Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 


Companies like to make grand statements, at least once in a while.

It makes them feel more than just moneymaking machines.

And there are few more potent moneymaking machines than Google.

It's remarkable how a company whose founders rather disdained advertising suddenly managed to make so many billions out of, well, advertising.

Once a year, though, in line with many other vast corporations, Google likes to issue a Founders' Letter.

This year, it was written by the CEO (and non-founder) Sundar Pichai.

Pichai has rather been left with the mess bequeathed by founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

The company is enduring legal assaults from regulators, as well as increasing criticism from its own shareholders and employees.

But please don't worry. Everything is fine.

Why, Google even has a new mission.

Pichai explained in his letter that the original mission -- to organize the world's information and make it accessible all over the world -- is still relevant, but not quite the core anymore.

Instead, he said: 

Now we are focused on building an even more helpful Google for everyone. 

Even more helpful. And for everyone.

It's undoubted that Google's search engine has been the source of so much knowledge and the cause of so much mental laziness over the years.

When you Google something, you get things like facts, the truth and, occasionally, utterly fake nonsense.

Google works hard to eschew the last one. Well, it says it does.

Indeed, Pichai admits there's still a lot more to do in order to make the likes of YouTube a safe place for children. Or, indeed, for most adults. 

Yet he inadvertently reveals that by making an even more helpful Google for everyone, he's made Google's products even more helpful for precisely those with nefarious intentions.

Those who want to spread bigotry, loathing and political unrest, for example.

While it was organizing the world's information, Google was also allowing anyone and everyone to peddle the sorts of information that many might argue shouldn't have enjoyed such a free peddling.

Google appeared to do little or nothing, while it raked in cash.

The idea that Google is now going to be this astonishingly helpful entity has to be seen in a context in which Pichai himself is pleading for the company not to be broken up.

His argument is that Google must stay big so that it can invent the future. As he told CNN

Scale does offer many benefits, it's important to understand that. Big companies are what are investing in technologies like AI the most.

Well, yes. Because big companies have raked in so much cash from -- in many cases -- stalking people, invading their privacy and showing no qualms about it.

They can afford to invest because they have so much data to sell.

Does this mean, though, that little companies really can't invent the future? Or do they have to be bought by big companies in order to achieve scale?

It's fascinating how the likes of Facebook and Google manage to buy up smaller competitors -- or, occasionally, simply copy their offerings -- in order to maintain their world power.

I'm sorry, I mean in order to invent the future.

So this sudden turn toward being incredibly helpful feels a touch hollow and self-serving.

It's a sad aspect of life that when people discover who you really are, you make that extra effort to be nice.

Little do you know that it's often too late.