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Eric Schmidt on Don’t-Be-Evil: “Stupidest Rule Ever”

(Relax, that was a link bait title – he said he thought that at first but eventually realized the value of it.)

NPR interviewed Google’s chair Eric Schmidt, you can listen to it here, though it’s long and not top-shelf Schmidt, not his A game in terms of saying many stunningly odd things to be twisted to even odder degrees when quoted out of context. Though he did field a question on the origins of Google’s Don’t Be Evil slogan which I found interesting:

Well, it was invented by Larry and Sergey, and the idea was that we don’t quite know what evil is, but if we have a rule that says don’t be evil, then employees can say, ‘I think that’s evil.’ Now, when I showed up, I thought this was the stupidest rule ever, because there’s no book about evil except maybe the Bible or something. So I’m sitting in this meeting, and we’re having this debate about an advertising product. And one of the engineers pounds his fists on the table and says, ‘That’s evil.’ And then the whole conversation stops, everyone goes into conniptions and we stopped the project. So it did work.

Regarding Google Glass, everyone’s favorite punching bag, Schmidt did concede that there are certain situations in which they should not be used, if you “shall we say,” “catch my drift.” I sort of catch the drift but could you spell that out for the record anyway Schmidt?

Did you know that Google Maps came out of engineers on their 20% time?

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