I don’t know about you, but I am watching closely to see how Google ultimately deals with the recent problem it’s had in China. You would have to be in a coma not to have seen the news about what Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have called a "highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property." They are now looking at potentially leaving China because they no longer want to remain silent about these attacks and they no longer want to censor their search engine in China, something that has been required of them since 2006.
CEO Eric Schmidt argues that the company should take the moral high ground–stick it out and fight to change the regime so businesses have more freedom to operate without censorship. Is he serious? Take on the Chinese government? It is not the role of a public company to tackle huge political and social issues–it’s their job to protect their shareholders’ investment. Fortunately, founders Page and Brin are serious about protecting the integrity of the company, and in their official blog they have spoken out about their decision to no longer do business as usual in China. It’s a brave and admirable stance, especially given that many other U.S. companies claim that it’s simply the price of doing business in China.
Everyday entrepreneurs face challenges that test their integrity and business ethics. Unfortunately, many cave under the guise of when in Rome…I hope that Google doesn’t give in. It would be so refreshing to see a company in this kind of situation stand firmly on its principles–yes, it will cost them market share, but when you sacrifice your integrity, the price is much higher because you can never pay enough to get it back.