discussion, you need people who are contextual experts. A CEO can't speak intelligently about security and privacy at Google or Facebook. Nor can Congress. You can discuss things in broad strokes and talk about high level initiatives, but actually real, useful discussion is unlikely.

There was a popular post yesterday showing pichais response to a question about fake news at a Google internal meeting. It was a widely derided answer and being uninformed, despite it being to a roomful of engineers who work at Google.

That leads to one conclusion, through any number of avenues (pichai doesn't understand the issues, realpolitik, people don't understand the issues, googlers don't understand the issues, etc.), That a congressional hearing asking Google about fake news would be unproductive theatre.

> purgery

That’s “perjury”.

We live in a Democracy. These fact finding exercises must occur in view of the public.

C-SPAN covers this stuff verbatim, with zero spin. This stuff is very important to Democracy, and sitting it out is horrible optics.

The point of the exercise was never to make the news, it's about governing.

The news just doesn't like reporting on the boring stuff.

> The point of the exercise was never to make the news, it's about governing.

Then why the empty chair theatrics; why reject, in a hearing notionally about policy, the Google executive most appropriate for policy issues; why the pretense of national importance of having particular witnesses with dramatic complaints about their absence when the committee only used voluntary invitations and not subpoenas compelling testimony?

It may not be all theatrics, but it's definitely more about theatrics than governing.

Completely disagree. I don’t know how you could say that. Business leaders have to answer for their companies actions, and senate hearings is one way we have of them doing that. And as wybiral said, it was a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

Maybe I’m jaded, but your response reminds me of those from Theranos employees on this very forum when it was criticised.

"Business leaders have to answer for their companies actions"

We have a law enforcement and judicial system for that. Most Senators don't know anything about business or technology.

The Intelligence Committee is more "with it" when it comes to technology and information warfare than the senate pool at large.

Who do you think passes the laws that are then (supposedly) enforced by law enforcement and the judicial system?

In practice, Lobbyists write these laws. Passage or non-passage is less important than content.

Politicians are the ones that introduce these laws, and these companies answer to the people, not just to lobbyists.

You seem pretty consistently dismissive of the democratic process in this thread. I don't think I should have to remind you of how critically important it is.

> Politicians are the ones that introduce these laws

Technically yes. But politicians (the actual rep's themselves) do not really write the laws - they just agree on the spirit of the law of which they're pursuing and then basically sell it to other members.

It's the equivalent of engaging a Partner at a big 4 consultancy. They show up for the sales call, but are nowhere to be found when the solution they sold actually gets implemented.

I am not saying these things are pointless, just that the value is different than what you're suggesting.

Sound bytes are an important part of the democratic process. Politions need to differentiate themselves from the pack by standing on one side or the other of any given issue otherwise the general public would be voting randomly.

Personally I'm interpreting a no show as a vote of no confidence.

And given the footage I've seen of late from such hearings, I too have no confidence in their abilities.

Zelphyr 5 months ago [flagged]

I agree that business leaders have to answer for their actions. But that is clearly not what is happening at these inquiries. The CEO of Equifax was called to one when they had their major security breach last year. What came of that? Can we all honestly say, a year later, that he answered for his company's actions? Nothing of consequence happened to him, very little if anything of consequence happened to his company, and as far as I know only minor changes happened to their industry.

My point in my original post is that these inquiries should have WAY harsher consequences than they have. Larry Page should be facing the real possibility of jail time right now for not having shown up. Policy changes should be coming from these inquiries.

But, sadly, none of that is going to happen and we all know it. Because you don't put a guy who helps fund your campaign in jail.

> these inquiries should have WAY harsher consequences than they have

As another commenter posted, we have a judicial system for that. We have separation of powers in our government for a reason. Congress should not be acting as judge and jury.

Why should he be facing jail time? He was invited to attend and didn't. Declining an invitation isn't a crime.

If Congress really thought it was necessary for him to attend they would have used their subpoena power either initially or after he declined the invitation. Refusing a congressional subpoena is a crime.

The fact that they haven't should tell you how important they really think it is. Most of them are probably happier that he didn't because it gives them more chances for sound bites.

After all the hearing were just for show. The real questions they wanted answered were submitted to the companies in writing and all of the companies including Google/Alphabet provided written responses.

This was the Senate Intelligence Committee though not a joint committee(Judiciary and Commerce)hearing like back in April.

Senate Intelligence Committee hearings tend to much more informed and productive comparatively speaking. It's apparent from even a cursory viewing of the hearing.[1]

Larry Page would have been made well-aware of this distinction before making the decision not to attend.

[1] https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/hearings/open-hearing-fo...

From a PR point of view Google has handled this whole privacy debacle very well. By keeping a very low profile on privacy, they’ve made sure Facebook takes the heat. Facebook’s horrendous management of the issue has also allowed Google to slide under the radar on the topic. Generally I think Page is doing the right thing by keeping a low public profile.

Google didn’t play as fast and loose with sharing data as Facebook did. That helps.

The sales pitches to partners were quite different, from what I can see.

Google have always been selling advertising first and foremost. Their pitch is "we will put you in front of the right people".

Facebook, an other social network providers, seem to have modernised this badly. The social graph and access to it was the key offering, so their pitch was "we will give you access to the right people".

How did it go on like that for so long? There were four sets of entities involved who for their own reasons did nothing:

1. Those buying the access knew the difference and eagerly lapped up as much as they could.

2. The general public was blissfully unaware until the recent furore so there was no push to change anything from that side. To quite an extent, IMO, many were not just unaware but deliberately ignorant - many of us, techies like myself and active members of privacy groups, were aware and talking loudly about the issues but the majority didn't care because they didn't see how it might significantly affect them personally.

3. Commercial entities, even direct competitors, said nothing because they thought it better to try take a piece of the pie for themselves instead of sprinkling laxatives over someone else's and risk the pie shop being closed down. They are of course right now either being investigated too, or hurriedly making sure they were not (or that it can not be proven that they were) directly and knowingly culpable of the same things.

4. While there was no public or commercial push against what facebook and others were doing, the politicians had no interest. No point siring up potential commercial sponsors for their future funding drives unnecessarily...

They never got caught doing it. That doesn't mean they never have.

You've never been caught murdering anyone, I assume.

Not the second time, and that’s really the important part.

That we know of so far.

Maybe they didn't, but it's not like we know exactly what Google is doing with data.

Google wasn't ambiguous at all about how they manage location data.

It happens that I was working on the essay right as Cambridge Analytica was hitting the news.

