Big Tech is due for meaningful regulation in the United States from both sides of the political aisle. On the Democratic one, several presidential candidates — most notably Elizabeth Warren — have laid out plans on how they would break up companies. Interviews with Googlers reveal that some support regulatory action.
Recode conducted interviews with Google employees that donated to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Many of the engineers believe that breaking up Google could “help consumers and spur more tech innovation by allowing for more competition from upstarts.”
In the first half of 2019, Googlers donated $87,000 to the pro-regulatory Warren campaign. The senator has the most thorough proposals, including breaking up Waze, Nest, and DoubleClick from Google. Meanwhile, $73,300 has been donated to Mayor Pete Buttigieg, $58,266 to Sanders, and $54,845 to Senator Kamala Harris.
The employees do not think breaking up Google would hurt the company. One engineer argued that it would be an extension of the Alphabet reorganization in 2015 that saw self-driving and life sciences split into independent companies. Another belief is that Google could handle and adapt to any regulation.
Some even said they thought regulation could force Google itself to return to its startup roots, recreating the bootstrapped work culture that they say enabled the company’s initial success
More broadly, the Googlers interviewed by Recode believe that a robust pro-regulatory policy favored by Warren and other Democrats would benefit the entire tech industry. They are willing to take a paycheck cut if society improves from a reduction of power in the hands of a few companies. It reflects how Google employees are especially prone to activism and internal protests to guide management to more moral and ethical decisions.