Google Management: Fame and the F1 Crowd

March 23, 2022

With a grip on online advertising, what better way to cement exciting weekends than hanging with the in crowd at chi chi F1 venues. Will the happy Google colors find their way on the next McLaren road rocket? Are those McLaren confections climate friendly?

What does the Google team contribute to McLaren? “McLaren Racing Announces Multi-Year Partnership with Google” says:

McLaren will use 5G-enabled Android devices and Chrome browser across its operations during practice sessions, qualifying and races to support the drivers and team, with the goal of improving on-track performance.

According to the write up, a McLaren wheel will feature a Google logo. Perfect for the Google store or the ultimate booth give-away.

But those parties? The gear heads? Will Google executives abandon their daily drivers for a McLaren?

Nope, this is a high school science club interest which has been observed at Northern Light and Autonomy years ago.

Stephen E Arnold, March 23, 2022

Silicon Valley Change? It Is Happening

March 21, 2022

I read a New York Magazine article which used the phrase “vibe shift.” You can find that story at this link. This is a very hip write up, and the vibe shift is a spotted trend, not to be confused with a spotted crocuta.

I came across this story which has hopped on the vibe shift zoo train: “The Vibe Shift in Silicon Valley.” Now the locale becomes important. The table below provides the vibe shift which existed three years ago and the spotted trend of the vibe shift:

The Unshifted Vibe The Shifted Vibe
Facebook is the “center” of the digital universe TikTok, the China-affiliated outfit, is the new center of the universe
Info diffuses quickly Info struggles to be diffused
Fix the Web Replace the Web
Data are “mind control” Data are a “personal liability”
The US is the big dog in tech regulation Europe and Apple are the kings of the rules jungle
Tech destroys “our politics” Tech harms children

The article says:

Of course, there are many more shifts you could probably name that would support a full-time tech reporter at any publication: the heightened importance of chip manufacturing and innovation; the global supply chain; the post-COVID gig economy; and the decriminalization of psychedelics, which isn’t exactly tech but is definitely tech-adjacent. But when I think about my own coverage, these are the shifts that are guiding it: my evolving sense of where power is moving in tech and the surrounding culture.

What adaptations should one make? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Watch TikToks then post your own TikToks in order to immerse and understand the new power center.
  2. Info does not diffuse. That’s interesting because in my upcoming National Cyber Crime lecture about open source intelligence, information is diffusing and quite a percentage of those data are helpful to investigators.
  3. I like the “replace” but is the alternative Web 3? How do those Web 3 apps work without ISPs and data centers? They don’t unless one is in a crowd and pals are using mobile based mesh methods. Yeah, rip and replace? Not likely.
  4. Mind control and a personal liability. Remember Scott McNealy’s observation: Privacy is dead. Get over it. Reality is different from the vibe.
  5. In the US, government has shifted responsibility for space flight, regulation, and  community actions to for profit outfits. In Europe, a clown car of regulators are trying to tame the US outfits which have made less than positive contributions to social cohesion. That’s a responsible path for what and for whom?
  6. Tech has destroyed politics. Okay. Tech is harming children. Okay. I am not sure politics has been torn apart, and children have been at risk is a well worn rallying point when certain entities want to contain human trafficking and related actions.

What is the situation in Silicon Valley? Here are my observations:

  1. The Wild West approach to business has irritated quite a few folks, and there is a backlash or techlash if one prefers hippy dippy jargon
  2. The high school science club approach to decision making has lost its charm. Example: Google is sponsoring an F1 vehicle and the company is probably unaware that two other content centric outfits used this “marketing” so senior executives could sniff fumes and rub shoulders with classy people. And the companies? Northern Light and Autonomy.
  3. The lack of ethical frameworks has allowed social media companies and third party data aggregators to “nudge” people for the purpose of enriching themselves and gaining influence. Yep, ethical behavior may be making a come back.
  4. Many in Silicon Valley ignored the message in Jacques Ellul’s book Le bluff technologique. Short summary: Fixing problems with technology spawns new problems which people believe can be fixed by  technologies. Ho ho ho.

Vibe shift? How about change emerging from those who are belatedly realizing the inherent problems of the Silicon Valley ethos.

Stephen E Arnold, March 21, 2022

The Google: More Personnel Excitement? Of Course!

