The Google that Can Say No

Google's threat to leave China probably stems from a combination of – or rather, a changing calculus around – its business interests and its values. The censorship issue has long grated at the company, but so have the constraints on any foreign company's ability to make serious long-term profits.

NEW YORK – Usually, disclosure statements go at the end of an article, but let me start with mine.

I sit on the board of Yandex, a Russian search company with a roughly 60% market share in Russia, compared to Google’s 20% or so. I am also an investor in and advisor to AnchorFree, the company that offers Hotspot Shield, a publicly accessible virtual private network (VPN) that allows users to keep their browsing private, whether they are concerned about thieves stealing their banking details or about governments monitoring where they surf. We have about one million users monthly in China (out of seven million worldwide).

And I sit on the board of 23andMe, a company co-founded by the wife of Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google. So I have a variety of interests in the topic of Google’s recent moves in China.

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