For the past six months, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page have been absent from the company’s all-hands TGIF meetings. That changed at the last meeting, with both Brin and Page in attendance. Many analysts are wondering why.
Previous to their six-month absence, both Brin and Page had been long-standing attendees of the weekly catch-up meetings for executives and employees of Google.
The meetings, which actually happen on Thursday so employees around the world can participate, have been a key part of Google’s workplace culture since the early days of the company.
In them, Google leaders speak to more than 100,000 employees, highlight new products and projects, make announcements, take questions and respond to cultural ripples.
For example, after the last presidential election, Brin called then-President-elect Donald Trump’s victory “offensive” at a Google TGIF meeting.
However, as Google’s public issues have grown, both co-founders have stopped showing for the meetings. Right now, Google is facing an antitrust prove from the Department of Justice as well as censorship and political bias from conservative users.
That’s not to mention internal scrutiny, including employees openly questioning the company’s role in drone footage analysis AI named Maven as well as a search project for China called Dragonfly.
Recently, YouTube, which is owned by Google, came under fire after refusing to take down videos of a conservative comedian spewing homophobic slurs at a gay Vox journalist named Carlos Maza. Many saw Brin and Page’s absence as the dodging of accountability during a period of great public scrutiny.
When they broke their silence at the May 30 meeting, they discussed cloud strategy. Other questions were handled by Head of People Operations Eileen Naughton. It is unclear whether the co-founders will continue to attend.