Alphabet, the new publicly-traded company behind Google search, advertising, and maps has published a new code of conduct that doesn’t include the famous ‘Don’t be evil’ motto. Instead, employees of Alphabet and its subsidiaries are expected to ‘Do the right thing’ and that means, “Follow the law, act honourably and treat each other with respect”.
‘Don’t be evil’ also meant, “Doing the right thing more generally” under Google’s code, which now sits beneath Alphabet’s newly-published code of conduct.
However, ‘Don’t be evil’ also applied to how Google and its employees serve users, such as providing them with unbiased access to information. The code of conduct was one way Google put ‘Don’t be evil’ in to practice.
Google announced its restructure and name change in August, part of which takes shape today when the US stock markets reopen, with Alphabet having replaced Google. Google’s ticker symbols won’t change, but its class A shares and class C shares will be converted to an equivalent number of Alphabet class A and class C shares.
Besides omitting ‘Don’t be evil’ from Alphabet’s code, the holding company’s code of conduct includes some of the same items, though more concisely written and with fewer cases to explain. Alphabet’s document is under 1,000 words compared with Google’s 6,000 word code of conduct.
The new code offers a brief outline of what to do to avoid conflicts of interest, as well as ensuring financial integrity and responsibility. Like Google’s code, it also requires staff to obey the law, and offers a brief explanation outlining applicable laws relating to trade controls, competition, insider trading, and bribery.
Some of the other items that have not been carried across include protecting Google’s assets, such as IP, its network, and facilities, as well as four points on preserving confidentiality and five related to “respect each other”, encompassing everything from its drugs and alcohol policy to Google’s dog policy, which stated that, “We like cats, but we’re a dog company”.
This is a scary shift for a company that has the ability to know everything about everyone. I hope this doesn’t signal the move from doing right in everything to doing what’s legal. Anyone who has been alive for more than 20 years understands the difference between LEGAL and MORAL. Many companies follow the letter of the law and get Foch doing EVIL.
I certainly hope ALPHABET does not become one of these.