Google has historically maintained an open culture with employees having a lot of input into internal affairs. One aspect to this is a weekly “TGiF” town hall that is a company-wide broadcast. However, founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin haven’t attended these meetings in 2019.
Despite the acronym, TGiF at Google is no longer held on Fridays, but rather Thursday afternoons to better allow all employees from around the world to participate. These meetings typically involve a presentation about a new product or feature, with a Q&A session following after. This gives employees the chance to directly question top executives.
According to BuzzFeed today, the Google co-founders have not attended any of these meetings in 2019. Larry Page is currently the CEO of Alphabet, while Sergey Brin is President. Historically, at least one — if not both — would attend and be able to answer questions.
Google employees describe this no-show as the “longest attendance lapse in company history,” dating back to at least 1999.
For years, Page and Brin have attended, either individually or together, and faced questions from Google’s rank and file about the company and its direction. Asked when their last TGIF appearance was, Google declined to comment.
A source speaking to BuzzFeed says this absence isn’t “entirely unexpected” given that TGiF is just for Google employees, not Alphabet where Page and Brin spend the majority of their time. In theory, questions should be directed at Sundar Pichai and the team under him. However, the founders were present throughout the Alphabet reorganization and the most of 2018.
Google did not comment on the absence, which could reflect a tightening of the open culture. For example, TGiF recordings are no longer saved in perpetuity and now removed after a few weeks. Their absence comes amid various internal controversies in the past year from sexual harassment to military projects.