Lessons from Google’s former slogan “Don’t be evil”

First introduced around 2000, “Don’t be evil” is Google’s corporate code of conduct motto

The motto was first suggested either by Google employee Paul Buchheit at a meeting about corporate values that took place in early 2000 or in 2001 or, according to another account, by Google Engineer Amit Patel in 1999.

Buchheit who is also the creator of Gmail, said he “wanted something that, once you put it in there, would be hard to take out”, adding that the slogan was “also a bit of a jab at a lot of the other companies, especially our competitors, who at the time, in our opinion, were kind of exploiting the users to some extent”.

In their 2004 founders’ letter, prior to their initial public offering, Larry Page and Sergey Brin argued that their “Don’t be evil” culture prohibited conflicts of interest, and required objectivity and an absence of bias

Google users trust our systems to help them with important decisions: medical, financial and many others. Our search results are the best we know how to produce. They are unbiased and objective, and we do not accept payment for them or for inclusion or more frequent updating. We also display advertising, which we work hard to make relevant, and we label it clearly. This is similar to a well-run newspaper, where the advertisements are clear and the articles are not influenced by the advertisers’ payments. We believe it is important for everyone to have access to the best information and research, not only to the information people pay for you to see.

Google’s parent company Alphabet dropped “Don’t be evil” and replaced it with “Do the right thing”  in October 2015.




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