Google Business Ethics

Topics: Google, Sergey Brin, Initial public offering Pages: 7 (2141 words) Published: December 15, 2007

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. As a first step to fulfilling that mission, Google's founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed a new approach to online search that took root in a Stanford University dorm room and quickly spread to information seekers around the globe. The company was first incorporated as a privately held company on September 7, 1998. Google's initial public offering took place on August 19, 2004, raising $1.67 billion, making it worth $23 billion. Google is now widely recognized as the world's largest search engine -- an easy-to-use free service that usually returns relevant results in a fraction of a second.

The world's biggest, best-loved search engine owes its success to supreme technology and a simple rule: Don't be evil! The ethical policies and behaviour of Google can be understood better by analysing the four spheres of responsibilities. The analysis will aim at understanding the various dimensions of the ethical dilemmas faced by Google Inc, its founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page and other top executives. Personal Ethical Values

A BBC New Article [1] describes Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin as "the type of young men most parents would dream of their daughters bringing home". Despite the fact that both of them turned billionaires after Google's IPO, they have been reported to have a modest, unassuming lifestyle. They don't own sports cars, and instead are said to each drive a Toyota Prius, a plain-looking but rather environmentally friendly saloon that is half electric-powered, and growing in popularity among green-minded Americans.

Concern for Rights and Duties

Both Google founders respect the common man's right to information which he is legally authorized to access. One malevolent practice, in Google's view, is tampering with or otherwise censoring the list of results produced by a Google search. An early test of the Google founders' commitment to providing unfiltered information struck very close to home [2]. The anti-Semitic web site "Jew Watch" appeared prominently in Google results for searches on the term "Jew," prompting some Jewish groups to demand that Google remove the defamatory site from the top of its listings. Google refused. Sergey said at the time, "I certainly am very offended by the site, but the objectivity of our rankings is one of our very important principles." However, at the same time they also realised that as the largest provider of search links on the internet, it is their duty to ensure that people are warned or made aware of potentially harmful/offensive content and thus the warning ""Offensive Search Results" on top of some of the results. Character and Virtue

To stand upto the basic virtues of courage, temperance, prudence and fairness is not an easy task for a manager especially when the context is global and involves countries and people with varied culture and perceptions. Google's founders had to give in to the demands of Communist Party bureaucrats in China and launch a censored version of Google in the country. Viewed against the backdrop of Sergey's distaste for authority, the decision to cave in to China's totalitarian leadership seemed out of character at that time. Responsibilities as Economic Agents

In most cases, a company is legally and ethically obliged to maximize its shareholder's benefits. The managers, as economic agents, are also obligated to compete fairly and vigorously. To gauge how successful Google, as an organization, has been in maximizing its beneficiaries, we'll track its market growth since the first IPO in 2004. Going Public – The Motive

In a letter to the Google investors [3] Sergey and Larry disclosed their intentions behind the move of going public and their vision ahead for Google. They expect Google shareholders to share the same vision as theirs of being a company that provides "unbiased, accurate and free...

References: [1] The Google Founders (
[2] The Story of Sergey Brin (
[3] Google Investor Relations – IPO Letter (
[4] Google 's Code of Conduct Policy (
[5] Seattle Times Article (
[6] The Google Foundation (
[7] Google joins the lobbying herd – New York Times (
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