Well, this is awkward.
As Google employees continue to protest their company’s no-longer secret plan to launch a censored version of its search engine in China, one little detail seems to have gone largely unremarked. Namely, that the project shares the name Dragonfly with a mega-yacht reportedly owned by Google co-founder Sergey Brin.
That’s right, Google executives gave their project designed to aid Chinese censorship the same name as a $80 million yacht. This fascinating detail was first picked up by journalist Ryan Gallagher (who initially broke the Google censorship story for The Intercept), who noted on his blog that this may be more than a random coincidence.
Gallagher rightly points out that after the 2006 launch of a censored Google search engine in China, Brin argued internally that it was a compromise of Google’s values. The point is backed up by a 2010 report in the Wall Street Journal which says Brin was the “guiding force behind Google’s decision to stop filtering search results in China.”
But that was then, and now Google CEO Sundar Pichai is in charge. And if that means giving a product that assists in censoring Chinese citizens the same name as a boat widely reported to belong to Sergey Brin, then so be it.
Now, importantly, do we know for sure that this was an intentional slight? No. Does it sure seem like it is? Yes.
Good thing Brin has his billions of dollars to fall back on, or we don’t know how he’d ever recover.