Even if you don’t like what Google does vis a vis privacy (and I don’t) I think you’d have to completely agree with your assessment. Public congressional hearings are almost always political circuses, and you’re not going to “win” one of them. Congress needs to legislate the issue of privacy (something like GDPR would be nice) not do a piece of meaningless and self-serving theater.

nailed it

Not showing up here was the opposite of keeping a low profile though.

It's really not, because showing up at such a high-profile event makes it nearly impossible to return to obscurity. There are too many legitimate follow up issues that are impossible to ignore. Especially if something comes out later that is even a tiny bit in conflict with the testimony.

If this were chess, Page sacrificed a pawn for critical board control/position. It hurt, but Google is playing the long game.

This is the first article I came across that was about Google's absence. Every other article about the hearings talked about what Sandberg and Dorsey said.

> Facebook’s horrendous management of the issue

Part of that "horrendous management" involved sending surrogates to apologize instead of leaders. Google is repeating Facebook’s mistakes.

> From a PR point of view Google has handled this whole privacy debacle very well.

Yes, but only because Google allegedly aided the media's preferred candidate, while Facebook allegedly aided the candidate that was successful and that the media hated. Google not showing up means the media can sort of just sweep their behavior under the rug, which is good for Google's PR in the minds of Americans who supported the media's favorite candidate....but it's terrible PR for the other half of the country who voted for the other one and sees the bias. You're just not hearing about it much because most of the media leans the same direction Google as a company does.

Can you imagine if Mark Zuckerberg hadn't shown up? How big of a story that would have been in almost every single media outlet?

Google's only sliding under the radar because the media is helping them slide under the radar. I assure you if Google's policies had aided the winning candidate's campaign - intentionally or not - that would not be the case.

"The European Union fined the company $5.1 billion this summer in an antitrust case over the dominance of Google’s Android mobile operating system."

Damn, that's sloppy reporting. The EU didn't fine Google because of its dominance, rather it was accused of using that dominance in an abusive manner to advance the search/ad business [1].

[1] https://www.wsj.com/articles/google-to-be-fined-5-billion-by...

At this point, though, such a public-relations strategy feels dated. On balance, the celebrity of even the most caricatured CEO (Zuckerberg) appears to be a net positive for his company.

I disagree totally with that point. The "superstar CEO" Zuckerberg is now ridiculed, hated, and negatively "meme-ed". He is now the face of censorship (for some) and a laissezfaire strategy threatening democracies (for others).

Even the previous paragraph stated: "Bill Gates had become a media caricature during Microsoft Corp.’s three-year antitrust lawsuit".

Page staying in the dark only generated this one article, not a real national scandal. 99% of people don't know him and won't know him after that no-show. Google's reputation is untouched.

Only loss is for the Senators not getting the spotlight.

Bloomberg fail to acknowledge their clear bias: no news (Page absent) means fewer clicks. Regardless of whether the strategy is good or bad for Google, a high-profile Page generating lots of sightings and rumors and virtual stalking stories would be much better for the media.

I think you see this reality generating a lot of the pressure against the "lie low" strategy during scandals.

I'm always amazed about the amount of hatred directed at anyone who is in the public spotlight. There is a whole Internet mob out there, and it doesn't even matter where the fame comes from. If you're prominent in any way it seems that the best option is to seclude yourself and avoid the public. At least that's what I would do, I guess it's a personal preference in the end.

A large segment of the population is wrapped up in consuming celebrity culture. Most of us will never know or meet these people and have little reason to know the particulars of their lives but they are a marketable product due to human nature.

i agree, in this time of outrage culture, i don't know why anybody at the centre of any controversy gives it oxygen. anything you say is another story. some would say you need to get your point of view across but i'd say people have made up their mind anyway.

say nothing and the media and public move on to the next story.

The point of political discourse is never to change your opponent's mind, it's to sway the undecided people to align with you instead of them.

That's why it's so adversarial.

> The point of political discourse is never to change your opponent's mind, it's to sway the undecided people to align with you instead of them.

In the US, it's mostly not about that, either; it's about creating enthusiasm in those already aligned with you or dampening it in those aligned with your opponent.

(Pretending to try to sway the opposition but using arguments which primarily resonate with your base so it just makes your base more angry with the opposition for their obstinacy is a common tactic, here.)

> Page staying in the dark only generated this one article

Eh, it’s going to generate nasty side effects. Google spends a lot on lobbying. This kneecaps those efforts. That’s bad news for a host of broader issues, including net neutrality.

When has public attention ever been beneficial for corporate lobbying efforts?

When the thing they're lobbying for has broad public support.

The real loss is Senators no longer trusting Alphabet/Google after this snub.

You really don't want to turn the government against you.

> The real loss is Senators no longer trusting Alphabet/Google after this snub.

The Senators that wanted Larry or Sundar to voluntarily submit to and draw more media attention to their spectacle of abuse directed at the firm (and others in the industry) obviously didn't trust Google in the first place, and the rest know the game and aren't going to be effected by this except perhaps by realizing that Google's leadership isn't completely braindead politically.

There was no possible net upside for Google participating in the charade of a hearing, and the committee rejecting Google's offer of the most qualified person to address the substantive questions notionally at issue in response to the voluntary invitation for participation was an unmistakable signal that that was the case.

> You really don't want to turn the government against you.

You also don't want to voluntarily cooperate with the parts of the government that have already turned against you and are trying to scapegoat you to build support for policies hostile to your interests.

Law enforcement isn't the only part of government that can seemingly innocently invite you to talk with malign intent, and it's not the only part of government you should decline voluntary cooperation with when you don't have good reason to believe that the intent of the invitation is aligned with your interests.

Please. All that stuff happens behind the scenes anyway

Half of Congress is the House (and 80% by head count). They kind of enjoy seeing Senators get snubbed, since Senators so often personify the stereotype of arrogance.

I don’t understand people on here complaining about the Senate demanding that the leaders of a business answer for its actions. Sending your lawyer or an underling is (1) a show of disrespect, (2) it shows you’re not taking responsibility for your company, and (3) when the person answering the questions isn’t really in charge, they can’t answer properly and they can’t commit their companies to behaving differently.

People just seem propagandistically pro-Google on here. You’re mostly pretty darn smart people. I don’t get it.

Treating everyone except the CEO, including seasoned executives who are much more competent at answering trick legal questions, as "some underling" is itself petty political posturing.

Also, making commitments in the middle of a high-stress congressional hearing without taking time to think about it would be a terrible idea, which is why people don't do it.

