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Eric Schmidt thought 'Don't be evil' was stupid upon joining Google, NPR interview reveals

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt has a new book out titled, "The New Digital Age," he got on NPR's Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! for an interview to promote it. Here, he reveals that he thought Google's famous "Don't be evil" slogan was "the stupidest rule ever" when he joined the company.
May 13, 2013
Google chairman Eric Schmidt
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt has a new book out titled, “The New Digital Age,” written in collaboration with Jared Cohen. And in order to promote this new book of his, he got on NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! for an interview wherein he revealed some information about what it’s like to work at Google, the biggest search engine in the world, and arguably one of the world’s biggest companies ever.

In the interview, Schmidt dropped his thoughts on things like Google Glass, Internet etiquette, and more. Among those was Google’s famous “Don’t be evil” slogan, which you may be familiar with. So what exactly did he think of it when he first joined Google?

In a word, stupid. According to Schmidt himself, he thought “Don’t be evil” was “the stupidest rule ever” when he got to Google and joined founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

“Well, it was invented by Larry and Sergey,” began Schmidt, who was asked how Google came up with its slogan. “And the idea was that we don’t quite know what evil is, but if we have a rule that says don’t be evil, then employees can say, I think that’s evil,” he added.

But even though he thought it was stupid, at least it worked — he tells the story of an advertising project that got shut down after an engineer declared it was evil and shouldn’t be done by Google. So in the end, the slogan wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

What he revealed about Google Glass is nothing we don’t already know. But the rest of the interview is still quite interesting, especially during the part where Schmidt plays the Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! quiz with the help of Google. We won’t spoil the results for you, but let’s just say that using Google to figure out answers to a quiz is super effective.

Listen to the full interview or read the transcript via the source link below.