Google, Culture Changes And Leaked Information

Google’s culture is changing. The tight-lipped, tight-knit group may be changing.

Until recently it would have been unheard of to learn that someone leaked information to a reporter during a Google all-hands meeting in which co-founder Sergey Brin and CEO Sundar Pichai talked about sensitive company information. This time the information came after reports of a censored search engine that would launch in China.

In the past we have heard tips and snippets of news after a meeting, but I can’t recall news being leaked during a meeting.

Many factors lead to culture change. It can range from bringing in practices from one culture to another, and technology that can spread that new traits such as a mobile phone that has the ability to send a text message during a meeting without disturbing anyone or causing a distraction.

In this case it could have been both. Someone in the meeting was providing real-time reports to Kate Conger, a New York Times reporter, who posted tweets on Twitter. In fact, she posted comments made by Brin and Pichai during the meeting.



“Sundar speaking to Googlers now at all-hands about Dragonfly: ’If we were to do our mission well, we are to think seriously about how to do more in China. That said, we are not close to launching a search product in China,’” she tweeted.

When speaking at the meeting on Thursday, The Intercept reports that Brin “remarkably” stated he knew nothing about Dragonfly until the media agency exposed plans earlier this month. Reportedly only “a few hundred of the company’s 88,000” employees knew about the project.

Ryan Gallagher, reporter and editor for The Intercept, tweeted that through the process, Pichai repeatedly traveled to China to meet with top Communist Party officials, such as Wang Huning, one of President Xi Jinping’s top advisers. "Dragonfly was *well* beyond the “exploratory” stage," he wrote.

Gallagher also sent Google 13 questions such as why was Brin not told about the plan, especially given his well-documented anti-censorship views, and as Dragonfly ever discussed at the board level of the company?

And for those who do not think that Google can track those using its network, think again. In the true spirit of tracking people through the internet, Gallagher also tweeted that “it's also worth noting that live tweeting a closed door meeting creates a high degree of risk for the sources providing you w/info. Google can monitor who is using its networks & at what times. Why risk exposing them? Just don't.”

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