• Jeff Matthews

Google Guy, Doing Evil


Google Wedding Seizes Island

No, that is not a headline parody from The Onion.

It is the Page Six headline in yesterday’s New York Post—the Official Newspaper of Record here at NotMakingThisUp.

You are forgiven if you think the following details of the story are more appropriate for, say, The Donald than for a smart young man whose company’s informal code of conduct is, literally, “Don’t Be Evil”:

The wedding this Saturday of Google co-founder Larry Page on a tiny Caribbean island is a logistical nightmare for planners who are flying in 600 guests on private planes and trying to find deluxe hotel rooms for all the bigwigs….

[Wedding planners] “had to book all the hotels on the neighboring island of Virgin Gorda….so that Page’s wedding could be completely private.” Indeed, some readers of NotMakingThisUp might recall that just last week Google announced an ambitious clean energy plan called “Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal” in a press release containing four full paragraphs quoting Mr. Page, starting with this one:“We have gained expertise in designing and building large-scale, energy-intensive facilities by building efficient data centers,” said Larry Page, Google Co-founder and President of Products. “We want to apply the same creativity and innovation to the challenge of generating renewable electricity at globally significant scale, and produce it cheaper than coal.”Yet nowhere in the Google press release was it mentioned that Mr. Page has had to apply ‘creativity and innovation’ to the challenge of putting dozens of private jets in the air for the noble purpose of having a really awesome wedding in the British Virgin Islands.

But creativity and innovation are precisely what has been required, because this wedding is no last-minute, “let’s go to Branson’s place” whim of the eligible Mr. Page coming on the heels of a Britney Spears-type Lost Weekend in Vegas: in fact, The Post reports that Mr. Page’s “planners” have been “working six months in advance” on the nuptials.

Hey, it takes time to coordinate the CO2-dumping logistics of inefficient private jet travel for 600 people!In fact, those jets will discharge anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 pounds of CO2 per hour of flight—depending on what size jets the 600 fab guests take—while sucking down 200 to 500 gallons of fuel every sixty minutes.

Of course, those are pikers compared to the rather large Boeing 767 wide-body Mr. Page shares with Sergey Brin, which they keep parked at Moffett Field across Route 101 for things like, well, flying inefficiently to Necker Island just because they can.

Long-time readers know that I’m a fan of Google’s business model, particularly the company’s entirely un-Microsoftian method of innovation—which is to hire the best engineers and give them big targets to shoot for…but also to let them spend 20% of their time on whatever excites them.

If and when those engineers come up with something useful—like, say, Google Maps or Google Mail or Google Scholar or Google Documents—the company throws it out there as a ‘beta’ product so real people can use it and help the company refine it into a mass market product.

That kind of free-wheeling, market-driven methodology draws unrestrained contempt from the promise-the-world-and-give-an-unattainable-but-market-freezing-deadline types in Redmond, but it’s certainly worked in Mountain View.

As long-time readers also know, I believe we’re firmly in the grips of a human-caused climate warming easily observable in the alarming, everyday changes right outside our doors.

Consequently, I thought Google’s “renewable energy” announcement last week was a nice, positive, worthwhile step forward by a company with the money and the smarts to come up with something more helpful than the chirpy newspaper ads favored by BP and other green-acting companies.

And we’ll need something helpful faster than anybody thinks: just today scientists from Mr. Page’s alma mater—Stanford University—released a study suggesting climate change could cause nearly a third of bird species to go extinct within a hundred years.

Seems to me that by putting hundreds of private jets in the air for the sole purpose of getting together on a private island several thousand miles from his home to say “I do,” Mr. Page is, in his own way, doing precisely what the company he co-founded expects its own people not to do: a kind of evil.

Jeff Matthews I Am Not Making This Up

© 2007 NotMakingThisUp, LLC

The content contained in this blog represents the opinions of Mr. Matthews. Mr. Matthews also acts as an advisor and clients advised by Mr. Matthews may hold either long or short positions in securities of various companies discussed in the blog based upon Mr. Matthews’ recommendations. This commentary in no way constitutes investment advice, nor is it a solicitation of business in any way. It is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader, and the author.

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The content contained in this blog represents only the opinions of Mr. Matthews. This commentary in no way constitutes investment advice. It should never be relied on in making an investment decision, ever. The content herein is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader, and the author.

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