"I made the choice after the heads of my department branded me with a kind of scarlet letter that makes it difficult to do my job or find another one. If I stayed, I didn’t just worry that there’d be more public flogging, shunning, and stress, I expected it."
... are the next two sentences, and sounds like this weighed on her just as heavily as a pending childbirth.
A company this large is bound to have employee conflicts all over the place and it is up to their HR system to resolve it. If they cannot to the employee's liking then they should move on. We only see one side of a story here and the company certainly is not permitted to dump the results of the investigation into the public forum.
Arbitrary decisions about who should and not should be regulated are inane. They are the field day work of politicians who rely on jealously, fear, uncertainty, and doubt, to get you to empower them over more facets of your life. They exploit and exaggerate issues by repeating them over and over, enlist PACs to do the same, the Press, and more, until you believe the issue is insurmountable without their intervention.
Yes the person who is quitting had a rotten time, it does not mean everyone else there had the same experience. If it was that bad up and down the chain surely it would be out in news by now
You say that as if the author of Android should be given no compensation for making Google billions of dollars. While that may feel like justice, it would absolutely guarantee that nobody brings their open source project to Google ever again.
Whether or not these reputations are deserved is irrelevant, it seems like Google will have to do a lot of damage to its reputation before labor market forces push back. More meat for the grinder!
(As a side note, as I've gotten older I've noticed that every fresh batch of graduates who come into the workforce are equally terrible at advocating for themselves. There's a never-ending supply, and a never-ending task of educating/empowering workers.)
cough the problem is further up the pipeline cough.
I definitely think this skill shouldn’t be tied to university.
Not sure employee representation on the board is a solution to anything. Not that I think it's necessarily a bad thing either. It's just that if you're looking to that as a solution to the problem of big companies that are too big I think you will be disappointed. Employees on the board can be as corrupt and unaccountable as anyone else.
The solution to Google is to stop using their products. Stop using Android, stop using search, stop using Chrome, ditch as much of the ecosystem as possible. It makes a difference even if you can't get away from them completely and it starts with the individual.
There are too many people bitching about Google and still using their products. Hit them where it hurts because it's the only way they will learn. Before Google was evil Microsoft was evil. Antitrust largely failed against them. It took the early adopters being completely fed up with them and using other products to make a difference. Microsoft missed out on mobile, nearly missed out on cloud, ceded a massive chunk of the server market to Linux, saw a resurgence of Mac on the desktop, had their own failures in the OS market and were basically washed up before they finally decided to do something different. Frankly, they are doing a pretty darn good job lately. They are making good products and embracing interoperability.
I think Microsoft is a better company today than they would have been had the antitrust case been more "successful". We put up with their crap for as long as we did only because there weren't very good alternatives for much of that time. Ironically, the rise of Google helped break the stranglehold. Google doesn't have the same invincibility that Microsoft did. There are alternatives for every product they have. If we want them to change then it's time to start using these alternatives.
Another problem is that Google has contracts with the government, which belongs to us, so actually we do have a say if our taxes directly fund them. Also there are many companies they have deals with or that use services of theirs, many of which we won't know of the partnership. You are essentially asking for a globally coordinated boycott. But their service is so fundamental that you will find few people giving up the products because they can't. I've had my Gmail account since Gmail came out as invite only when you had to send those links. Too many of my accounts are linked to it and too many people know that's a for sure thing to contact me by. Samsung runs on android and there are other companies and developers that have built businesses around android or Google services. You aren't going to see these companies or individuals, sad as it is, make the pivot away for moral reasons. In some cases sure it's just tedious and annoying, like mine, to change but in other cases it's too much of a cost and risk.
I think the easiest way as I have mentioned in other posts is to break Google up, and other too big to fail/drop tech companies as well. We do it with other types of companies but I think the problem is legislators consider all tech companies as equal competitors to one another. Just because I can make a search engine doesn't mean Google has meaningful competition. I say break them up and let real competition dictate what society wants from them.