I don't think it's pro-Google, I think it has to do with the fact that these hearings are made up of a gang of angry old people with God complex that not only do not understand technology, but don't really have a desire to understand it nor the desire to really change anything. I don't blame Google one bit for not wanting to waste time and be ridiculed by these clowns.

> these hearings are made up of a gang of angry old people with God complex that not only do not understand technology, but don't really have a desire to understand it nor the desire to really change anything.

Those angry old people were chosen by their constituents to represent them in public affairs. Supposedly their roles and their actions are the basis of a democratic regime.

What you wrote could easily be applied to Google.


> Sending your lawyer or an underling is (1) a show of disrespect, (2) it shows you’re not taking responsibility for your company, and (3) when the person answering the questions isn’t really in charge, they can’t answer properly and they can’t commit their companies to behaving differently.


"Kent Walker currently serves as Senior Vice President for Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer at Google"

"He served as an Assistant U.S. attorney with the United States Department of Justice and advised the US Attorney General on technology policy issues"

Google has more than 85,000 employees - with a good chunk of those being technical positions. And they take getting their employees to 'drink the kool-aid' very seriously. What percent of those employees do you think browse or post on hacker news?

I'm not suggesting the employees or Google are doing anything wrong but it's going to result in a visible bias that one should keep in mind.

See Zelphyr's comment just below yours (for the moment) at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17978894

It's a crap double standard that people fall over themselves to explain how CEOs deserve to get paid 1000x their employees because of how deeply and personally accountable they are for the success and behavior of their companies—yet shrug when they clearly eschew this role under a bit of pressure.

If you get paid the big bucks, you'd better be ready to face the music.

Google takes HN extremely seriously. They frequently respond quickly respond to complaints that make the front page. Given that it's not unreasonable to think that there are loads of Google employees on here looking to defend the company

I’d say google learned from Gates and Zuckerberg getting grandstanded at.

> I don’t understand people on here complaining about the Senate demanding that the leaders of a business answer for its actions.

The Senate didn't demand anything.

Some members of the Senate are just engaging in theatrical complaints about someone declining a voluntary invitation.

If they wanted to demand compliance, they have the power to do that. That they chose not to indicates their real view of the substantive importance more clearly than their fake drama does.

This is why I more or less stopped reading or watching the news. If something is important I will find out. If I want to understand the world better I will either read a book about a given subject, ask someone who knows something, explore it on my own or debate it with someone who holds the opposite view of me.

News especially these days is mostly sensationalist gossip made by people who's primary incentives is to get you to click their link or share it because you are outraged so they get more clicks.

I don't mind debating politics or other more problematic subjects but I don't get riled up by some article trying to paint the world in black and white, seen the other side of how the media is reporting something too many times.

If you want to have another example besides this weird can completely forced article look no further to the Elon Musk interview on Joe Rogan last which made their shares drop 8% for the day because he took one puff. Everyone went berserk because you are not supposed to do something like that if you are the CEO of a large company. Instead of actually listening to the interview which was almost 3 hours and super interesting, that puff became what the media took away from it. The media is no longer in the service of the people it's in the service of the clicks that's about it because it's much more fun to be outraged and gossip than to actually try and understand.

Each to their own of course but that's why I stopped following the news cycles. Now go and watch that great interview with Elon and while you are at it go watch Peter Thiel on Dave Rubin an equally great show that takes the time to unfold subjects even if that means three hour formats.

"Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day. The man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. He who reads nothing will still learn the great facts, and the details are all false."

It's kind of interesting how this feels like such a relatively new problem, yet that quote is from Thomas Jefferson, 1807.

Yeah, I don't think the problem is new it's just the consequences of the problem that are different.

> If you want to have another example besides this weird can completely forced article look no further to the Elon Musk interview on Joe Rogan last which made their shares drop 8% for the day because he took one puff. Everyone went berserk because you are not supposed to do something like that if you are the CEO of a large company. Instead of actually listening to the interview which was almost 3 hours and super interesting, that puff became what the media took away from it. The media is no longer in the service of the people it's in the service of the clicks that's about it because it's much more fun to be outraged and gossip than to actually try and understand.

It doesn’t matter though. Let them continue to waste their brain power on meaningless nonsense like “optics” or how something looks.

The rest of us will continue to learn and innovate. I learned a lot, especially about how an electric plane with VTOL works. Honestly, it was one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever watched in my life.

> The rest of us will continue to ~~learn and innovate~~ buy $tsla after silly controversies cause it to tank, and sell $tsla once everyone remembers they like money and it climbs again.

Google offered to send someone to the hearing, but the Senate didn't feel they were high ranking enough, so they didn't let the person fill the seat and let it remain "empty" even though Google offered.

Disgraceful grandstanding by Warner.

Can't blame him for not going. They tried to crucify Mark Zuckerberg on live broadcast last time.

One thing this article completely neglects to mention: Larry has vocal chord paralysis and so has difficulty speaking.


This could have something to do with why he's reluctant to do a lot of public speaking nowadays.

[UPDATE] I was wrong: the article does mention this, I just missed it. I would delete this comment but I can't since it has been replied to.

It mentions that several times.

>In the 1990s he was diagnosed with vocal cord paralysis, a nerve condition that eventually has made it difficult for him to speak above a hoarse whisper. “Sergey says I’m probably a better CEO because I choose my words more carefully,” Page wrote in a Google+ post in 2013, the same year he stopped joining earnings calls.

While it's true (sibling comments) that this is indeed mentioned in the article, it's well into the body, about two-thirds down. This strikes me as extremely relevant information: Page acts "as if [he] had only so many words left to speak." (ftfa)

Why would he waste his breath, if it's actually limited? The mistake here wasn't in Page not showing up--it was in _nobody_ showing up.

That's not on Google - as the article states, Google offered multiple other officials, but that was declined, they wanted Page or nothing and so got nothing.

This is mentioned multiple times in the article.

I'd wondered about this when I heard Google wasn't sending any of their top brass. In my experience, it's very out of character for Google's top leadership to not predict when people are going to be pissed off about a decision. And it was stupendously easy to tell that Congress would be pissed off by this decision - when I mentioned the news to my wife she was like "You can do that? Just stand up Congress?"

I'm reminded of Margaery Tyrell's line from the season 6 finale of Game of Thrones. "Cersei understands the consequences of her absence, and she is absent anyway, which means that she does not intend to suffer those consequences."

Lest we start panicking, I don't think that this necessarily means we're all going to die in a fireball of wildfyre (though that could happen anyway). But it's likely Google actually welcomes regulation, because it will entrench their position and serve as a barrier to any new competitors emerging. They know that neither the average Congressperson nor their constituents understand economics, and so will likely pass legislation that harms Google's unborn competitors far more than it harms Google.

