China and Google: Two nations at warMarch 23, 2010: 10:51 AM ET
I don't know about you, but I'd rather live in Google than in China. That's why, as the armies line up today to begin what could very well be a protracted war between these two great nations, my home will be flying the flag of the guys from Mountain View, not Beijing.
First of all, people who live in Google have 20% of their time to do whatever they want. That's a really nice thing for all those citizens of Google to enjoy, since it's my understanding that citizens of China have less than 1% of their time to do what they want, unless what they want involves riding a bicycle, in which case they have almost 100% of their time to do that.
People in Google can dress as they desire, pretty much, as long as they don't wear a tie or uncomfortable shoes. Most citizens of China, on the other hand, don't have that range of options. They can either wear pyjamas or, on special occasions, business suits with constricting neckwear. I have seen pictures of people in China dressed rather informally, in slacks and tee shirts, but it's my suspicion that those people probably work for Google there, or wish they did.
Citizens of Google, also, don't live under onerous censorship, unless you count the residents of YouTube, which is so clean it practically squeaks. Those who live in China, on the other hand, never get to see anything the government doesn't want them to see. This can get boring, as anybody who has been forced to view a local access government-run cable channel can tell you. Imagine long city council meetings on every TV channel, and the results on those meetings the predominant form of information on the web. Pretty dreary, huh?
While the average Google person makes about as much as his or her Chinese counterpart, those with more senior titles and positions can do better. Most of us like there to be some upside, at least conceptually, and the citizens of Google enjoy that aspirational dimension in their everyday lives, while your Chinese worker does not.
Of course, the Chinese have Chinese food everywhere, readily accessible 24/7/365. It's almost impossible to get good Chinese food in Mountain View, and those serious about the effort have to travel almost 90 minutes to San Francisco to enjoy anything comparable.
I realize that I'm rooting for the underdog here, at least in terms of military might. The Chinese have millions of soldiers, with guns and rockets and bombs and everything. Google has nothing but Sergey, Larry, Eric and a cadre of some 10,000 souls in uniform and ready for the coming engagement. China has clever weapons, like poisoned toothpaste. Google doesn't. So time will tell who will prevail in the end. One thing is for sure. Nobody's ever made any money betting against Google.