And if the vast majority don’t give a shit about privacy and actually like what these companies have to offer then who are we to say the rules need to change? Google is as big as they are because they make things a shitload of people want. We are in the minority. As long as we can largely avoid doing business with these companies and there’s someone else who serves us then what’s the big deal? Go use something else.
Apple hardware specifically only works with Apple stuff for example. Microsoft back in the day was getting all sorts of crap for not allowing removal of of IE and other anti competitive practices. But today we see whole business built up around even more egregious anti-competitive practices. That's not competition that's literally a new market. I think that what has happened is that tech has exploded so rapidly and our congressional members (in the US) so out of touch with the tech industry that many of these companies operate mostly unhindered. This is a new age where thoughts can be typed up on a computer and the very next day you can start defining the future. Just look at bitcoin, barely 10 years old and already as the market cap of a small nation's GDP.
When a company's actions directly impact the well being of a nation, either economically, physically, socially, or politically, it is the government's job to step in and ensure that the best course of action is taken to protect citizens. We setup farming subsidies to ensure predictable quantities of food are available for the population at predictable prices. When oil and steel were vital for our nations growth, we broke them up and invented laws to ensure that no single entity could influence the health of the nation. I happen to believe we just need to break them up. They have enough products that each can become their own companies. Now I might be wrong, this is kind of a new situation, but we do have to do something, I think that is pretty clear. But I don't think normal market forces will fix this by itself.
I do agree with what you are getting at though, it is messy and there are a lot of unknowns. What I don't agree with though is that it can just be ignored by switching to another product or service and it will go away.
Why not legislation? It’s THE way for organizing our society. Do you really think it’s a free market and meritocracy? No. There are laws that incentivize and offer protection for starting corporations.
Our society is not built on objective principles but on what’s good for it. And it’s never lurched forward in ways that move the needle to the benefit of the masses without top down rejiggering.
Here’s an objective fact: neoliberalism and so-called free market capitalism are not owed deference and fealty by the masses. Either it works well enough for enough people or it encounters a tipping point where it needs dramatic change in guiding principles.
What you’re arguing for is not increased freedom for the masses an accountability, but sitting still politically. Same old same old. How’s that working out?
Pretty well for the privileged crowd on HN. Better not mess with it!
People need to stop with the excuses and the expectation that someone else will change the rules to fix their problem and be the change they want to see in the world. Google will eventually be displaced by someone else who does a better job just like every other toxic company that came before them. Anybody can do it. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft all started (and in some cases reinvented themselves) that way. And if the newcomer sticks around long enough they'll probably become toxic too. It's the way the world works.
We don't need legislation to fix this. We need someone to do a better job. They're not out killing people. Just stop using their shit.
Do you really think they can function? Even if they switch to Apple they still have to interface with calendar and gmail to function in society.
Can they even avoid sites hosted by Google?
You make it sound like it's all easy choices. "Just don't buy brand X."
These companies are so large and so ingrained the the web and modern society that they are unavoidable.
To each their own I guess. We have more choices in technology than we’ve ever had. I haven’t used Google search in 10 years. It’s been longer since I used gmail. I used Android on and off and got rid of it permanently after downloading my google archive and seeing what’s in there. I watch videos on YouTube because there isn’t anything better. It’s not just a philosophical choice to avoid Google. That’s part of it but I think many of Google’s products are pretty lackluster as well. Search and gmail are the only ones that they really nailed. Both are phenomenal. The rest of them are mediocre defensive moves to protect the brand from a competitor, neat experiments that don’t become a must-have product, acquisitions or just another thing they’ll kill off. I used search and gmail until the the invasive tracking wasn’t worth it. I avoid Google web properties when I can. I know they still track me as much as they can. I make efforts to minimize the ability for someone to effectively build a profile and I make larger efforts to prevent them from successfully delivering targeting ads or converting.
