Here’s why a former Google manager thinks the company has made a costly mistake going all in on AI and missing the boat on cryptocurrency (GOOG, GOOGL)

Sundar Pichai

  • A former employee says Google is among ‘old tech companies stuck in the past.’ 
  • While Facebook and Amazon have at least made some moves into the cryptoworld, Google has shown nothing.
  • Google “should be a frictionless paywall… You’re going to see them all eventually come after this.”


We’re a week past
Google’s I/O developer conference, where some impressive technology involving artificial intelligence generated big headlines and stirred some controversy, but calls to former Googlers revealed not everyone has bought into the AI craze.

I/O is a big deal and Google really pulled out the stops with the demo of Duplex, the software that can carry on conversations in a very convincing human-like voice. Yet, a former employee of the search giant only wanted to talk about recent news that some of the big tech companies are finally dipping a toe into the blockchain waters. The former Google manager, who asked for anonymity, said Google, Facebook and Amazon should have seized the opportunity to gather expertise and invest in blockchain and cryptocurrencies long ago.

“These big, old tech companies are stuck in the the past,” the former Googler said. “All they talk about is machine learning. The only thing I care about, the only thing that anyone should care about right now, is crypto assets.”

This is the kind of passionate belief common to many supporters of crypto assets — bitcoin being the best known. Cryptocurrencies are the controversial digital money secured by cryptography. Instead of working through a central electronic hub and big banks like traditional currencies, cryptocurrency makes use of blockchains, the decentralized digital and public transaction ledgers.

Cryptocurrency continues to attract a growing number of supporters and investors despite their wildly fluctuating value and security concerns. For example, accounts without strong password protection can be hacked. Also, since the currency does not pass through traditional banks, it is unregulated.  

While these alternative payment methods have sparked white-hot speculation for years, the bigger tech firms have largely shied away.  

But the past two weeks has seen some big news in the crypto sector. Last week, Cheddar reported that Facebook, the world’s biggest social network, is “exploring the creation of its own cryptocurrency, a virtual token that would allow its billions of users around the world to make electronic payments.” David Marcus, the leader of Facebook Messenger, has even moved into a new role heading up Facebook’s blockchain efforts.

This week, Amazon’s cloud-computing unit, announced a partnership with Kaleido, a startup from blockchain pioneer Consensys. According to a statement from the companies, Kaleido will help provide customers of Amazon Web Services a means to use “private blockchain networks.” In addition to cryptocurrency, Blockchains also streamline the processing of other types of data, such as land and copyright registrations, over the Web.

Whether Amazon will ever offer cryptocurrency remains to be seen. Nonetheless, supporters of blockchain and cryptocurrencies believe these are the kinds of deals and companies that can spark widespread adoption.

As for Google, the company has worked on blockchain technology since at least this past spring, according to Bloomberg. But Google hasn’t gone far or fast enough for the company’s former manager who spoke to Business Insider.

“This is what’s going to change money and the financial industry as we know it,” he said. “Google could use it for Adsense, for everything they do. The company should be a frictionless paywall… You’re going to see them all eventually come after this.”

SEE ALSO: Facebook is getting into blockchain — here’s what crypto insiders say it might be building

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