As Google has grown more important in the digital economy, it is poised to encounter an increasing amount of interactions with the world governments. Already, Google has had confrontations with the Vietnamese and Chinese governments this year and is now at odds with the European governments over privacy issues. Google is also battling on many fronts including operating systems for pc’s, phones, selling digital books, computer digital drives, etc. What does all of this mean? It means that increasingly, Google has to discuss and negotiate with the US government. Having Washington by its side on domestic but also international matters is maybe not priceless but it’s not that far. Imagine if Hillary Clinton and the US government had not demonstrated support for Google in its battle with China? I’m not saying there would have been a war but things certainly could have turned a lot more nasty.
How Google is trying to get Washington and States on its side
Lobbying: As much as Google would like to find an original “Non-Evil” way to get support at the government, the best way to get it, as it has been for a very long time, is to spend money lobbeying. Google has certainly been very active. Compared to last year, Google increased its lobbying spending 57% to $1.3 million.
How is it spending it? According to this interesting article from the Washington Post, not so conventionally. I’m not certain why Google chooses to take this approach about privacy and it certainly has not helped gather support of the government. Google has always been about finding a smarter way. When it did its Ipo, Google was not conventional and the way it is dealing with bureaucracy has also been quite innovative.
Public Relations (PR):
This week, Google published a comprehensive report about its role in the US economy, broken down state by state. It gives itself credit for $54 billion of economic activity and even breaks down the calculations by state in the report is published. That is quite impressive, very interesting and very useful…for Google. With this report, Google can go to any business or individual and prove why it should be “helped”, “protected”… Who knows how exactly it will be used but I would say that it is probably a good PR move. I would imagine that most companies would like to publish a report but deem it too much of an effort. Of course, Google being the king of information that it is, the effort required is much smaller.
The latest efforts by Google to do well (and gain public appreciation) is in the environment field. Sure, building wind facilities could be cost efficient but there is certainly more to that story. Do you think that its recent announcement to be a carbon neutral company is only about “Doing no evil”? Today, Google joined environmental groups asking for laws to be passed regulating carbon emission. I do like Google, I really do. But I don’t think these are mainly about being a “good company”. There is nothing wrong with that of course, far from it, but I think it’s important to note how much importance Google is currently giving to the Government and Public support.
So you get the point, Google is doing its best to be in the best possible light for both the general public and the government, here are the reasons I see behind it:
-General Branding: Let’s face it, Google is a brand loved around the world and it certainly has its benefits
-Avoid government interventions; Microsoft and now Apple have faced issues regarding possible abuse of power, Google is doing its best to avoid being the next target
-Public battles: Google has taken sides in a few battles including for example net neutrality. The better the perception of the company, the more chances its voice will be heard loud
-International support: As Google continues to struggle with quite a few foreign governments, support from the US government is very valuable
-Acquisition power: Google is very powerful and when it makes acquisitions, the chance that they end up being blocked is smaller if it does not seem “evil”
-Others: let’s face it, the guys running Google are very smart and they probably have quite a few ideas in mind when they do such PR campaigns