Once upon a time, Google was run like a playground; it was the sort of place where you'd get points for attending the Burning Man hippie drug fest. Under new CEO Larry Page, we're seeing a more ruthless Google — the sort of company perfect comfortable turning its business partners into creepy sock puppets today.
To rebut criticism of its acquisition of Motorola today, Google collected and published quotes from the mobile phone business partners with whom it will now be competing. And it's remarkably evident that Google PR force fed the "partners" these quotes, North Korea style:
"We welcome today's news, which demonstrates Google's deep commitment to defending Android, its partners, and the ecosystem." — J.K. Shin, President, Samsung, Mobile Communications Division
"We welcome the news of today‘s acquisition, which demonstrates that Google is deeply committed to defending Android, its partners, and the entire ecosystem." — Peter Chou, CEO, HTC Corp.
I welcome Google‘s commitment to defending Android and its partners." — Bert Nordberg, President & CEO, Sony Ericsson
"We welcome Google‘s commitment to defending Android and its partners." — Jong-Seok Park, Ph.D, President & CEO, LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company
Of course, Google's rivals Apple and Microsoft orchestrate this sort of regurgitation all the time, they're just not so incredibly obvious about it. But give Google time; the "Don't Be Evil" company is just getting used to some of the more common forms of corporate subterfuge as Page, who took over from Eric Schmidt just four months ago, makes Google leaner and meaner, for better or worse.
Google was once the sort of place where employees could remake their jobs on a whim, change projects with little fuss from HR, and launch wildly unprofitable new products. Page has been cleaning house, shutting down underperforming products, the Google Labs incubator, and even stoking rumors (which we've also heard, and which Google denies) that it will end its famed "20 percent time" program for employee experimentation. It's taken a controversially harsh line with users on its otherwise booming social network Google Plus, closing accounts of people who it suspects are not using their full, real name (when Google bought Blogger in 2003, in contrast, it embraced the service's collection of anonymous and often acerbic writers). Google's even making noises about becoming "frugal" with its notoriously posh employee perks.
And now it's running a corporate acquisition like a tight lipped, iron fisted PR pro. Set aside the quote feeding; financial journalists are also agog there wasn't even a single leaks or rumor about the Motorola deal.
Welcome to new Google. It doesn't seem as special, or nearly as friendly, as the old one. But it might just end up more profitable.