If enough people stop using Google products, even if they can’t avoid indirectly touching something, Google will eventually want to figure out why and start making things that sell better. They don’t do what they do because they decided to be evil. They do it because it makes money. And people don’t continue to use it because they can’t switch. They use it because they like it or because they don’t have enough of a problem that they’re willing to switch. Instead, they bitch and moan a little bit and then go about their business. Maybe the more vocal ones are clamoring for regulation. That group is essentially saying they don’t like the way the product works even though they’re not the target market and we should make a law to change the product to their liking.
The reality is there is a a huge market where people are willing to trade information for product. I don’t like it but is it that bad that we need to break up companies? It’s put smartphones in places where they wouldn’t be otherwise. It’s connected people. It’s done more to level the playing field in terms of technical literacy and availability than anything anyone has ever done. There are homeless people who still have an android phone and everything that comes with it and that opens doors which would otherwise be shut. Would the world be a better or worse place if none of that came into existence?
We need to start with education. If the masses don’t understand it and the lawmakers don’t understand it we can’t exactly expect them to fix it. Apple is doing a little bit on this front with privacy-oriented products and requiring clear privacy policies from developers. I’d like to see more of this. If they truly differentiate themselves as the privacy (even at a premium) company then we’ve got a couple decent models to choose from. That’s really the key because more than the size or scope of these companies, it’s the homogenization of the industry that concerns me. But first, people need to understand enough about how it works that a company can effectively differentiate their product.
If there has to be legislation then I’d like to see something that requires more transparency of what is collected, how it’s used, give the individual some more control, etc. Something in the spirit of GDPR that isn’t such s shit show.
Is it _really_ not possible to have employee representation? I find that hard to believe.
This isn't insurmountable, as none of these constraints are inherent to the concept of employee representation. But it does require some more detail, or you end up with a decidedly non-central case like the one described elsethread, where Sundar Pichai counts as employee representation.
First, works councils are strongly biased toward the organizational status quo by default. They can deny/delay opportunities to individual employees against the wishes of that employee and even though the works council has no credible claim to skin in the game. I've seen it happen and it demotivates employees it happens to. Companies use a lot of hacks to informally let people reorganize themselves without the consent of the works council to get around this.
Second, many trivial and inconsequential operational decisions become glacially slow because works councils tend to micromanage all of them at ponderous speed. Even obvious employee issues which would be resolved in 30 seconds at an American company can take months when the works council is involved, all to the benefit of no one really. This takes a very visible toll on speed of execution. It creates interesting dynamics when the company is global because the rest of the company may not be able to wait for the works council, so the employees under the works council may feel like they are on the outside looking in as the rest of the company moves forward.
The loss of autonomy over my own career would bother me as an employee. The loss of operational agility and execution speed would bother me as a business.
The usually decent working relationship between management and works council is part of unions not being seen as petty (e.g. "employee X is strictly forbidden to do work Y even for a second, consequences be damned") and greedy here in Germany. Wal-Mart tried union busting here and it didn't go well at all.
All that being said, a well handled works council is probably going to slow down a company, but not after decisions have been made as you described. It is also going to help make better decisions sometimes.
I'm not saying works councils are bad per se, but they do have an effect on flexibility and execution speed that is significant enough that many Americans notice, especially in the western US where fast and flexible is the native mode of business (eastern US traditionally has a bit more rigid and European-like business culture).
It has an enduring reputation for having been cushy in the past - and it might still feel cushy if you happen to mesh well with the prevailing company culture. But many people don't see it that way, apparently - to the point where they feel that their work itself is being impacted. And the way the whole Rubin story has been handled is also indicative of very real problems, to be sure. Many people want to work in a thoroughly professional environment, some place they can feel genuinely proud to be within - I can't blame the Google folks for walking out.
Maybe Google has gotten worse, but the way the employees reacted to this "scandal" leads me to believe that they're acting entitled. Rubin was accused of harassment and asked to leave. That's all that should matter from an employee's perspective. The $90 million payout was a hedge to ensure that Rubin doesn't sue Google and cause negative publicity. It's not coming out of the employee's paycheck, so it's none of their business.
