- REUTERS/Kimberly White
- Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have stopped turning up to Google’s weekly town hall meetings, BuzzFeed reports.
- According to BuzzFeed, the pair haven’t made an appearance at any of the 2019 meetings.
- The meetings – known as TGIF – have historically been a space where employees can question the cofounders about anything. Google has recently been contending with a series of internal backlashes.
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Although Google’s cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin handed over the reins to CEO Sundar Pichai in 2015, the pair have been a regular fixture at the company’s weekly town hall meetings – known internally as TGIF.
However, sources told BuzzFeed that they have been notably absent from the meetings since the beginning of this year. “I don’t think they’ve ever missed more than a few consecutively, and definitely not both… It’s a double act! One of them was consistently always there at minimum,” a Google employee told BuzzFeed.
The ‘Thank God It’s Friday’ meetings are when Google employees have historically been able to ask the cofounders anything. It’s not uncommon in Silicon Valley and Facebook holds similar weekly meetings, where any staff across the world can ask Mark Zuckerberg a question.
In recent months, Google has been wrestling with a fair amount of employee backlash.
Most recently, Googlers rose up after the company appointed the head of a right-wing think tank Kay Coles James to its AI ethics committee. A group called “Googlers Against Transphobia” quickly amassed more than a thousand employee signatures calling for her removal, describing her as “anti-trans” and “anti-immigrant.” The AI ethics council was disbanded a week later.
Google’s leadership has also faced internal pushback from on its development of a censored search engine in China. Executives were challenged on this issue during a TGIF in August last year, with their comments being leaked to New York Times reporter Kate Conger as the meeting was proceeding.
But the biggest employee upheaval came in November last year when 20,000 Googlers walked out in protest of sexual harassment at the company. The walkout was sparked by a New York Times report on the payout Google gave former executive Andy Rubin after he was accused of sexual misconduct. Rubin denies any wrongdoing.
An organiser behind the walkout described the disastrous TGIF which preceded the protest, saying that employees “brought their outrage,” and found management’s response to be lacking.
Google was not immediately available to comment on Page and Brin’s attendance when contacted by Business Insider.