March 19, 2022

Google has quite a few bright employees. In my experience, the current crop is delivering stubbier ears of corn than the 2002 digital farmers produced. But that’s just my opinion, of course. “Google Is Accused in Lawsuit of Systemic Bias Against Black Employees” reports:

Google maintains a “racially biased corporate culture” that favors white men, where Black people comprise only 4.4% of employees and about 3% of leadership and its technology workforce.

After the employee push back and the spectacular Dr. Timnit Gebru matter, Google has demonstrated that it at age 20 may have the equivalent of corporate Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. The confusion and shaking of Googzilla’s left foreleg may be signals, important signals.

The plaintiff is The plaintiff, April Curley. The write up adds:

Curley said Google hired her in 2014 to design an outreach program to historically Black colleges. She said her hiring proved to be a “marketing ploy,” as supervisors began denigrating her work, stereotyping her as an “angry” Black woman and passing her over for promotions. Curley said Google fired her in September 2020 after she and her colleagues began working on a list of desired reforms.

Google’s legal eagles will attempt to explain this away, probably proving that Ms. Curley is not a high school science club type.

But what about Dr. Gebru? Yeah, that may be an anomaly because …. Gentle reader, you fill in the reason.

Stephen E Arnold, March 19, 2022

Management: A Flaw of Information Technology Outfits

March 7, 2022

I read “Enterprise IT Finds Itself in a War Zone – With No Script. This is an interesting essay.

One passage about “management” and “leaders” struck me as on the money. Here it is:

the lack of leadership is the most pressing. That’s not the sector’s fault: effective embargoes need coherent and unambiguous  governmental and regulatory guidance, neither of which are visible.

The context is the turmoil roiling established business processes. When outfits like McKinsey & Co. of opioid fame pull out, something is up. I don’t think it is leadership. Management wants to avoid more problems.

For large technology companies run by confident wizardly individuals, the statement in the cited article cannot be dismissed. The essay, I believe, is accurate.  After all, if one commands billions of dollars and bytes, the political turmoil is not “our” problem.

The failure of management in the information technology sector is what Henry James’ wordy bother said. Each person has a “certain blindness.” I think this means that the companies struggling to respond to the “troubles” are unable to perceive what other see clearly.

With information technology becoming the lubricant for business, a lack of leadership suggests that the digital supercars racing down the information super highway have a higher probability of spinning out of control.

I would suggest the script is a variation of “Fast and Furious.” Just a terrible rewrite with a less happy ending.

Stephen E Arnold, March 7, 2022

Facebook Has Dictator-Like Control Of Platform

February 9, 2022

Russia is not shy when it comes to criticism. Russians usually target rival governments and politicians, but when they are driven it is not odd for a company or business leader to be in their critical crosshairs. Sputnik News is a Russian news service and it criticized Facebook for blocking it: “Muting Sputnik Arabic: Facebook Control Is Something Any Dictator Would Dream Of, Analysts Say.”

It is ironic that Facebook, a US-based company, where the first amendment in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights guarantees the right to freedom of speech, blocked the Arabic account of a Russian news outlet. If you did not catch the ironic bit, Russian is the former Soviet Union and as a socialist country it censored any undesirable information. Facebook Concierge Support did not explain why it blocked Sputnik’s Arabic account other than there was “potential non-compliance.” The Sputnik Arabic account has never been blocked, but some of its post have been flagged for “violating community standards.”

Facebook has silenced ideas it does not agree with in the past and this is yet another example of them doing it again. Facebook does not care about remaining neutral, the company only cares about its bottom line and controlling information.

Facebook whistleblower Ryan Hartwig said:

“ ‘The message from Facebook is clear: they have carte blanche to interfere in elections, influence politics, and control the news that Middle Easterners can be exposed to,’ Hartwig highlights. ‘This type of unilateral control of news and propaganda is only something dictators have dreamed of, and it’s being foisted on sovereign countries in the Middle East.’ According to the whistleblower, Facebook’s conduct is “extremely dangerous” because the platform is used by a substantial portion of netizens. ‘Free speech essentially doesn’t exist for the 3 billion users of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp,’ Hartwig stresses.

Facebook is a platform and a medium of discourse. It does not have the right to enact censoring in order to control the narrative. Instead Facebook is taking center stage in censorship as well as purporting that state-linked media is bad while privately owned social media is good.

Fortunately Facebook is already viewed as a toxic brand and younger generations see it as dated and meant for Baby Boomers. Facebook continues to control an interest in the media narrative, but time will erode its hold. It is too bad we have to wait for Facebook to lose its grip, but congratulations to Zuckerberg for drawing criticism from Russia! That is one heck of an accomplishment!