I think it’s the kind of idea that sounds good on paper, but it’s trivially easy to corrupt someone once they’re in that sort of position of power.
Maybe my version is slightly too extreme, but I think we can be creative enough to find a good solution for this. It doesn't sound impossible to me at all. Other countries already have similar laws in place.
Sounds like Unionizing is what people are looking for, but not calling it that.
I don't see a distinguished difference between any ideas of employee representation like this and a professional/labor union.
Elect Employees to be in that council and the council has the right to make proposals/be heard by the management, often also have one or two people on the board of directors. They also need to be consulted about some areas that affect the employees (like work hours etc)
You might reduce entrepreneurial success and make the economy correspondingly more inertial/monopolistic/feudalistic if you raise compliance overhead and management friction for young startups.
Case in point, 68% of Facebook shareholders voted to remove Mark Zuckerberg, but since Zuckerberg's shares are a lot more powerful, it's completely irrelevant: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/why-68-percent-of-facebook-in...
Or put another way, it's a possible bonus if you and others like you do well.
Not investing in banks didn't make people safe from the financial crisis.
> Empowers workers at United States corporations to elect at least 40% of Board members: Borrowing from the successful approach in Germany and other developed economies, a United States corporation must ensure that no fewer than 40% of its directors are selected by the corporation's employees.
no one is forced to work at these companies and no one is forced to buy the stocks. if you don't like the way the company is run don't work there or invest.
imagine the opposite heavy-handed intervention. what if it was proposed that companies are banned from allowing employees reps on the board...
This is not a strong argument.
Labor does not have the leverage in most industries as it does in large tech. Even in tech it is cyclical. Younger readers here, who missed out on the 2001 and 2008 crashes, are going to have an eye-opening experience when the next recession gets here.
On a broader note, your comment falls into one of the very annoying category of constructing a hip-shot theoretical model to explain why something won't work when it has actually already been implemented for decades in some places. YOUNGER READERS may not remember that Germany required codetermination for all companies over 2000 employees back in 1976.
Tech work is much more diversified now, right? Did capital one, starbucks, nordstrom, Walmart, Target, car makers and just about everyone have a sizable SWE team in 2001? They do now and a lot of those are probably in profit center roles.
That sets aside that big tech really got even more cemented into daily lives after both of those crashes. 2013 onward IMO. Just looks at how Tinder has changed relationships.
That said, I'm still proceeding with caution and don't have a self-assurance that I'm correct. I've set myself up to be able to peace out for a year in Vietnam or another cheap place if, somehow, the floor falls out.
Yes - and 1991 for that matter. They weren’t building mobile apps and the trend has become stronger but almost every large organization has been building software for decades.
I'm talking about the sheer amount of software and people that support those efforts now, in addition to how much profit comes from it. Surely it has grown by more than say...5x.
This is going to be increasingly difficult in Europe as they focus on “disguised employees” or “perm-tractors”. The UK has already implemented this rule (IR35) for the public sector, with the private sector set to follow suit in 2020. And the EU are beginning to consider how to clamp down on the practice.
(Essentially as I understand things they’re no longer allowing contractors to make the decision as to whether they’re inside IR35 or not, but making the companies paying them make that decision & bear the liability for getting it wrong.)
The concept of a salaried workforce is embedded in our society at a fairly deep level, and upending that to prevent workforce representation might not be that easy.
I remember one guy though who was far-left, very obnoxious, and useless. And he got fired/pushed out a little while after I left.
Without that, it sounds like either left-wing activists are far more common at Google, that right-wing activists are afraid to act in similar ways, or that Google enforces such policies in an ideologically slanted manner. (My bet would be on all three)
Yes, and I think this is common knowledge. Good place to look is Code of Conducts for all kind of technical groups. Their language is pulled straight from identity politics of left.
The bigger companies in particular are your employer, your restaurant, your gym, your laundry service, your transportation, your social life...
