Consider this: billionaires suck.
Income inequality is at an all time high. The world’s 80 richest people have as much wealth as the poorest 50 percent. By 2016, Oxfam International predicts the richest one percent of people will own more than every other human on the planet. Billionaires, however, are not a necessary part of our great economy. They are, in fact, a giant vacuum sucking wealth from those who create it, and hoarding it until there’s none left for the rest of us.
So it’s time this circle-jerk of policy creation and wealth hoarding was opened up to the masses. In the second installment of Gawker’s ongoing series, the Billionaire Shit List, we peek inside the world of Larry Page, the world’s 19th richest man.
Who is he?
Sector he made his fortune?
How much is he worth?
What is he known for?
Page is the co-founder of Google, the former CEO of the company, and the current CEO of Alphabet, the new umbrella company created by Google’s board in August to encompass Google in addition to other ventures
Is he evil?
How evil is he?
Kind of evil. Like fellow Googler Sergey Brin (#20 on this list), Page doesn’t seem too concerned with unfairly influencing the (semi) democratic process of the U.S. with his billions. Unlike Brin, however, Page isn’t concerned with using his money for real good. Whereas Brin has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to various charities, Page once said he would rather give his money to fellow billionaire Elon Musk than to charity (he urged audience members at the TED Talk to do the same). Page apparently believes humanity would be better served helping Musk get to Mars than by helping... literally anything or anyone else. The millions Page has given to charity have gone to the Carl Victor Page Memorial Foundation, which he founded in 2006. The CVP Memorial Foundation doesn’t produce records on how its money gets spent.
But even Musk is worried about Page’s seemingly unwavering belief that advances in technology will always make the world a better place. Google has been developing an entire army of terrifying robots, some of which will likely be used by the U.S. military to kill people. “I’m really worried about this,” Musk said. “[Page] could produce something evil by accident.”
Page’s business practices also seem to be less-than-stellar. He’s been accused of ripping off ideas from several companies, most notably Oracle, which sued Google in 2010 for using its technology without paying. “Larry makes the decisions over there. He runs that company. No one else runs that company,” Oracle founder Larry Ellison said. “They decided—let me be very clear—when you write a program for the Android phone, you write using the Oracle Java tools, for everything. And at the very end, you press a button that said, ‘Convert this to Android format.’ We don’t compete with Google. We don’t do anything Google does. We just think they took our stuff and that was wrong...I think what they did was was absolutely evil.”
Page is also notoriously difficult to work for. He sends angry emails to engineers and seems to have no problem belittling people in front of others. One time, he unilaterally tried to fire all of the company’s product managers en masse because he decided the company needed a different direction.
Google likes to present itself as a company of ideas, but increasingly it’s one of physical products—robots, laptops and tablets, Android phones, and data centers—all of which have an impact on the environment. Its data centers in the U.S. consume 300 million watts of energy a year, about the equivalent of running 1 million dishwashers. In other countries, its environmental and labor practices are worse: in 2011, Google bought mobile phone manufacturer Motorola, a company which previously used sweatshop labor to produce its products (like some of Google’s Nexus phones).
“Sometimes I want to die,” one worker at a factory that produces Motorola products said. “I work like hell every day for such a dull life. I can’t find a reason to live. Given that living is too tiring, seeking death might not be a silly thing!”
Well, at least that worker is helping Larry Page maintain his position on Forbes’ list of the richest people in the world.