Whitney Grace, February 9, 2022

Google: Ethical Ethics and Managing Management

February 3, 2022

I read “Two More AI Ethics Researchers Follow Timnit Gebru Out of Google.” The write up includes this statement:

“In a word, tech has a whiteness problem. Google is not just a tech organization. Google is a white tech organization,” Hanna writes. “More specifically, tech organizations are committed to defending whiteness through the ‘interrelated practices, processes, actions and meanings,’ the techniques of reproducing the organization. In this case, that means defending their policies of recruitment, hierarchization, and monetization.”

I also noted this passage:

Hanna and Baker told Bloomberg they also believe Google has become less willing to listen to employees in recent years. They specifically pointed to the company’s pursuit of potential contracts from the Pentagon over the past and the very public objections of its workers.

Google reported record financial results. The company faces headwinds outside of hefty ad revenue generation. The question is, “Will the firm continue to thrive despite its apparent approach to handling certain topics (ethical artificial intelligence), staff composition (diverse), and political (alleged monopolistic behavior)?

My hunch is that just as Facebook’s customer acquisition has slowed, Google faces similar erosion; for example, technical debt costs, increased customer acquisition cost, and what I call “trust” cost. Will the numbers offset the intangibles of managing and messaging?

Will Dr. Gebru’s new venture identify the risks of Google’s approach to content management and shaping? Worth watching the antics of the Google in crowd it is.

Stephen E Arnold, February 3, 2022

Google Management: A Midas Touch for Some. Others? Nah.

January 31, 2022

There is nothing like great management in action. This recent pair of moves from Google, however, is anything but. Insider reports, “Google Boosted Base Pay for 4 Top Execs to $1 Million and Handed Them up to $34 Million in Stock, Weeks After Employees Raised Concerns About Pay and Inflation.” In this time of rapidly rising prices, one might ask, shouldn’t the company grant cost-of-living increases to all? Don’t be silly—if the executives paid workers enough to keep up with the costs of food and fuel, they would not have as many millions to sprinkle across the C-suite. Writer Martin Coulter tells us:

“According to a summary of executive salaries disclosed in SEC filings, the four Google execs — chief financial officer Ruth Porat, senior VP Prabhakar Raghavan, chief business officer Philipp Schindler, and legal chief Kent Walker — will see their annual salaries bumped from $650,000. All are also eligible for a $2 million bonus if they help Google to meet its ‘social and environmental goals’ for 2022. … As well as their increased annual pay, the executives were granted millions of dollars’ worth of performance and restricted stock units, which variously vest at different times and depend on the execs sticking around.”

Those stock units total $23 million for two of the four executives and $34 million for the other two. These lavish terms follow yet another very profitable quarter for the company. During those three months it took in over $65 billion, nearly $20 billion of which was pure profit. It seems Google believes only the top brass is responsible for these gains—what would rank-and-file workers have to do with it?

Having their request for pay commiserate with inflation rebuffed is but the latest grievance for Google workers. In The Verge’s piece, “Google Will Pay Top Execs $1 Million Each After Declining to Boost Workers’ Pay,” writer Jay Peters points out:

“The raises were also given as Google is embroiled in a legal battle with employees over charges that they were illegally fired in 2019. The employees are planning to call one of the recipients of a new $1 million salary, Kent Walker, to testify as an adverse witness. Employees are also reportedly dissatisfied with the company’s seemingly different remote work policies for higher-ups. In July, senior vice president for technical infrastructure Urs Hölzle announced he was moving to New Zealand, which two employees told CNET was emblematic of a double standard for executives.”

Google’s management methods are remarkable and well matched to the company’s objectives. The employees’ objectives? Hmmm.

Cynthia Murrell, January 31, 2021

Smooth Persuasion and Smoothie Excitement

January 27, 2022

I have seen the allegedly non deep fake video. I have scanned social media comments. And I read the definitive write up “A Top Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor Faces Charges after Hurling a Drink at a Smoothie-Store Employee and Making a Racist Remark, Police Say.” The write up reports:

A top financial advisor at Merrill Lynch was arrested and charged after he threw a drink at a worker at a smoothie store and made a racist remark during an altercation that appeared to arise from his son’s peanut allergy, the police said.

