- Google insiders believe the company has become too big and needs to be broken up.
- The tech giant is facing a barrage of antitrust probes on both sides of the Atlantic.
- One employee told Insider that Google’s leadership should ‘smash it and start again.’
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
A number of Google employees believe the company would benefit from being broken up, saying the company has grown too large and has become weighed down by bureaucratic indirection.
Since 1998, the tech giant’s headcount has ballooned to 140,000 employees worldwide, many working not only on its key moneymakers – search and YouTube ad revenue – but a melee of different verticals and moonshot ideas, including its Android mobile operating system, artificial intelligence, self-driving vehicles, drone delivery, and healthcare products.
But Google’s spiraling growth hasn’t gone unnoticed by regulators.
Lawmakers in the US and the EU have set up a string of antitrust probes investigating the company’s practices, with the latter fining the company more than $10 billion in the space of three years for alleged anticompetitive practices. Under the proposed terms of the EU’s incoming Digital Markets Act, Google would already be at risk of a forcible break-up.
And CEO Sundar Pichai’s risk-averse leadership style has faced criticism internally, with insiders saying the chief exec too often played it safe in his decision-making.
“A good leader is someone who’s able to keep an eye on the bigger picture, while divvying up responsibilities among their top team,” according to one senior employee at one of Google’s “other bets” moonshot companies, who spoke to Insider on the condition of anonymity to avoid being reprimanded.
“But Google is all over the place. It’s often not clear what the long-term purpose of these projects – which require gargantuan amounts of investment and draw talent away from other industries – actually is,” they said, suggesting leadership should “smash it and start again.”
Another senior employee, a Google veteran of more than a decade, agreed the company often lacked a “cohesive strategy” in its dealings with regulators.
“I raised this with my team lead, a pretty well-known VP, but they made it clear to me that short-term gains took priority over long-term consequences.” They added: “I’m of the opinion it would be better for everyone at the company – and, frankly, humanity – if Google were broken up.”
The tech giant is facing unprecedented legal scrutiny over its market dominance, in part because it controls 66% of the world’s web browsing, 74% of the world’s smartphone software, and 92% of the search engine market.
One insider, a software engineer who joined the company shortly before the outbreak of COVID-19, suggested Google’s forays into other markets were a means of shielding itself from accusations it enjoys monopoly status.
“When all the chief execs sat in front of Congress last year, Tim Cook had to deal with a lot of questions about how developers interact with the App Store, and whether the rates Apple charges are fair or whatever,” they said.
“But Google has many of the same issues with the Play store, and Sundar just got to sidestep the whole thing.”
The software engineer said the logic behind Google was that if they were doing everything they “can’t be accused of dominating anything.”
Earlier this week, 36 attorney generals across the US lodged a nationwide antitrust blitz against the company, aim at Google’s plan to charge app developers using its app store to pay a 30% commission fee on goods and services.
In effect, this will mean the likes of Netflix or Spotify — or any app where you pay for an in-app digital purchase — will be taxed.
Insider approached Google for comment.
Are you a current or former Googler with more to share? You can contact this reporter securely using the encrypted messaging app Signal (+447801985586) or email ([email protected]). Reach out using a nonwork device.
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