Eight years after Google revealed its famous “don’t be evil” credo to the world, co-founder Larry Page has added a fresh twist to its unusual corporate philosophy: the desire to be loved.
“We have always wanted Google to be a company that is deserving of great love,” Mr Page wrote on Thursday, in a public letter marking his one-year anniversary as the internet search group’s chief executive.
“We recognise this is an ambitious goal because most large companies are not well-loved, or even seemingly set up with that in mind,” the Google boss said, before going on to argue that such limitations could be overcome by improved online services and “healthy revenue” from “better advertising”.
Mr. Page’s comments mark an extension of the letter to potential investors that he and fellow co-founder Sergey Brin included in the prospectus filed by Google ahead of its initial public offering in 2004.
That letter introduced their famously idealistic approach to corporate life, including their commitment to ensuring “a well functioning society” and their desire to “make the world a better place”, along with the assertion of their “don’t be evil” motto.
Mr. Page’s unusual declaration of Google’s need for love came under immediate attack from some of the company’s critics, who questioned whether a large corporation should ever be driven by such a motivation.
“It’s a megalomaniacal goal when a person says they want the world to love them or their creation,” said Scott Cleland, author of Search and Destroy, a critical account of the search company, and a research consultant whose clients include some of Google’s corporate enemies. Respect, earned partly through sound ethical behaviour, was the most that big companies should strive for, he added.
Mr. Page’s comments about Google’s deepest motivations were included in a section of his letter to shareholders titled “Love and trust”. In it, he referred to recent changes to Google’s privacy policies, which have been widely criticized as having been made to further the company’s own commercial interests at the expense of its users’ privacy.
The Google CEO said the privacy changes would “enable us to create a much better, more intuitive experience across Google - our key focus this year”. He went on to argue that the company’s future depended on it being able to generate “healthy revenue”, since this was essential for attracting the best employees and “changing the world through innovation”.
“We have always believed that it’s possible to make money without being evil.”