Current and former Googlers are furious that Larry Page and Sergey Brin stepped back instead of fixing the culture

A woman at the Google employee walkout in November 2018. Troy Wolverton/Business Insider
  • Current and former Googlers have expressed frustration at the decision of the cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to step back from Alphabet, Google’s parent firm.
  • On Tuesday, Page, Alphabet’s CEO, and Brin, its president, announced they would step down.
  • Sundar Pichai will replace Page as the CEO of Alphabet while retaining his role as the CEO of Google.
  • Activist employees at the company said many had hoped the cofounders would take on a more active and positive role at Google around issues such as employee organising, the firm’s treatment of those accused of sexual harassment, and its business with the Pentagon.
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Googlers past and present aren’t happy with Sergey Brin and Larry Page’s decision to leave Alphabet.

Several prominent current and Googlers tweeted their frustration after Page, Alphabet’s CEO, and Brin, its president, on Tuesday announced their decision to step down from their respective leadership roles.

Some employees had hoped the founders might step in and fix the company’s culture. Googlers have been protesting about various issues at the company, including what they say is its lenient treatment of those accused of sexual harassment, its business with the Pentagon, and its clampdown on internal activism.

Tom Karlo, a senior product manager at Google’s subsidiary YouTube, tweeted: “There was a subset of employees who thought the founders might come back and set things right, but today they essentially endorsed the status quo.”^tfw

Colin McMillen, a software engineer who left Google in January,tweeted that “this only seems to formalise what we already knew, which is that Larry & Sergey weren’t doing much.”

Rebecca Rivers, who was fired last month, tweeted that “instead of taking a stand for their employees,” Brin and Page were “abdicating their responsibilities and leaving us to suffer.”

“The proud and brave Larry and Sergey,” Rivers said.

The Twitter account of the prominent Google activist group Google Walkout For Real Change tweeted: “Here’s the thing: some had seriously hoped Sergey and Larry would step in and fix Google. Instead of righting the sinking ship, they jumped ship. Only workers like the #thanksgivingfour will fix Google.”

The group was behind the mass employee walkouts at Google in November 2018 over the company’s handling of sexual-harassment allegations. It has since broadened its focus to activism around other issues at the company.

The hashtag #thanksgivingfour is a reference to four Googlers, including Rivers, fired last month over what Google called “clear and repeated violations” of its data-security policies. The decision prompted accusations of “union-busting” at the tech giant.

Laurence Berland, one of the fired quartet, tweeted on Tuesday: “Guess they really really wanted to get the press attention off of us organisers, huh?”

Page and Brin, who cofounded Google in 1998, will remain members of Alphabet’s board of directors and retain controlling voting shares of the company. Sundar Pichai will replace Page as the CEO of Alphabet while retaining his role as the CEO of Google.

In an open letter on Tuesday announcing their resignation, Page and Brin wrote: “We’ve never been ones to hold on to management roles when we think there’s a better way to run the company. And Alphabet and Google no longer need two CEOs and a President.”

They added: “We believe it’s time to assume the role of proud parents – offering advice and love, but not daily nagging!”