Google tried to send their top lawyer, Kent Walker, but was rejected by the Senate [1] less than two weeks before the hearing.

[1] https://www.law.com/corpcounsel/2018/08/23/senate-intelligen...

Nitpick: Dave Drummond is, or at least was, Kent Walker's boss, board member and the top lawyer. He focused on business, though.

Kent Walker was the policy guy. Ironically, this article from six weeks ago makes the point that he's the new Eric Schmidt when it comes to governments:


I know, but they (and everyone else) has to know that sending their top lawyer would piss off Congress just as much.

I might be missing something here but my thinking is that Google Inc/Alphabet is bigger than Larry Page. If for whatever reason he was not able to attend he could have sent a representative chosen from among the senior executives. It seems that neither his attendance nor Google's participation in the whole thing was not mandatory

They offered their legal guy who is also one of the main leaders at Google and is probably the right person to talk about this but Congress refused. They want figureheads.

This is correct, they rejected anyone but top officials.


(Disclosure: I work at Google)

Of course they only wanted the senior flesh.

I'm not trying to dunk on Congress too hard, but so much of their public hearings are about the spectacle of gov officials holding "someone" accountable.

And it's bipartisan too, the spectacle.

The Dems were looking to further the Russia election manipulation spectacle, and I'd guess Repubs were hoping to advance their narratives of "shadowbanning" and ideological search results bias.

To be fair to Congress, their job is really to shape events in the public interest. Considering these hearings to be pure fact-finding is a category error. If they browbeat a celebrity, this shapes events in multiple ways: it affects fundraising, it affects the behavior of the individual browbeaten and those in this individual's orbit, it affects the public narrative, and if affects actions at the voting booth. And that is only the beginning. It is an extremely complicated game with numerous players and feedback loops. You can call it "grandstanding", as though it's purposeless and ineffectual, but obviously it isn't, and really this is their job. They want to speak to certain people because they calculate that this will give them leverage to shape events in a certain way.

This is how the sausage is made.

Certainly. One name for that for that entire phenomenon you're describing the functioning of is 'The Spectacle'.

I don't mean just the dictionary definition of spectacle, rather I'm referencing the Situationist + Critical Theory concept of The Spectacle. Guy Debord's "The Society of the Spectacle" is a wild piece of thought.

It's an absolute tome, but essentially society is now mediated by social relations of spectacle which are symbols / signs / abstractions of actual material relations. And like you're saying, politicians play a huge role in wielding spectacle towards their material goals. Some of this might seem strangely familiar / redundant but that just speaks to the impact Situationist thinking has had on our conception of society and culture.

Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle (Paris, 1967). http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/debord/1.htm

Hey, at least one of you in this thread is disclosing your employment with Google as you criticize the Government for demanding answers from your employer's top executives on matters of Foreign actors threatening our Democracy.

Which should tell folks what kind of hearing this was.

No need to guess. You can look at the treatment Jack and Sheryl received. A bunch of ignorant, annoyed blowhards basically talked at them for a few hours, accomplishing nothing and expanding the pool of useful knowledge exactly zero.

> A bunch of ignorant, annoyed blowhards...

The very ones that the citizens _voted_ for.

The citizens might be idiots, or the human social system might be so broken such that no matter who you vote for they are game-theoretically forced to behave this way. Whatever the case may be, I don't blame Page for declining to inflict that experience on himself.

It makes sense to get the person at the top. They are ultimately responsible/accountable for things. They are well prepared in advance so why not go for them?

> It makes sense to get the person at the top. They are ultimately responsible/accountable for things. They are well prepared in advance so why not go for them?

What's the point? Is anyone actually responsible/accountable? Did anything change at Wells Fargo? Equifax?

Wells Fargo blackballed employees who make $35k a year. The CEO testified in Congress and took his golden parachute.

I am trying to understand what responsibility and accountability mean.


Previously on HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12696494

> Did anything change at Wells Fargo?

Wells Fargo is under direct supervision of the Federal Reserve, and is locked into a growth ban, because of what it did. They've also paid billions of dollars in fines so far, with more coming.

> The [Wells Fargo] CEO testified in Congress and took his golden parachute.

You're making that up. There was no golden parachute, their CEO forfeited nearly all of his compensation for 2016 and was forced out of the company without severence or golden parachute.

"Wells Fargo CEO Stumpf to forfeit $41 million in unvested equity amid independent probe"

"The bank also said on Tuesday that Carrie Tolstedt, the former head of the community banking division, had left the company and would not receive a severance payment. She forfeited about $19 million in outstanding unvested equity awards"


That's not how it works. When they called Wells Fargo to testify, they didn't allow them to send a risk or compliance officer; they subpoena'd Tim Sloan, the CEO of the bank.

> They offered their legal guy who is also one of the main leaders at Google and is probably the right person to talk about this but Congress refused. They want figureheads.

Why is this a problem? The CEO is the public face of the company. If Congress wants to question the company about serious issues, it shouldn't settle for a little-known subordinate who has much less authority or accountability for the decisions Congress wants to ask about.

> Why is this a problem?

It's not a problem other than the fact that it is a clear signal that the purpose of the invitation is public spectacle, not soliciting testimony whose content had a substantive legislative purpose.

Another clear signal of that is the use of invitations rather than subpoenas, followed by dramatic complaints about the invitation being declined when the person best able to address the substance (though less attractive as a PR punching bag) was offered.

Another clear signal of that is the empty chair theatrics.

And if people learned to recognize these signals of unseriousness, then unserious approaches will become less effective, and if Congress wants to be seen to be addressing an issue, they’ll need to actually seriously address it.

That and also they learnt their lesson: first Facebook hearings were very frustrating when all they heard was: “I dont know answer to this questio, and I will ask Mr. Zickerberg [when I see him next time] and will let you know [when in reality I will never see you again because if FB is ever invited again we will send another top exec]”.

I for once appload congressmen/women for not falling for this sinple trick again.

Okay...so they didn't fall that trick...but I get the impression that all they want is the opportunity to grill the top executive. The best that can happen is that said executive will apologize, prostrate, etc and the show goes on...

> but I get the impression that all they want is the opportunity to grill the top executive

Of that's all they wanted, they'd issue a subpoena for the top executive. That removes choice.

What they want is, in order of preference:

(1) Both ritual validation of the legitimacy of their efforts via the voluntary participation of top executives combined with the increased media attention for their showboating that comes with having the top executive in the hot seat, or, failing that

(2) The opportunity to showboat about the firms decision not to send the top executive.

