Where did the slogan "Don't Be Evil" come from?

  • Transfer

  • Sergey Brin.
  • Stacy Sullivan.
  • Hiroshi Yamauchi.
  • Paul Buheit.
  • Amit Patel.
  • Marissa Mayer.
  • Google.
  • Nintendo.
  • Pugwash Student Conference.

Dear Quote Investigator, Google was founded in 1998 and a few years later one of the employees offered this company a motto:
Don't be evil (Don't Be Evil).
Could you investigate the origin of this slogan?

Quote Investigator: The earliest strong evidence found by QI was found on a page called “Excellent Google Jobs,” which once existed at the following address:

Access to the historical content of the page can be obtained using the Internet archive service Wayback Machine . The screenshot taken on March 27, 2002 contained the text:
In short, Google’s goal is to do important things that matter to many people. Striving to achieve this goal, we have developed a set of values ​​that guide us in the process, including one of our most cherished core values: "Do not be evil."
- source
The page also lists “10 things with which Google agrees”; number six was thematically related:
We can earn money without harming anyone.
The motto is attributed to two former employees of Google: Paul Buheita, one of the creators of Gmail and the engineer Amit Patel. Date of appearance of the motto varies from 1999 to 2001. Details are given below.

The following are additional selected quotes in chronological order.

In 1990, The Seattle Times published a long article on the top Nintendo video game. The journalist asked billionaire President Hiroshi Yamauchi about ethical values ​​that he would like to convey, and Yamauchi listed principles similar to those associated with Google a decade later:
What does Nintendo do with a large audience of children and adults? Does Nintendo, like Disney, try to teach moral values? Should they try? What can they teach?

“Reflecting on the fact that the history of our gaming software is designed to avoid doing evil and practicing virtue, Nintendo teaches moral values ​​in the same way that Walt Disney does,” was the answer.

a source
1990 December 16th, Seattle, Seattle, Washington. (Newsbank Access World News)
In 1999, the Contra Costa Times of Walnut Creek, California, published an article on the movement that encouraged scientists to make an ethical oath or promise. This position was supported by the speaker at the Pugwash Student Conference. The title of the article included a version of the analyzed statement:
Scientists are considering whether to take the oath “not to cause evil”.

Since ancient times, the Hippocratic oath and its message to doctors “do no harm” served as a kind of ethical compass for doctors.

Scientists have no such equivalent, although their work increasingly affects them in matters of moral, ethical, humanitarian and social nature.

a source
1999 August 14, Contra Costa Times, Section: News, Scientists Weigh Taking an Oath To Do No Evil by Karen Brandon, Quote Page A09, Walnut Creek, California. (Newsbank Access World News)
By March 2002, the motto was displayed on the Google domain page, as mentioned earlier in this article.

In December 2002, “The Daily Record” from Baltimore, Maryland, attributed this motto to programmer Sergey Brin, who created Google with another graduate student Larry Page:
As one of the founders, Sergey Brin, says: “Don't be evil.” In 2002, the incredibly inventive Google launched Google News, where you can find and view 4000 constantly updated news sources ...

a source
2002 December 24, The Daily Record, Commentary: 2002: The year pop-ups went down by Hollis Thomases, Baltimore, Maryland. (Newsbank Access World News)
In 2007, comments from Google engineer Paul Buheit were posted on Google Blogoscoped, who claimed that he proposed a motto during a corporate meeting in early 2000:
I believe that this happened sometime in early 2000, there was a meeting at which it was necessary to discuss the values ​​of the company. They invited many people who have worked in the company for a long time.

It just occurred to me that “Don't be evil” is ridiculous. It also partly prompted many other companies, especially our competitors, who at that time, in our opinion, exploited users to some extent.

But the funny thing was that people are uncomfortable when they meet with something different from the norm. Therefore, during the meeting, the person who headed it tried to push this motto to the bottom of the list. But the other guy, Amit Patel, and I, together with him, tried to make this motto listed.

- source

In 2008, the Australian “The Sydney Morning Herald” (translated as “Sydney Morning Herald”) published comments from Google spokeswoman Marissa Mayer, in which she attributed the motto to engineer Amitu Patel around 1999:
“This was not really the chosen motto, which everyone decided to stop at,” said Marissa Mayer, in an interview during her trip to Sydney last week, Google and an employee of the company for over 20 years ...

Meyer explained that The motto “Don't be evil” was coined in 1999 by one of Google’s first engineers, Amit Patel, who shared his workplace with Mayer.

- source
The widely studied book of 2011, “In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives,” journalist Stephen Levy said that the motto was formulated at a meeting held on July 19, 2001. The meeting was convened by Stacey Sullivan, the head of human resources department, which was also attended by about fifteen people, including: David Crane, Paul Buheit, Amit Patel, Joan Braddy, Marissa Meyer and Salar Kamangar. Sergey Brin and Larry Page were not at this meeting.

Sullivan intended to map out a set of corporate values ​​for Google. She asked the participants about their ideas, and wrote them down on a huge sheet located on the easel. Levi quoted Buheita, who said that he came up with a slogan:
“Therefore, I suggested something that will make people feel uncomfortable, but at the same time it will be interesting. It seemed to me that “Do not be angry” would be a catchy and interesting statement. And people laughed. But I said, "No, I'm serious."

The motto made Stacy Sullivan feel uncomfortable. He was so negative. “Can we not formulate something like“ Do the right thing ”or come up with something more positive?” She asked. Marissa and Salar agreed with her. But Buheit and Patel stood their ground.

a source
2011, In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy, Chapter 3: Don’t Be Evil: How Google Built Its Culture, Quote Page 143 and 144, Simon & Schuster, New York. (Google Books Preview)
In conclusion, the motto became publicly available on Google by March 2002. Paul Buhayt and Amit Patel advocated this motto at Google. QI believes that the data presented in the book “In the Plex” are probably the most reliable, and Bucheit confirmed this statement during a meeting in July 2001.

Years earlier in 1990, Nintendo leader Hiroshi Yamauchi used the phrase “do no evil and practice virtue” to describe the values ​​that Nintendo games should teach. The saying “Do not do evil”, by the way, is in the habit of being used not only for corporate purposes.

(Many thanks to Fred Shapiro, whose request inspired QI to formulate this question and conduct this research. Shapiro pointed to a valuable quote from December 2002. Special thanks to researcher Barry Popik, who studied this topic and found a screenshot of a web page containing Motto dated July 17, 2002 in Wayback Machine)

The translation was made with the support of the EDISON Software company, which is professionally engaged in web development and recently redesigned its website .

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