Over 2,000 Google employees rallied against President Donald Trump’s executive order that bans immigration from seven majority Muslim countries today. Googlers all over the country, including at campuses in Mountain View, San Francisco, New York and Seattle, are rallying against the immigration ban.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai and co-founder Sergey Brin, who was spotted at one of the protests at SFO over the weekend, both spoke at the rally in Mountain View. TechCrunch’s sources provided us with recordings of their remarks.
“I see many leads from Google here today,” Pichai told the crowd at Google’s Mountain View headquarters. “We spent two hours this morning talking about all of this. There’s a lot of work which remains to be done. I think it’s important we stay the course and achieve an outcome. I think to do that we all need to learn to reach out and communicate to people from across the country. And I think it’s really important with anything like that we take the extra step to reach out, to have a dialogue and that’s what leads to right outcomes too. But really I think today is about hearing from other voices. We’ve spoken up but I think it’s great to hear the stories so hopefully there will be more and the fight will continue.”
Brin kicked off his remarks with the story of how he first came to the U.S. at the age of six with his family from the Soviet Union, “which was at that time, you know, the greatest enemy the U.S. had,” Brin said.
He went on to say that it was a dire period of the Cold War and that the Soviet Union was under the threat of nuclear annihilation and “yet, even then, the U.S. had the courage to take me and my family in as refugees.”
Ultimately, Brin made the point that it’s important not to frame this debate as being liberal versus Republican.
“It’s a debate about fundamental values, about thoughtful policy making and many of the other things that I think are apparently not universally adored, but I think the vast majority of the country and of our legislators and so forth support, and I think it’s important to frame it that way and to be inclusive about it,” Brin said. “Sometimes it might be difficult because I know we have many, many values here that are not necessarily universally shared but I think these are really special times and I think it’s important to form friendships with many different people.”
The rally at Google’s Mountain View headquarters also featured Google employees talking about their experiences as a result of the ban. The keynote speaker, Google Assistant Product Manager Soufi Esmaeilzadeh, shared her story about being on a plane from SFO to Zurich when rumors first started circulating about the executive order. Esmaeilzadeh, an Iranian-born Canadian citizen who has lived in the U.S. for the last 15 years, didn’t know what to make of the order, which was enacted the day she landed in Switzerland. After a federal judge ruled in favor of the ACLU’s request to hold off on the implementing the ban, Google flew her home right away.
Brin mentioned in his remarks that he heard “many really powerful stories” during the rally and appreciates everything Google employees are doing.
“I hope this energy carries forward in many different ways, beyond what just our company can do, beyond what just companies can do,” Brin said. “But is a really powerful force and really powerful movement.”
Word of the rally spread through different means, according to sources. Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat sent out an email to some administrative employees, who then forwarded it to other employees, encouraging them to go. Another source said she received a message from a colleague saying, “Let’s show our solidarity with fellow Googlers, immigrants, refugees, and muslims worldwide. Monday, January 30th, 2:30pm PT, MTV, on the patio outside Charlie’s. Please spread the word with your teams and fellow Googlers.”
I’ve reached out to Google and will update this story if I hear back.