Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Don't Be Evil

Sneaky tax dodging Google executive Eric Schmidt has been plastering himself all over the press defending his company's anti-social tax avoidance as "Capitalism".

 The Inquirer

Erm Google?

Google's famous motto is "Don't Be Evil" and this is backed up by their code of conduct. They take this quite seriously...

We expect all of our employees and Board members to know and follow the Code. Failure to do so can result in disciplinary action, including termination of employment.

I wonder how he feels holding himself up to Section III Avoiding conflicts of interest where it states...

Would this activity embarrass Google or me if it showed up on the front page of a newspaper or a blog?

While it might not embarrass him - he seems 'dance a little jig' happy with the arrangement - does it embarrass Google? I suppose we'll only know if we see him carrying a cardboard box of family photos and mugs full of pens out of reception escorted by a confused security guard.

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  1. If the "very proud" statement is truly in the context of :

    "I'm very proud that we [quite legally] avoid paying virtually any tax in the UK - it keeps the shareholders happy, reduces the competition from smaller competitors who don't have an international escape route for their profits - and i might even get me a bonus out of it" and places that in the realms of "that's capitalism", completely ignoring consumer expectations of fairness, decency and corporate responsibility;

    then I'd say that *should* be an embarrassment to Google & him as he comes across as a pompous, arrogant, ignorant arse
    (that's "Ass" in the America vernacular if you're reading this Google! )

    P.s. ironically, in posting this, I have too do a recaptcha test that is helping Google translate images of house numbers from streetview into numbers to improve Google maps/navigation.

  2. P.p.s
    I thing the fact Starbucks moved to grant some concession to pay more tax highlights the bit of Capitalism that's failing in the case of Google and Amazon (I've heard Microsoft mentioned too, but without any details).

    With Google and Amazon, there simply isn't a like for like competitor for either.

    E.g. if I want a coffee while walking through the streets of my local city of Bath; th ere are several Starbucks to choose from, but there are also at least one of all of the following in close proximity:
    Cafe Nero, Costa, Pret a manger, McDonald's/Burger King (well, they do sell coffee), krispy creme (not sure that's how you spell it).

    Not to mention department store cafes, the wealth of independent cafes, tea rooms and snack bars in Bath.

    For Google and Amazon, I don't have that level of choice. I've heard John Lewis are very reliable for online shopping, an Tesco are pretty good, eBay has the 3rd party sellers and wide range of goods, Kobo etc. has ebooks, the highstreet have flexibility

    where's the other companies with single sign on, integrated services, 3rd party sellers, low prices (though maybe thats where the unpaid tax ends up), ebook sales, letterbox friendly packaging, membership benefits, no quibble returns, good customer service etc. etc. under one virtual roof?
    There isn't one. It's the Amazon hypermarket vs. 1000's of desperately independents and huge-but-far-smaller-than-Amazon companies.

    Likewise there are other search engines, other price comparisons, other mapping software/websites/mobile apps, other mobile operating systems, non-Google tied versions of Android (one of which is from Amazon!), other social networks, email, corporate apps/management tools, video chat, phone and tablet hardware, document editors, online storage, web browsers, online & mobile advertising tools, blogging sites, local business listings, smart tv systems, ebook/android app/ movie/music stores, etc. etc. etc. but nobody has all of that under one roof, and importantly one login. Plus many of the global firms competing in some of the many pies in which Google has its fingers have either their own tax avoidance issues, or other corporate responsibility worries like working conditions in Chinese factories...

    My Conclusion?
    Bottom line, is that it's an abuse of a strong market position to avoid tax. Consumers don't appear to like the tax avoidance, but in the absence of the level of competition seen in the highstreet coffeeshop trade, choice is limited & consumers end up spending with the firms whose activities they disapprove of, paying the cost with a little piece of their soul.