Hat tip to Sarah Lacy for laying it out so well: Google is ready to burn bridges. This is not how negotiations are done in China, and Google has done well enough there to know that. You don’t get results by pressuring the government in a public, English-language blog post. If Google were indeed still working with the government this letter would not have been posted because it has likely slammed every door shut […] This was a scorched earth move, aimed at buying Google some good will in the rest of the world; Chinese customers and staff were essentially just thrown under the bus.
Google is a self-interested company. Self-interested companies know that righteousness and bridge burning do not sustain successful businesses. Therefore, the company must have come to the conclusion that their business in China is not a successful one.
Google is hovering under 20% in market share in China. They are losing to Baidu. Seems to me they’ve already made a business decision to back out, and are cynically using that fact to drum up some PR sympathy.
I have no complaints about embarrassing the Chinese government; any gov’t really. But Google’s been compromising with the Chinese authorities for a long time. Why are they so upset all of a sudden, now?
I am sure that someone is trying to hack their systems, as the company claims. But I bet that someone is trying to hack Google, all day, every day, in every country of the world. This time set them off? Please.
I happen to agree with Google’s initial decision to enter the Chinese market under less-than-ideal circumstances. For the Chinese people, some Google is better than no Google. It creates a foothold for future openness. It was bold — they could easily have not tried.
But the current situation is not a passionate reaction to an outrage, and there is no mention of what’s best for Google’s Chinese users or employees. This is making the best of a bad situation by scoring a few points with the digerati, of which you and I are a part.
Don’t be evil? Start with sincerity.