Shareholders Call for Breakup of Google’s Parent Company

Shareholders of Alphabet—Google’s holding company—plan to vote Wednesday on a resolution calling for the search-and-advertising giant to study a breakup.

Citing concerns about human rights abuses, anticompetitive practices, privacy breaches, data leaks and illegal location tracking, the proposed resolution urges Alphabet to study ways to make executives more accountable to shareholders.

Activists plan to amplify the message by demonstrating outside at least 15 Google offices around the globe, including, of course, its headquarters in Mountain View.

The declaration describes a company that has become too vast and too complex to rein in as it incurs allegations of human rights violations and other risks that threaten to undermine shareholder value. It cites sexual harassment scandals and the development of “Project Dragonfly,” a censored search engine for China, as proof of a corporate culture out of alignment with shareholder values. Click here to read the full resolution.

The upcoming vote follows months of opposition to Google from within its own ranks.

In November, an open letter from Google employees implored executives to drop Project Dragonfly on ethical grounds. That same month, about 20,000 staffers and contractors—about a fifth of the company’s workforce—staged a walkout after Google offered multi-million-dollar payouts to three male executives accused of sexual misconduct.

Last summer, employees launched a petition citing ethical concerns over Project Maven, a controversial contract to build artificially intelligent spycraft for the Pentagon.

U.K. investment group Hermes and shareholder advisory service I.S.S. are reportedly both backing the resolution pushing for board-level accountability by creating a “societal risk oversight committee.”

Christine Chow, who helms Hermes’ shareholder service EOS, promised to speak in favor of the resolution at Alphabet’s annual general meeting this week. “The establishment of this committee will ensure that the company’s technology and its impact on society is considered and focused on at the very top of the organization,” she said in a news release.

Alphabet filed a statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) asking stockholders to vote against the resolution. It argued that the company already devotes “significant resources” to address its impact on society

Among those resources are a billion bucks the company just announced it would invest in expanding the housing stock here in the Bay Area, where 45,000 of its employees live.

In a blog post today, Google CEO Sundar Pichai detailed plans to repurpose $750 million worth of the company’s land to make way for 20,000 new homes. Nonprofits that help the homeless will get $50 million and another $250 million will go toward an investment fund to incentivize developers to build below-market-rate residential units.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo applauded the news, which comes amid fears that the search company’s planned move to downtown will drive up rents and displace residents.

“For several months, we have encouraged Google to make a bold commitment to address our region’s affordable housing challenge,” he said. “We look forward to working with Google to ensure today’s announcement manifests into housing that will benefit thousands of San Jose residents struggling under the burden of high rents.”

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

19 Comments

  1. >> San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo <<

    aka

    Retardo

    This is just a scam for Google to build employee housing. Sounds like a company town.

  2. People of Santa Clara County and every where else; it is time we address and fight the big evil in our backyard and those supporting its cause, Liccardo and county supervisors. They have and continue to push out our long-term low and middle income residents out of the area in order to house their out of state and country employees. It is time to vote google’s Supporters out!

  3. It is amusing to watch how Working Partnerships and their far-left echo chambers in the local media (Wadsworth, DeRuy, everyone at Spotlight) are struggling to find their feet after Google has *completely demolished* their talking points about local tech companies and housing. Look for more muttering about “first steps,” “not enough,” and “but what about the homeless?” as they reorganize for another shakedown effort. The truth is many progressive don’t want to fix the housing crisis (that would mean rezoning the city and streamlining buiding regulations), but rather want a club to redlistribute monies from big successful companies. It will be delicious to be a spectator to their squirming.

    • Experts do not agree with you ROSEN, Tech companies are the main factor of the housing crisis in the Bay Area. Google alone will donate 1billion to address the housing crisis. DO YOU HOMEWORK! You appear to dislike Jeniffer a lot. Your constant attacks against her are very obvious. Not everyone in the Bay Area is a milliner, those you appear to support. We have a lot of smart and decent people that truly care about the community. We voted out Persky and I hope Jeff Rosen is next!!

      • Hi Fexxnist. Most of the research I have done on the housing crisis suggests that the problem is a supply problem: mainly that cities make it virtually impossible to build more housing, especially affordable housing, via zoning, regulations, etc. That’s not the tech companies’ fault and I don’t see why they should have to pay for the cities bowing to their NIMBY residents. Re: Jennifer: i think she’s a very good writer, she has a great easy, readable, winning style. I have met her socially and I think she seems smart and strong and great as a person. But she often reads like a progressive operative instead of a fair journalist, and I wish she would be more of the latter and less of the former.

