Does Being Evil Work for Business?

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You’re thinking I’ve lost it. Maybe I have. But I’m not the one to blame here. It’s the facts and numbers that are perhaps proving that being evil does work. Who would have thought, that in the day of the internet, where everything and everyone is criticized, a company would literally force you to use a service and it would actually… work?

Yes I am talking about Google. Go ahead, call Google Plus a ghost town, I know I do. Say that it will never be successful, I do that too. As my fellow colleague, Francesco, pointed out to me however, Google Plus now has more monthly users than twitter. Confirmed. With 300million users, that is more than twitter’s 218 million. Further proving that “evil works” is Google’s ($GOOG) stock price. It is now trading around $1100+ on NASDAQ. That’s up more than 55% from one year a go.

Last year, Google forced us to use our Google Plus accounts for youtube comments. This year, they have made it easier for others to email you without you ever giving them your email address- just by adding you in one of their circles on Google Plus.

Google’s motto is “don’t be evil”. Sure.

You would think that users would be mad. You would think that this forcefulness so that Google Plus becomes the new Facebook and Google builds an as-accurate profile on you as Facebook has, to sell it to advertisers and make more money (boy that was a mouthful), would somehow backfire. But it hasn’t. The numbers are growing. So, doing evil business must work.

Well, I can’t say for sure, but my prediction is that it will backfire. I am a man of logic, and logic tells me that people will eventually react to this.

I was at a meeting earlier today when someone suggested that we used Google docs for keeping meeting minutes. All of a sudden the group reacted: “That’s not safe!”. Not safe?! I smiled. I thought to my self that Microsoft’s messages that you are getting “Scroogled” are finally getting across. The more important question however is: is it Google’s own messages that are actually getting across? Have they simply accepted that they will be evil from now on?

Like Jeff Bezos once said, “Companies come and go. Every business will eventually be disrupted, it’s inevitable”. In my opinion, Google is pushing it with their behavior. Sure, investors love it: higher profit margins, big numbers on Google Plus (probably not accurate), faster ROI, but Google is walking on a thin line here. As soon as the first big wave of users start departing however, my prediction is that so will all of Google’s glory – that is, if they don’t change how things are run. It has happened before and it will happen again.

So if you’re asking yourself, should I be evil to be successful? Don’t be. The beauty of the free enterprise world is that you can build products to help improve the lives of people. To innovate, to make people happy, to make people’s lives easier. That is what you should focus on. What is happening at Google is a perfect example of what happens when things start going wrong. You lose your focus from your original goal. Google didn’t start this way however. You shouldn’t either.

Angelos is enthusiastic about all things tech and innovation. He is a big fan, and an advocate, of interdiscipline collaboration. He holds a BS in Construction Management, a Minor in Business Management and is currently working toward completing his MS in Project Management and Corporate Communication.