eWEEK at 30: Google's Wealth Brings Diversification, Public Scrutiny
The Microsoft antitrust case, which began in 1998, involved the bundling and integration of its Internet Explorer Web browser with Microsoft Windows. Just a few years ago, in 2011, Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt staunchly defended Google's business practices during a U.S. Senate antitrust hearing saying that that Google learned valuable lessons from Microsoft on how to conduct consumer-friendly business, according to an eWEEK report. Instead, Google executives may not have learned as much as they thought about the Microsoft saga, said Enderle. "For Microsoft, one of the great things for them was that they got slapped before they got more arrogant," he said. "It's better to be hit early and have a consent decree to get you back on track rather than be hit with it late and be broken up." Meanwhile, Google is irritating people in its own back yard in the San Francisco Bay area. San Francisco resident protests against Google and other Silicon Valley tech companies have revolved around two key issues: the use of private commuter buses to bring their workers to their corporate offices while not paying fees to use bus stops and city streets, and tech-fueled real estate speculation that is making it hard for long-time residents to be able to afford to live in neighborhoods and apartments they have occupied for years, according to critics.Maycock said he doesn't think that Google is evil at heart, but instead thinks that the dust-ups have occurred because Google and its employees are more focused on their work than on community issues they may not relate to on a day-to-day basis. "This is why some people don't understand Google and why some see it as a company without a social conscience in regard to issues like the Google employee bus stops and gentrification issues in the San Francisco Bay area," he said. "They are a company of engineers and if you have a company full of engineers, and you ask them if they are worried about gentrification and traffic and such they'd say, 'no, we're worried about our company and its health and about things that are going to impact our core goals.'" That, said Maycock, is why Google is focused on issues such as transportation to work for their employees. "The fact that they don't care as much about the implications of such things just means that it is not part of their core business. They need to be good corporate citizens, but probably not to the extent that some people otherwise might want."
The protests are a symptom of the a growing sense of resentment against highly compensated employees of Google and other high-tech companies making San Francisco and other Bay Area cities unaffordable for middle class working families.