Investors in Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) enjoy strong stock price growth, relative stability, and reassurance knowing that their money is secured in one of the largest tech companies in the world. Of course, continued growth is always something that investors and executives want, and the potential to connect Google to over 1 Billion people in the Chinese market is something that many have dreamed of. Unfortunately, for anyone who was waiting for this to happen, it doesn’t look like Google will be releasing their search engine in China any time soon. In a recent town hall meeting with staff, CEO Sundar Pichai put rumors to rest by saying that google is nowhere near launching in the elusive market.
Employees Raise Ethics Concerns
The Chinese government tightly controls domestic internet, routinely blocking sites and services that do not comply with censorship regulations. Google’s search engine, the world’s largest and most popular, has been out of China since 2010, and for the company to re-launch it would need to make sweeping changes to ensure that search results do not breach censorship laws.
Google staff have been worried that the company would push forward with a Chinese launch, offering a search service that would heavily filter and censor results. More than 1,400 Google employees signed a petition of protest in August, stating that any launch of Google in compliance with Chinese censorship would “raise urgent moral and ethical issues.” Staff called for more transparency in Google’s high-level decision-making process, saying that “currently we do not have the information required to make ethically-informed decisions about our work, our projects, and our employment.”
Seemingly in direct response to the petition, Sundar Pichai told staff that “we are not close to launching a search product in China.” The CEO said that “whether we would do so, or could do so is all very unclear, but the team has been in an exploration stage for quite a while now and I think they are exploring many options.”
Search Engines Banned
YouTube and Gmail, two of Googles key services and revenue generators, are both banned in China. Google offered search in China in the past, however, their search presence was withdrawn after a dispute with the Chinese government in 2010.
China has over 100 million internet users with subscription rates growing rapidly. Google cannot ignore the market forever, and investors can likely expect reentry into the Chinese market within the next five years.
GOOGL closed at $1,215.85 after Friday trading. Stock has increased value by 15.42% so far this year, and 31.28% over the last 12 months. This stock continues to be an excellent investment for a long-term growth portfolio.
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