If they were interested in substance, they would accept the firm sending the most appropriate person to address the actual issue, and if they felt the offered person wasn't the right person, they'd issue subpoenas to compel the testimony of the people who are really needed. But substantive answers aren't what the hearing is about.

> They want figureheads.

They also want to to get either the ritual validation of voluntary submission or the opportunity for theatrical (but fundamentally dishonest) complaint about non-compliance; if it was really important to have the specific witnesses there, they would forgo both and issue compulsory legislative subpoenas, which is fully within their power.

By not doing so, they are, in fact, saying they don't consider the testimony of the invited witness all that important to the legislative function, so the theatrics around the decision not to accept the voluntary invitation are clearly unwarranted.

Agreed. It feels like this is two separate stories really.

Maybe Larry Page is a recluse, an eccentric, a technical thinker, a background figure, or however you want to describe him. I can understand why someone who started out writing a search engine in their garage might not be the type who feels comfortable doing public speaking in front of the Senate.

But we should disconnect the man from the company. Google certainly does need to be held to account, and does need to answer these questions, both to the public and to governments. At best, it's an organizational failure of Google to not allocate someone from upper management on this - it should really be Pichai, who is really the day-to-day boss at Google. At worst it's a deliberate act of the company to avoid questioning.

The attention shouldn't be directed at one man not showing up to answer questions, but the huge company who doesn't feel that it's necessary to send any of it's senior management to answer these questions.

Edit: Seems that Google did offer to send a senior legal executive, and the senate refused them. Point still stands that we need to separate the company from the man, but perhaps the senate is just as focused on the "big names" as the media.

> Seems that Google did offer to send a senior legal executive, and the senate refused them.

This just goes to show how much of a charade these hearings are.

> This just goes to show how much of a charade these hearings are.

Literally no one in the public is going to pay attention or give a shit about hearings where Congress questions lower level executives with little to no decision-making authority.

It's not a charade to want to question the one guy in the company who unquestionably has authority over whatever decisions Congress wants to ask about. If you think they should settle for talking to a new exec with no authority, why not expect them to settle for talking to an intern reading prepared statements?

They are looking for information, they should question the person who can answer those the best. They are not compelling the company to make any decisions/changes and if they were it would be through legal action anyways, not talking to a CEO.

This is pure grandstanding for the purpose of public spectacle. Good on Page for telling them where to stuff it. If congress wants to take these issues seriously they should drop the politics and show and start being serious.

> They are looking for information, they should question the person who can answer those the best.

I disagree. Calling the CEO to testify puts the chief decision-maker on notice that these are issues he needs to focus on. Settling for a minor executive won't have the same influence on the CEO. Secondly, a minor executive has much more ability to dodge and evade, since he can legitimately claim "this isn't my area," "wasn't my decision," etc. Also, like I said before, settling for interviewing minor players doesn't attract the public's attention to the issue.

> If congress wants to take these issues seriously they should drop the politics

Congress is politics. It's not some technocratic regulatory body. Engaging in politics is literally the primary job of congressmen.

I'd refuse to attend any meeting where the sole reason for my presence was for others to play politics. It's like the senators are wheeling out their prized horses for others to gawk at. It's ridiculous.

According to the article they did offer to send someone else. Presumable the senate was not satisfied with anyone other than the top guy.

They would've accepted either Sundar Pichai, or I believe even Eric Schmidt, who is now just a "technical advisor" but was the former CEO of Google, and former executive chairman of both Google and Alphabet, would've been acceptable as well.

Kent Walker doesn't make decisions about how Google conducts business, Kent's job is to whitewash it for public consumption. I believe his current title is "Vice President of Global Affairs", which is more or less a PR title, and of course, as others have noted, he's their head lawyer.

Anyone can look up Kent's numerous writings on Google's Public Policy blog, the Senate wanted to speak to the people who actually make those decisions, not just be informed what the decisions are.

They did seem to find Sandberg acceptable.

Sandberg is COO, on the board, and with Facebook for over 10 years. She's most definitely top level.

Google offered Walker, who was just promoted to the position back in July, and has no operational control over the company.

Kent Walker has been at Google since 2006, has testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee before[0], and just knows a lot about Google.

[0] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/11/01/fo...

Yes, but only promoted recently, and has more of an advisory role than a leadership one. Certainly a talented guy, but not comparable to Sandberg or Dorsey.

You have no idea. Whether it's about GDPR, the Google Books lawsuit, surveillance reform, relationships with China or whatever else the policy issue of the day might be, Kent Walker was involved. He's not a leader? He has hundreds of people under him. Your "only promoted recently" makes it sound like he's a small potato. He's been around for a long time. When Google wasn't even born, at Netscape he gave JWZ the bad news about Microsoft and bad-attitude in the antitrust lawsuit (https://www.jwz.org/gruntle/rbarip.html).

Source: I used to work at Google. I would have asked Kent a policy question well before Larry or Sergey.

Kent Walker had a leadership role back when I was hired at Google, which was nearly a decade ago. Titles don't necessarily mean all that much - he's been handling high-level legal issues (including dealing with governments) for over a decade.

I would feel much better about being a google user if they were standing up strongly for the original "do no evil" ethos. Where is Page indeed? It really seems like the ethical stance has faded away.

Idealism goes away once a company has reached a certain size and has to reach for big growth like Google. They all have to turn into big faceless corporations.

That's why we shouldn't celebrate things like trillion dollar companies or the richest man in the world but we should celebrate small companies. That's where ethics and also innovation can happen .

Or maybe this is largely a manufactured issue. Alphabet sent Walker, but the committee didn't allow him to sit down. Between him and Salgado, the experts that Page and Pichai defer to, I don't think there's anyone better qualified to talk about these issues, because they deal with them all the time. If you want to have a meaningful conversation, that is. The problem is that the hearing was mostly an excuse for the senators to posture and to go on off topic rants about pet peeves. It's a media event, not a venue to get anything of substance done. Page has little tolerance for such BS.

While the senators' whining was to be expected, because it largely called their bluff, I was more disappointed by the media's acceptance of the lines that Walker was not the right person to be there and that he was "a lawyer" (should we send home all politicians with a law degree?). These are policy issues, so you talk to the experts and leaders who make the policy calls.

Big companies are just successful small companies.

IBM, Bell Labs etc. did far more innovation than any Mom and Pop shop.

> Big companies are just successful small companies.

