Google To Employees: 'We Are a Workplace' - 2 minutes read

Google, once known for its unconventional approach to business, has taken a decisive step towards becoming a more traditional company by firing 28 employees who participated in protests against a $1.2 billion contract with the Israeli government. The move comes after sit-in demonstrations on Tuesday at Google offices in Silicon Valley and New York City, where employees opposed the company's support for Project Nimbus, a cloud computing contract they argue harms Palestinians in Gaza. Nine employees were arrested during the protests.

In a note to employees, CEO Sundar Pichai said, "We have a culture of vibrant, open discussion... But ultimately we are a workplace and our policies and expectations are clear: this is a business, and not a place to act in a way that disrupts coworkers or makes them feel unsafe, to attempt to use the company as a personal platform, or to fight over disruptive issues or debate politics."

Google also says that the Project Nimbus contract is "not directed at highly sensitive, classified, or military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services."

Axios adds: Google prided itself from its early days on creating a university-like atmosphere for the elite engineers it hired. Dissent was encouraged in the belief that open discourse fostered innovation. "A lot of Google is organized around the fact that people still think they're in college when they work here," then-CEO Eric Schmidt told "In the Plex" author Steven Levy in the 2000s.

What worked for an organization with a few thousand employees is harder to maintain among nearly 200,000 workers. Generational shifts in political and social expectations also mean that Google's leadership and its rank-and-file aren't always aligned.


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