What companies besides Google and Facebook could qualify as all of those?
United Shore: their own starbucks, a gym, outdoor basketball courts.
Commvault has: ping pong, foosball, pool tables, a gym, a softball field, a basketball court, a walking trail
Procore has: a gym, catered lunches, bring your dog to work policy, fitness _classes_, massages & haircuts onsite.
Adobe: a gym
Tesla: employee lease program, shuttle services
Intel: gyms, fitness classes, spas, dry cleaning, banking.
Where you work, who you work with, and what you do, it’s all political.
This was the norm in the late 19th and early 20th century when we had party bosses. Parties/Candidates promised companies contracts, so your financial interest became your political interest.
You're lucky today that you can vote for whoever you damn well please.
> [Google leadership] are talking to everyone who thought my story sounded familiar, anyone who’s been Through It in some form: pushed out or punished for speaking up, gaslit, discriminated against, isolated, harassed. People are telling each other their stories. Refusing to acknowledge our humanity and engage with the deeper issues being raised - well, that's not very Googley.
'Nuff said. Google is going to have serious problems in the future unless they start addressing the obvious flaws in their company culture - their vulnerability to upstarts and competitors can only increase going forward!
Also check out DuckDuckGo on Alexa ... its now the 100th most popular site in the US and continues to increase its reach; 167 globally.
Love to get away fully from Google myself! They are horrible and personally their arrogance and ignorance is catching up to them!
You're kidding yourself. Those people you know who are switching are having no material effect whatsoever:
If anything, their market share is going up.
Apple is all in on privacy ...Apple is as big or bigger then Google and makes it's money off of hardware & software not invasive/intrusive ads. Those who ride their same wave will no doubt see huge and or continued success!
Check back on that counter in a few years! It will be a different story I guarantee you!
I use to bang google fairly frequently when I first started using it but my use of that command has become a lot less; now 10 to 20 percent of the time.
I don’t hear ppl talking about Bing. Also I hear people talking about privacy including Apple. It’s now seems to be apart of their branding and those who are on the same bandwagon I’m sure will find continued success.
I've been using GSuite (and Gmail) since they launched, so when even a long-term user thinks Google isn't worth it anymore--to the point of actively evangelizing against the use of Google services--Google's got serious issues.
If they can't resolve this soon, they'll be the new IBM. IBM was able to survive because nobody got fired for using IBM. But Google doesn't make anything integral to business: search is a pale shadow of what it used to be; GSuite is still just a dumbed-down 365 wannabe, and none of Google's other products are kept around long enough even if successful to justify any sort of personal or business investment in them.
 mind you, I feel Claire is honest in upholding her views and doesn't have an agenda.
2) I get to pass judgments on Google because I'm a customer and I'm voting with my wallet, and because in the nearly 2 decades that I've been a customer they've gone from being a bastion of idealism and representing the possibility of the internet to being one of the fundamental problems. They're very close to embracing "be evil" as a motto.
3) Google's not going to be a $1 trillion company for long if it keeps this shit up. People vote with their wallets.
I work in tech and have friends in the Bay area that work in tech and it never comes up. I honestly had forgotten Google had a walkout until this Hacker News post today. Your online search bubble / real life bubble might be heavily biasing you.
Edit: The more I think about it the funnier it gets. Do you think I am "not in the tech world" and upset by it? Or that I don't earn a lot of money and am upset at that? I am genuinely curious in the assumptions you made to arrive at the conclusion that I am upset/offended.
I hate when people say that during a discussion or argument.
This comment is amazingly emblematic of how shitty and toxic the comments have gotten on this site. You dismiss outright the story of someone you could easily research, all for some pet pity party for some Google exec? Not only is this incredibly lazy rhetoric but it serves literally zero purpose other than to make you feel good about not understanding the reasons other people make decisions.
is the issue that he received millions instead of billions? if that's it, I'm behind her.
Also, please don't use HN for ideological battle.
Also, please eschew flamebait.