That would imply either that big companies all started as small companies which became successful and grew large, which is false (some big companies start big). Or that big companies operate the same way as small companies, just at a larger scale, which is unequivocally false.

Successful at what? "Mom and Pop" shops are totally different and provide for their small communities in ways no big company ever could. Individuals like Alexandra Elbakyan, Bram Moolenaar, and Guido van Rossum have done great things on their own without the help of corporations.

I'm no fan of big companies, but I feel we need both big and small companies. Mom and Pop shops can never tackle huge infrastructure projects or projects that require intense capital (space etc).

That said, celebrating billionaires (many of whom trampled on others to get there) leaves a bad taste.

I wish we had more cooperatives...

I don't think this is not so much a property of the big company than it is of the public company. The only thing which generally unites public investors is a desire to see a positive return on their investment, typically with a high aversion to risk.

I would argue there is something to be celebrated about the "richest man in the world". Large private investors are more accountable than the public, and can act on ideologies or intentions other than greed (for better or worse).

I always felt that "don't be evil" is a shallow and effectively vacuous feel-good slogan because they never spelled out what it means for them not to be evil, which I think is a completely non-trivial question.

I always felt it was a bit like that old saw about not knowing how to define porn, but "I know when I see it." I took it as the broadest possible encouragement to Do The Right Thing as you see fit instead of spending a lot of time second-guessing what corporate would think.

-- disclaimer: never worked there

Google is the biggest media company in the world and with that comes political power and political pressure. Larry and Sergey are probably really sick of that problem and just want to make everyone putting pressure on them happy enough so they can focus on the tech stuff. Part of that strategy is keeping a low profile even though it is impossible in their position.

Avoiding the cameras is the best way for Page & Co to escape politically dangerous questions like "Isn't Google actively censoring queries and web content in China?" and "Where else is Google doing this? In India? In the UK? In the USA?"

I can see why Google sent a lawyer instead of Page.

It was never “do no evil”. It was “don’t be evil”. There is a rather important semantic difference. Regardless, that ethical stance still exists and informs decisions.

They removed the ~"do no evil"~ " Don't be evil" from the preface of Google corporate code of conduct April 2018.

They have "don't be evil" in a last sentence: "And remember… don't be evil, and if you see something that you think isn't right – speak up!". It's directed towards the Google employers as individuals, not for the corporation.

It was always "don't be evil" [1]

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don%27t_be_evil

> The vision was to stretch this tube system, arced hundreds of feet in the air, from a ground-level entry point on Google’s Mountain View campus to an exit 35 miles north, in San Francisco, so Google’s rainbow-colored beach cruisers might one day be seen flying over U.S. Highway 101. Yes, it sounds like a Hyperloop for bikes.

And you're telling me this ran into problems!?

Disclosure: I didn't fully read the article as it's rather dull... "404 - Page not found", doesn't Bloomberg have more niveau than that?

It's known that Page has problems with his vocal chords. So I wouldn't be astonished that he doesn't show up for a hearing if he's not forced to so.

I could totally understand that in a vacuum, but Google also chose not to send Sundar Pichai, Google's current CEO, whose vocal chords work just fine. Which sends a much stronger message that Google just doesn't want to talk to Congress.

My personal impression of Page and Brin's near silence of late is that they have semi-retired by effectively promoting themselves out of Google during the creation of Alphabet. Still on top, still in charge, but having delegated pretty much everything down to a lower level.

Benioff is in the process of doing the same. None of these people have any desire to run Ops for a giant corporation. They want to focus on the stuff they like. For Page, it’s the tech. For Benioff, it’s the philanthropy, social responsibility, equality, political stuff.

I like him giving the the middle finger. Why does he have to satisfy a bunch of egomaniac corrupt politician who has been net negative for the society. Why we have to watch in awe of their complete disconnect from current affairs of the society due to their total ignorance?

You could say the same about any CEO of a large company. They are also egomaniacs who are disconnected from current affairs of society.

Agree, some are truly like that.

My comment, which is nothing but a rant was against the senate hearing, and the way it is conducted. It is nothing but a circus to make believe the public that senators are acting for the benefit of the public. Far from it, they just serve to certain interests. What I do not like is that they are just putting a show, and what they do is showmanship. Oh they make all those CEOs behave like a little school boy, right?!. Sweating in front of the principal, nice! How about themselves? For Iraq to be invaded these people needed to approve it. Now we know that all the evidence was bogus. Have we seen any such hearing on them? Any remorse, and resignation? They are flashing light to blind you. This is not democracy. That’s all I have to say.

I agree, questions like: "Mr Page, have your organization used computer software to track citizen's activities?" would lead nowhere.



Dorsey is also running Square, and has to go to DC to answer questions about shadowbanning Twitter users?

That is the most pressing issue of our democracy?

Don't worry about college or healthcare costs when Twitter users are being 'unfairly' shadowbanned?

I don't think the Senate Intelligence Committee handles matters related to college or healthcare costs.

Because as a voter and citizen, I want my politicians keeping Google and other tech companies in check, and regulate them if necessary.

Are you sure they are your politicians and have any of your interests in mind?

They're closer to my interests then those running large tech companies.

I care about my privacy more than free Facebook and Gmail, and continue to evangelize GDPR style legislation with US legislators.

When you start your argument by comparing company CEOs to politicians you are already lost it.

Perhaps. Politicians are far more powerful than CEOs, and have the ability to breakup companies or prohibit their operation.

because those egomaniac, corrupt politician are elected, representatives of people living in and participating in a democratic republic. They of all people should be able to question citizens of this country.

If you have enough money you can even elect a monkey for any office. It’ll be news to you maybe but that has happened already.

>I like him giving the the middle finger. Why does he have to satisfy a bunch of egomaniac corrupt politician who has been net negative for the society. Why we have to watch in awe of their complete disconnect from current affairs of the society due to their total ignorance?

So, what's your opinion of democracy? It doesn't seem like you care for it that much.

I believe in rule of law that applies to all, ideally equally. That's step #1 for democracy. Democracy is a process that involves me in the decision making. That’s it, very simple. I just do not see that is happening nor they have the slightest interest in doing so.

I don't know, if I were a billionaire with a private island in the Caribbean, had paralyzed vocal cords and knew damn well what would happen at the hearing (see Zuckerberg), I'd also agree with my colleagues that showing up would do no good and that staying on the sidelines would be the best course of action. Why indulge a bunch of bloodthirsty politicians when you can do pretty much anything else please like working on things you love. Bonus: stock won't tank if you slip up and say the wrong word.

