USA Today Calls Google Gutsy

March 27, 2010

I read Al Neuharth’s “Google Is Gutsy to Spit in China’s Eye.” Not once. Twice. Mr. Neuharth is the author of the tome Confessions of an S.O.B., the visionary behind USA Today (which one of my colleagues at a major publishing company once described as McPaper), and the genius behind the big building that violated the once-sacrosanct limits on skyscrapers in Washington, DC. Some antiquated notion that no building could be taller than an old guy’s monument.

The write up contain a word with which I was not familiar in the headline “gutsy”. According to the Free Dictionary, “gutsy” means either gluttonous, greedy or “full of courage, determination, or boldness.” One of the context examples offers this: “a gusty red wine.”

The idea is that Google “spit in China’s eye.” I get it. A company with $25 billion or so in revenues and millions of users is taking a stance against the largest nation in the world. China is also one of the largest economies too even if the currency is subject to some manipulations by the Chinese government.

For me the key passage in the write up which I urge you to read was:

But the Google test may become as important as these two other memorable China-U.S. relationships:

  • President Richard Nixon’s 1972 visit to China, the first U.S. president to do so.
  • Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s visit to the U.S. in 1979, when he toured the country and haughtily wore a cowboy hat at a rodeo in Texas.

In both cases, the two leaders made clear they were open to some of the other country’s practices with out sacrificing any of their own principles.

I think this means that a single company’s actions are as important as the actions of leaders of countries. That’s the type of analysis that makes USA Today such a great read: A company is the equivalent of a country.

I don’t agree.

A country is a nation state. It makes laws. It has an army. It has a police force. It has a way of behaving that is different from a company that is supposed to generate a return for its stakeholders. A country generates tangibles and intangibles for its law abiding citizens  and allies. Selling to China is my goal. Spitting at China is not my goal. Mr. Neurhart sees the benefits of “gutsy” spitting I suppose. I don’t.

After I finished the second reading, I recalled this quote from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War:

Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.

The questions are, of course, who is pretending and who is encouraging? A correct answer may be helpful, particularly with regard to China.

Stephen E Arnold, March 27, 2010

No one paid me to write this. I will report non payment to USA Today because my copy was not delivered with my Courier Journal, New York Times, or Wall Street Journal. Think anyone cares at Gannett?

Comments

One Response to “USA Today Calls Google Gutsy”

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