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An Open Letter to Google to Help Save Lives

Dear Google,

You have it within your power to help create change and save lives. To give a voice to those who have been silenced. To hold those we entrust with our safety accountable. To empower the oppressed. To start a social revolution.

You could do it within three months. You could do it with tools you already have. In fact, you probably already have plans on your roadmap to do it but perhaps not for the same reasons and not with the same sense of urgency.

More frequently, we watch with bewilderment and moral outrage as crimes against the innocent are perpetrated with impunity. We have had our faith that truth and justice will prevail shaken to its core. For a while, we will seethe and shout for calls to action only to have it invariably dissipate into a quiet murmur. Until the next time. And the time after that. And so again. As if the wicked have discovered just the right rhythm to ensure the ebb and flow never ends. So that we still dismiss these wrongs as isolated incidents with extenuating circumstances, rather than the insidious cancer eating away at the fabric of our society.

Before lines are drawn across which to shout and political diatribes drown out my message, consider that light casts shadows and defines the darkness in all directions. Law enforcement will have documentation of proper procedure. Alleged victims out to falsely accuse first responders will have their deception on full display. Those who would besmirch another for profit will be left empty-handed.

Erasmus said, “Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself.” This isn’t only a chance to illuminate the evil that men do in the dark but to celebrate his profound potential for compassion in the light. In moments of kindness. Of hope. Of humanity.

So what could be so simple and yet so powerful?

Google Hangouts on Air…

On mobile. In the hands of the people. Live broadcasting crimes (and acts of kindness) in progress.

The functionality we need is already possible on my laptop. I can stream a live Google Hangouts on Air broadcast and also have it automatically recorded and uploaded to YouTube. Unfortunately, I’m not in the habit of always having my laptop with me. Nor is it the quickest or most discreet way to capture video. That little device in our pockets could mean all the difference.

We almost had it with Qik. That Skype bought. Then shut down. Of course, there are a few other mobile streaming apps and services out there. But they have a lengthy sign up process, require painful integration with other services, cost money, have a limited recording length, or produce poor quality video. These are all things that create friction that will prevent the quick capture these events need. You have the resources to scale with Google Hangouts and YouTube. You already have what you need to solve these problems. Empower the people to use these tools for good.

Your company and your people create technology that continues to change our world. I only ask that you consider your tremendous opportunity for empowering change. The absence of evil is not the presence of good. Not being evil is no longer enough. Be good.

Serge

cc: Facebook, Twitter, Apple, and Microsoft

You all have the tools you need to do this as well. I challenge you and Google to a race to the finish. To the winner goes the gratitude of millions.

To My Colleagues

To My Colleagues

To my colleagues,

On Monday, many of you had your positions eliminated at eBay. I know that you will have your choice of opportunities as other companies vie for your talents or as you pursue your own personal passion projects. My disappointment and anger are only fueled by seeing how, to the very end, you conducted yourselves with grace and professionalism. Instead of bitterness and anger you selflessly expressed hope and concern for your people and colleagues instead of your own situation. Until you stepped out of the doors you–my family for a quarter of my life–kept it human and radiated compassion, concerned only that the important work we do continues to serve our customers, representing the very best of what I love about eBay. You were busy making sure that the code and research were properly archived. You made sure to transition your knowledge to those who remain. You worked to the very last moment to minimize the impact of your departure. But these mechanics, these logistics, are not our greatest loss. You are. You humble me. I am ashamed, that no small part of me is saddened by what your departure means for me, of how my day will be diminished by your absence. I can only promise that I will do my very best to continue our work, to serve our customers, and to create the change in the world that brought us together.

Serge