It is interesting that Larry Page stays out of the spotlight so much. Everyone knows who Mark Zuckerberg is, but many probably couldn't tell you who the CEO of Google/Alphabet is.

I think part of that is our collective fascination of young self made *illionaires, as well as the more personal interactions a user has with Facebook vs Google. Heck, I bet more people are aware of Tom from Myspace, than they are of Larry Page or Sergey Brin.

Larry Page made his first million by 25. I can't find info about when Sergey Brin made his first million, but probably not far off from that. They definitely count as young self-made millionaires.

Same time - they have equal shares in Google. "First million" probably refers to Google's first angel investment, which set a valuation on the company of maybe $10M and valued each founder's shares at probably $3-4M (I'm guessing on valuation, but this would be typical for an angel investment of $700K for a company this far along. Possibly a bit higher).

It doesn't hurt that the Zuck was the focus of a popular film.

But could we not flip that around? That is, Zuck goes for the limelight (why?) while his peers do not?

On the other hand Dorsey isn't low profile and I don't think most (non-tech) people would recognize him. Ev Williams? Even less so.

Prehaps, sometimes, it's also the media who makes or breaks public perceptions?

Facebook got "The Social Network", Google got..."The Internship"?

How many twitter movies have been made? The facebook movie pushed his platform higher.

I imagine if you asked most people who the CEO of Alphabet is, they'd ask "What's Alphabet?"

I mention this on a somewhat regular basis. Most people know nothing about Sundar while they will bring up Zuck all the time. It's odd how different the two organizations operate at the top.

Sundar isn't a founder and most will forget his name when he moves on if they ever knew.

Tim Cook is more well known but will never reach Steve.

wozniak I hope

I think everyone knows "The Google Guys" without knowing either of them.

Larry Page probably didn't attend the Senate hearings because he knew that this video was going to get leaked:


He would have been grilled for hours over it.

That video is amazing. Certainly doesn't hurt Damore's suit.

edit: To all the silent salties out there: am I wrong?

At the risk of sounding partisan, why should I trust a breitbart dot com link?

You shouldn't. It's an internal Google video. So unless you're a conspiracy theorist who thinks it was faked, it should be eye opening.

its just an unedited video. Just watch it if you care at all.

He could have been grilled, sure. But I don't think that was the reason as Google was arranging someone else to show up before this leaked.

Nothing in this video is surprising though. It has always been clear that the value system of people in Silicon Valley is completely different from Republican values. Their despise for Trump or his base is the most obvious connection anyone can make.

> “What I didn’t see in the last year was a strong central voice about how [Google’s] going to operate on these issues that are societal and less technical,”

That's not careful phrasing when talking about a man with paralysed vocal chords.

This sounds like being offended purely for the purpose of being offended. I doubt even the subject of the article himself would have caught that.

> According to one Larry loyalist, Page’s privacy, besides being a personal preference, is also a carefully considered company strategy.

That's gold, given the fact that his company has set out to completely destroy the concept of privacy for the rest of the population.

I can honestly see him being withdrawn as just not caring or not wanting to be apart of the company or the culture. He shows up every know and then again just to keep his standing. He can reap the financial stability it offers and still work on his moonshots or other pet projects.

I know a lot of college buddies who were some of the smartest people I knew. When they hit their 30's, they just had enough of the go go go lifestyle and they suddenly wanted to be alone and just enjoy life either by themselves or with a very small group of special friends.

I can see Larry being like this. He just wants to be by himself and out of the spotlight.

> Alphabet said in a statement that it had offered its head of global affairs for the hearing and that “enabling Larry to focus on the other bets and long-term technical problems is exactly what Alphabet was set up for.”

So basically they had offered someone of authority here, but the politicians wanted to have their show trial with the celebrities instead.

In the domain of information warfare and propaganda campaigns public awareness and attention is a large part of the counter strategy. So even if it were just to attract eyeballs to the issue that doesn't mean it was a "show trial".

If you watch these Intelligence Committee hearings I think you'll find them to be focused on strategy, partnerships, and actions rather than some form of "trial".

Then they should have invited the actual experts on the topic at these companies. Google, again, says they offered someone to speak and were told it could only be Page. What if they told Facebook it could only be Mark and not Sheryl?

Either way, if they actually wanted the CEO of Google, that happens to be Sundar Pichai, not Larry Page (he's the CEO of the holding company).

I was under the understanding that they asked for either Page or Pichai.

And Google basically responded with "it's either our legal team or nothing".

It is interesting they had "GOOGLE" printed on the reserved seat. Where in reality Sundar Pichai is the ceo of Google and Larry Page is the ceo of Alphabet. So the Senate committee was actually expecting Mr. Pichai and Bloomberg got it wrong.

> It is interesting they had "GOOGLE" printed on the reserved seat. Where in reality Sundar Pichai is the ceo of Google and Larry Page is the ceo of Alphabet. So the Senate committee was actually expecting Mr. Pichai and Bloomberg got it wrong.

But only technically. Google is Alphabet and Alphabet is Google, just like Blackwater is still Blackwater no matter what obfuscating name they're using this week.

I don't see why this would be smart move for Google/Larry Page at all. If He goes, either he will fail, which would be disaster similar to Facebook for Google, or he will come out clean, which wouldn't change anything. The majority are still going to use google products regardless of public image, so not going best maintains that image.

Who are these guys thinking they can make anyone show up and get grilled by a bunch of politicians looking to score some easy points? That’s offensive. That Dorsey and Sandberg showed up shows that they are desperate for attention or approval. God Bless America where the government can’t force you to waste your valuable time talking to Marco Rubio.

Doing the smart thing and retiring?

Theres not much that can be said about communication online. Its going to be terrible, even without VC money thrown at it.

This isn't hyperbole, its just history - even with the first ever online game, back in the text days, the first griefer existed. In old forums, we had eternal september.

Communication online is just hacking the human brain more efficiently.

It was worth reading the fine article just to see this fibbed screenshot of a common error message:


> Image text: 404 Page not found

Long before the hearing Google said they would send Kent Walker to answer questions. He was not allowed to attend the hearing, in order to create the stunt of an empty chair.

Bloomberg I’m disappointed.

Isn't he building Ava robot on his remote island?

Didn't know he was missing till now. Maybe he is just doing some heads down work and letter another person take media duties.

What if Google knew through data-mining what the Congress was up to and thus didn't send Page to the hearing. ;-)


> He was also averse to the internal politics common to running a 60,000-employee conglomerate. A former senior director at Google remembers a heated debate among the “L Team,” as Googlers used to call Page’s circle of executive consiglieri, that escalated to a point where it required his mediation. “Can’t you sort this out on your own?” he told his deputies.