  4. Bubble, Kamala is a realistic candidate that believes in fixing the here and now and the future problems by creating the means to help people achieve the life and happiness they want. This requires acknowledgement that some students for example have to worry about their food and housing then passing their classes. California alone would not have enough money to pay reparations to the Natives, Mexicans, and slave decedents. The past cannot be fixed only the today and the future! #kamalaharrisforthepeople

  5. > People of Santa Clara County and every where else; it is time we address and fight the big evil in our backyard and those supporting its cause, Liccardo and county supervisors.

    FEXXY:

    Check this out!

    If you want to get rid of corrupt politicians, here’s an idea:

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/homelessness-crisis-spurs-recall-effort-against-los-angeles-mayor-eric-garcetti/

    “Homelessness crisis spurs recall effort against Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti”

    I predict that if the Garcetti recall effort goes anywhere, it will spread like wildfire.

    It would result in recalls of SF Mayor London Breed, San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo, Governor Gavin Newsom, and others.

    The people are in an ugly mood over things like “the homeless crisis” and “healthcare for illegal aliens”.

  6. > Dear Fexxnist: May I offer you some suggested reading?:

    > https://www.quora.com/What-should-you-do-after-you-lose-an-argument

    ELLEN:

    “Winning” and “losing” arguments is important mainly for people who have to make a living by arguing. Lawyers for example.

    An “argument” is just a dialogue whose purpose SHOULD be to discover the truth.

    I classify arguments into two categories:

    1. “Socratic dialogue”, which is back-and-forth exchange intended to uncover refined understanding of truth. Socratic dialogue requires the acceptance of the real possibility that one may have to change one’s mind about something.

    2. “Sophistic monogue”, which is pronouncement and defense of a “narrative”. Sophistic “arguments” are not really about winning or losing an argument, since a sophist regards their belief in their argument as evidence that they have already “won” the argument. They have succeeded in convincing the smartest person they know, which is themselves. For a sophist to change their mind is an admission that they were NOT as smart as they believed, and is therefore is a “loss”.

    Unless you are a lawyer, you can save yourself a lot of frustration and self-doubt by simply giving up the idea of “winning” an argument with a sophist. If you should demolish an argument about the sophist’s narrative, the sophist will simply respond with a backup argument for the same narrative.

    Facts may change. Arguments may change. The narrative doesn’t change.

    Bringing a “Socratic” mindset to any argument is the secret to inner piece. As Socrates taught, by embracing the stronger argument, even if it means changing your mind, you are always on the side of the stronger argument.

    Our system of jurisprudence is a clever harnessing of sophistic argumentation (“lawyering”) to Socratic dialogue (“cross examination and jury deliberation”).

  7. Thank you Bubble for taking care of the ones with the least neuronal potential. I truly care for all the disadvantaged individuals including Ms. ROSEN!

    • Hi Bubble, I appreciate your explication of socratic argument, you make a lot of good points. Especially this observation, as it pertains to our colleague FEXXNIST:

      “If you should demolish an argument about the sophist’s narrative, the sophist will simply respond with a backup argument for the same narrative.”

      Her response to your, and my, posts proves your point. Although I will add that FEXXNIST brings a new wrinkle: while being demolished, FEXXNIST acknowledeges demoliton by pivoting to unimaginative name-calling, which is typical of not just sophists, but also Trump and progressives, especially when they are being whomped.

      BTW I am not a lawyer although I have dated some.

      • Demolished? Your use of words shows the egocentric traits of your arguments and more likely than not personality. Google and other tech companies have engaged in bringing employees from other parts of the country and other countries to take the jobs San Jose State University student would not obtain even if graduating with the same degree. Low and middle income families have been displaced, so Google employees take those home at higher rent. You may be in the business of winning arguments; I am not. If I was, I would have chosen a career in law. I am a provider person centered. What we learn in my field is about the abusive systems in societies and the power of media in society. Those with more money and influence control the media and the messages they want people to hear. These abusive and corrupted systems work against the majority of the people and benefit the few. Google controls our local politicians and you are a walking PR for them. SHAME ON YOU ROSEN!

      • > but also Trump and progressives, especially when they are being whomped.

        Not so fast!

        Trump changes his mind.

        “Progressives” only change their minds in herds, otherwise they don’t.

        The conventional wisdom or the political class is that a politician that changes his mind is a “flip flopper” and, therefore, not credible or trustworthy.

        A well-known politician was once challenged for changing his position on something or other. His response was: “when the facts change, I change my position. What do you do?”

        I am generally not bothered when a politician changes from the wrong position to the right position.

        • Talk about positivism and post positivism mentality! ‘When facts change, I change my position.” Those opened to life-long learning are also opened to life-long changes! Diversity of the species and the mind is necessary in order to achieve evolution! Scientific evidence is current until it is not! I am opened to changes but closed minded about giving tech companies a pass to displace our low and middle income families.

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