My hunch is that the “top financial advisor” assumed that the Smoothie professional knew his son’s medical history. The Smoothie professional prepared a Smoothie, including a compound known to trigger a response which can produce cardiac arrest or anaphylaxis, among other responses.

From my experience, “top financial advisors” can assume that anyone in their galaxy tunes into the music of the financial spheres. One tuned in, Smoothie orders and compliance with Wall Street type requests know what do do — now.

A failure to interact means that the ineffective employee will receive a harsh review when an annual people resources assessment takes place.

Several observations:

  1. The Smoothie professional failed to respond to the “top financial advisor’s” messaging outputs; therefore, that Smoothie professional is unlikely to be hired by a top New York money shop like a Merrill Lynch type of operation
  2. The “top financial advisor” appears to have the interpersonal skills suitable for a senior management role at a Silicon Valley-type of organization
  3. The verbal mastery of the alleged Smoothie critic uses crisp, no nonsense language; for example, according to the write up cited, “stupid, #$%#! ignorant high school kids” and “#$%#! immigrant loser.” Opportunities to join an online advertising copywriting team or possibly the outbound communications team at an artificial intelligence start up are likely to be plentiful.

To sum up: Another example of what I call the high school science club management method for interpersonal communications. Outstanding example indeed.

Stephen E Arnold, January 27, 2022

High School Science Club Perceptions: The Nobody Cares Posture

January 24, 2022

I try to note some of the management positions I prefer to classify as “high school science club management methods” or HSSCMM. The idea is that school boy ideas, beliefs, mental processes, and attitudes persist through the school boy’s ageing and developmental processes. The result is a series of breath-taking management decisions. But a Duzie caught my attention as it was expressed in “Insider,” a Silicon Valley “real” news outfit which presents content to a click-adept audience.

The trigger for this post is the write up “Warriors Co Owner Chamath Palihapitiya Says the Ugly Truth Is Nobody Cares about What’s Happening to Uyghur Muslims in China? That makes the point, doesn’t it?

Several observations relative to my tallying of HSSCMM:

  1. This is similar to a high school science club member saying, “I don’t care if I can’t get a date for the prom. I can assemble a Heathkit.”
  2. The idea that a comment from a science club member to a person who is engaged in high school athletics, “No wonder you got a D in algebra.”
  3. The notion that lesser entities are irrelevant; for example, a high school science club member once said to my female pal Linda Mae, “Why are you working at the Salvation Army this Thanksgiving? There are plenty of jobs for those people.”

Linda Mae, I wish to add, graduated in the Top 10 of our class and went on to work in Africa as a health care provider for 40 years. Yep, Linda Mae, the time wasting do gooder helping those people.

To sum up: HSSCMM can put one’s teeth on edge. But those people are wonderful managers. Just ask some of those doing the resignation thing or applying for work at Dr. Timnit Gebru’s new firm DAIR, which may not purchase season tickets to Warrior basketball games.

Stephen E Arnold, January 24, 2022

Be More Like Elon, Bill, and Jeff: Read These Books

January 20, 2022

I read an amusing write up called “These Are the 25 books That Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates Think You Should Read to Get Smarter about Business and Leadership.” I would have suggested a little more tame headline; for example, “Did You Read These Books Yet?”

Why would I suggest a plain vanilla headline and a slightly less enthusiastic approach to a list of books?

Here are my reasons:

  1. Bill Gates has some interesting email accusations in his past, and there is the allegation that he found Jeffrey Epstein a person with whom time might be spent in a productive way. Elon Musk has the non-shipping self driving thing and the vapor cyber truck. Jeff — ah, the creator of the Bezos bulldozer which crushes that which is in its path — has the space cowboy thing going to complement some mobile pix.
  2. The books pour fuel on the ethos of the Silicon Valley vision. Do I need more Silicon Valley? Do I want to experience another Theranos moment complete with private text messages? Answer: Nah, I am okay.
  3. Equating making lots and lots of money with literary taste is similar to the Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback suggesting a play for the final seconds of a game. Amusing but unproductive.

Some of the books strike me as having value. However, the endorsement of three individuals with colorful personalities and — we must not forget — tons of money, interesting personal behaviors, and scintillating personalities does not enhance in my view.

Wow. Benjamin Franklin’s biography. Didn’t that esteemed American get booted from France as a result of some interaction with servants? Yep, super intelligent. Robots, seeing stones, and a book about companies built to last until the firms drop off the Fortune 1000 list.

Leadership. Business. Outstanding.

Stephen E Arnold, January 20, 2022

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