Motto: Don’t Be Evil

Sergey Brin? Stacy Sullivan? Hiroshi Yamauchi? Paul Buchheit? Amit Patel? Marissa Mayer?

Organization: Google? Nintendo? Student Pugwash Conference?

Dear Quote Investigator: Google was founded in 1998, and after a few years one of its employees suggested the following company motto:

Don’t be evil.

Would you please explore the provenance of this slogan?

Quote Investigator: The earliest solidly dated evidence located by QI appeared on a webpage titled “Great Jobs at Google” which once existed at the following web address:

www.google.com/jobs/great-people-needed.html

The historical content of the page can be accessed via the Wayback Machine of the Internet Archive. A snapshot dated March 27, 2002 displayed the following text in a column on the far left of the page. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

In a word, Google’s goal is to do important stuff that matters to a lot of people. In pursuit of that goal, we’ve developed a set of values that drive our work, including one of our most cherished core values: “Don’t be evil.”

The page also listed “10 Things Google has found to be true”; number six was thematically related:

You can make money without doing evil.

The motto has been credited within Google to two different early employees: Paul Buchheit, one of the creators of Gmail, and engineer Amit Patel. The date of origin varies between 1999 and 2001. Details are given further below.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Motto: Don’t Be Evil

Notes:

  1. Internet Archive: Wayback Machine, Web capture date: March 27, 2002, Archive download URL: www.google.com/jobs/great-people-needed.html, Title: Great Jobs at Google. (Accessed at web.archive.org on November 6, 2018) link