Don’t Be Evil or Don’t Lose Value? from The Sydney Morning Herald interviews Google’s vice president, Marissa Mayer, on Google’s famous company motto, “Don’t Be Evil.”
In that interview, she explains that the motto “wasn’t like an elected, ordained motto.” She added, “It [the motto] is good PR but really it’s empty because it’s questionable whether shareholders will care [whether Google is evil or not].” So why is it still around?
History of “Don’t Be Evil”:
Amit Patel, Google employee number 6 and one of Google’s first engineers, coined “Do Not Be Evil” in 1999 when the engineers became afraid of the pressure they might receive from the business units of the company. Specifically, they did not want the business side of things to influence the organic search results listings or strongly influence the engineers into “building products they did not want to build,” said the article.
Then, when the company grew to about 300 employees and Google was ready to create a set of “corporate values,” Paul Bucheit, the inventor of Gmail, suggested trashing the values the team brainstormed for one: “Don’t Be Evil.”
Mayer said, “I don’t think that we should be held to a lower standard,” of the “Don’t Be Evil” motto. But she adds that it is a very subjective phrase, “I think that ‘Don’t Be Evil’ is a very easy thing to point at when you see Google doing something that you personally don’t like; it’s a very easy thing to point out so it does get targeted a lot.”
Could Google ditch the motto? I don’t personally think so.