Working at a company like Google must be one heck of an experience. Unfortunately for Googlers and the rest of us, the tech giant prohibits its employees from sharing their experiences, either aloud or in novelized form.
A recent lawsuit claims Google employees are barred from writing "a novel about someone working at a tech company in Silicon Valley," without the company signing off on the final draft. So don't look for the definitive insider's view of the internet company on the New York Times best-seller list any time soon.
The lawsuit, filed by a current product manager under the alias "John Doe" to avoid retaliation, alleges that Google's employee confidentiality policy is illegally broad:
The Employee Communication Policy states that the vast majority of Googlers cannot speak about Google at all. Rather, "only authorized Googlers are permitted to talk about the company with the press, members of the investment community, partners, or anyone else outside Google." Moreover, if an authorized Googler does mention Google outside of work, the Googler is permitted only to cite information from Google's "corporate blogs or social media accounts." Authorized Googlers are also permitted to repeat "approved talking points and metrics at go/keymessages."
Doe claims Google's policies "even prohibit Googlers from speaking to their spouse or friends about whether they think their boss could do a better job."
Google's ban on company speech extends beyond factual trade secrets and "also prohibits
employees from writing creative fiction." Googlers may not pen a tech tell-all "unless Google gives prior approval to both the book idea and the final draft."
So unless the suit is successful -- and, by the way, Google could be on the hook for $3.8 billion if it loses -- the literary world will remain bereft of books about perhaps the biggest tech company of them all.