> The company’s abrupt reorganization in 2015 elevated Pichai to CEO of Google and Page to chief of its umbrella company, Alphabet. It was perhaps the cleverest retirement plan ever devised.

At this rate, I can see Mr. Page being the rich (evil?) guy from the movies that no one ever sees or has heard from in decades, and everyone is scared of. He will pull up in a limousine, slip you a piece of paper (with bad news on it) out of a crack in the window, and drive off again.

In all seriousness he probably didn't show because he was offended they'd make him. He has been a large proponent of perfect data preventing crime and maintaining society and is very cooperative with the IC.

Elon Musk interview on Joe Rogan last which made their shares drop 8% for the day because he took one puff. Everyone went berserk because you are not supposed to do something like that if you are the CEO of a large company.

The stock dropped because the CAO departed less than a month after starting at Telsa. Not because of the puff of marijuana.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17979743 and marked it off-topic.

I don’t think that’s actually true though it’s been repeated a lot - people have left without that large of a crash (and in this case it looks like they joined to help with going private so it’s not a huge surprise they left).

The fast crashes seem more related to stupid media freak outs - similar to FB and the Cambridge Analytica thing.

I don't think it's reasonable to disregard any meaningful explanation just to keep pushing a baseless assertion.

Tesla's finances are a perenial source of concern and if Tesla's chief accounting officer leaves the company in the middle of another row regarding Tesla's financial health, I really doubt a puff is capable of raising more concerns.

I think you underestimate how many market moves are because of stupid overreactions to news events.

Ultimately though the true cause of these moves can't really be known so reasonable people can draw different conclusions.

I don't see Cambridge Analytica as a "stupid media freak out", it exposed a concerning and far reaching privacy issue with the Facebook platform.

Concerns about Tesla's solvency have been building for months. The departure of several high-level executives is a big concern and what moved markets. It might signal that people are jumping ship.

The details of the Cambridge Analytica piece (as I understand them) were that a third party violated the terms of service and grabbed more data than they should have from friends of users that filled out a survey.

Facebook had since restricted access to the API to prevent this terms of service violation a few years ago, but it was after Cambridge Analytica had already engaged in their bad behavior.

The news was largely that a bad actor did a bad thing and FB had already locked down the API to prevent this a couple years ago, though in the news the details around this were mostly incoherent. The market reaction was a massive crash.

It's probably worth Facebook focusing on bad actors more explicitly (which they're doing now with their focus on integrity teams), but the reaction to the CA news was disproportionate - even on HN. The market moves during sensational media stories seem to be an easy place to make money, I think this is where it's similar to the pot smoking CEO overreaction.

I am unconvinced about that.

If it was the case that CA actually was able to do the things the media claimed they didn and affect people like that, FB would be in an even better position to affect people which means FB shares should have risen not fallen.

We do not live in the world created by the media about the capabilities of CA not even close.

But as they say. The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent. That irrationality is further fueld by the medias attempt to dumb down things IMO.

I don't think it was about CA capabilities per se, but the privacy blowback which followed.

The issue became mainstream and gave rise to the "Delete Facebook" movement which regular folks as well as celebrities[1] piled onto. It's fair to discuss the faddish nature of the #delete movements, but I don't see any positive angle in it for FB.

It also forced FB to overhaul their platform, most notably applying larger restrictions[2] to the amount of data available via APIs. This wasn't grandstanding, it cut revenue streams for many advertising and data companies. I'm not sure this had a direct effect on FB's revenue, but indirectly it makes FB less attractive as a platform for hyper-targeted advertising. This can eventually lead to a lower ROI on FB ads vs. other channels and thus, lower share of a marketing budget.

[1] https://variety.com/2018/digital/news/will-ferrell-delete-fa...

[2] https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/04/facebook-instagram-api-shu...

I don't think I agree.

This wasn't anything new for most people who knew just a little bit about how FB worked for 3rd parties.

What changed was Trump. Had this been Hillary we wouldn't been talking about it at all and I am pretty sure FB wouldn't have been called to the hearing.

So I would say it's mostly a media driven thing but of course don't have any final proof. Just pretty sure it wasn't the privacy part that was the problem but rather Trump.

I think we're talking past each other a bit.

I responded to someone drawing similarities between Cambridge Analytica and Elon Musk's joint toke, claiming both were examples of "stupid media freakouts" which caused a drop in the stock price of their respective companies.

I think those 2 media events are very different from each other and have very different consequences for their respective companies. I might be proven wrong though if Musk is brought to task in front of a senate committee for his pot-smoking ways.

I agree with you that Trump's election may have made it more likely that Cambridge Analytica became a big deal in the public eye. There's more controversy to fuel media frenzy if the person who got elected is seen to have unjustly ascended the throne.

Normally I would say let's look at thing that matter, however Tesla stock always was a hype animal. Thus what affects it most are big splashy news.

I don't think that was the only reason and since it came back up that still shows there is an issue with how the media drives stock.

Not that there is anything new about that observation, that's how it's always been but the puff was literally everywhere and in combination with the leaving I am fairly certain it had an impact since it's now back up again.

I don't know whether that's true or not, but I'll add that his appearance on Joe Rogan also made him look rather...unhinged, or very stressed out, or on some sort of drugs. There was nothing extremely troubling, but it certainly didn't paint the picture you would expect of someone running multiple large fast-moving public companies.

the guy who invented Perl? ..probably trying to figure out what a script he wrote a few years ago actually does ;)

That's Larry Wall

Very funny indeed. NOT

I wonder if he's been diagnosed with something that could potentially be terminal if it goes uncured (e.g. aggressive cancer) and he's trying to keep it a secret so that Alphabet's stock price isn't severely damaged

EDIT I'm not sure why this is receiving so many downvotes. Is it that unlikely? I'm not saying I want him to be sick, it's just speculation.

Or maybe he's on a secret spy mission to another planet!

Well, the FBI just closed down the NM solar observatory for Page to communicate with aliens.

To your point, a few weeks ago someone pointed out to me that Rupert Murdoch hadn't been seen in public in a very long time. There were - still are? - theories that he was very ill or perhaps dead and it was being kept secret for the sake of the stock price and awaiting sale / deal.

To be fair, the government heavily relies on the data Google collects... I highly doubt the consequences are going to be too dire for them.

On the other hand, it does appear as if Google (and many of the other mega-corps) are pretty much acting as if they are sovereign in their own right. In this case, it appears Page honestly just ditched it, but if he gets away with it - he sets a precedent.

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