Home > Uncategorized > It’s a $mall World: Emails Disclose Sheryl $andberg Brokering Google-Wikipedia Di$pute

It’s a $mall World: Emails Disclose Sheryl $andberg Brokering Google-Wikipedia Di$pute

March 2, 2014

In the middle of an antitrust case about Silicon Valley hiring practices (which adds a whole new dimension to the antebellum business of Web 2.0), an interesting email exchange surfaced.  This one is among ex-Googler Sheryl Sandberg (yes, that Sheryl Sandberg) and some of her former colleagues.  (MTP readers will remember that according to some filings by Google stockholders, Sheryl Sandberg appears to be in the middle of the Google Drugs case that resulted in Google’s payment of $500,000,000 of the stockholders money to keep an unknown number of its senior executive team from being indicted.  That didn’t come up on Sandberg’s book tours and is not part of her carefully crafted image.)

One heavily redacted email thread offers some insight into the relationship between Google, Wikimedia Foundation and Wikipedia, of all things, and even mentions child labor magnate Jimmy Wales (this was before the hiring of Wikimedia’s tech industry lobbyists in 2012).  This exchange is from 2008, and may well have been the cornerstone of the lobbying partnership between Google and Wikimedia that blossomed in 2012.  (The email exchange has the unfortunate distinction of being from Exhibit 666 in the litigation.)



Of course, Ms. Gardner omitted that her Wikimedia Foundation leased office space from Wikia, so El Jefe Jimbo was not the only connection between the two organizations.

And realize that “Wikia Search” was (according to Wikipedia) a potential threat to Google:

“Wikia Search followed other experiments by Wikia into search engine technology and officially launched as a “public alpha” on January 7, 2008.  The roll-out version of the search interface was widely criticized by reviewers in mainstream media.  After failing to attract an audience, the site closed by 2009.”

Now read this again:

I personally  don’t believe any of this. I think  Google and Wikipedia can and should have a complementary  and positive relationship. And I gather Larry [Page] and Sergey [Brin] feel  the same: I believe  they’ve told Jimmy [Wales] that Google has no ill will towards Wikipedia, and that they’d be willing to make a donation to us in order to signal that publicly.

No…say it ain’t so, Jimbo.  Don’t break the Internet!

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