Google employees have it good. They make lots of money (the median salary at Google is nearly $250,000), enjoy beautiful offices, extraordinary perks and an altruistic mission: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
That hasn’t stopped them from giving a big chunk of their 2020 presidential donations to candidates who’ve said they will break up big tech companies like Google and limit their power. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, candidates known for their grassroots support and who are leading the charge to break up Big Tech, received the highest number of donations out of all presidential candidates from Google employees. But these tech workers don’t hate their jobs. In fact, they think breaking Google up would be good for it.
Their support for candidates who are critical of Big Tech seems to reflect a broader movement among corporate tech employees who have begun demanding more ethical behavior and policies from their companies. In the past year, many tech employees, particularly at Google, have organized and protested against their own employers over concerns related to sexual harassment policies and controversial defense contracts with the U.S. and foreign governments. In candidates like Warren and Sanders, these employees find an outside voice who similarly views major technology companies’ growing and unprecedented power with a critical lens. And for the first time, companies like Google have become major talking points in the presidential campaign.
Google employees are putting their support behind Warren and Sanders because they don’t think antitrust action would hurt Google much. A number of them told Recode that Warren’s plan to regulate Google might be better for it in the long run, and would even be in line with Google’s own ethos.
“I’m just not a big believer it’s going to hurt us if they break it up,” a software engineer based in California told Recode. “It will not reduce the value of the company.”
He added, “When Larry and Sergey formed Alphabet, part of the thinking is that the companies would be smaller and more agile. Breaking Google up further would further their plan.”