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Goo-da April Fool’s

Google can do anything. I guess that’s what our readers believe, since almost no one has caught my April Fool’s joke in our e-newsletter. Marcy says I should have added that all Google employees’ children will also be required to attend Chinese school-—no one, surely, would believe that.

China’s on my mind all the time. I was working at 5.30am on Guanxi, the newsletter that we’ll be launching next month, and my mobile phone rang. It was a friend of a friend calling from Beijing in response to an email I’d sent some weeks back, and we had a great talk about what’s going on there, intellectual property issues, and the centrality of relationships and trust in doing business in China. It seemed a bit of a gamble, giving the newsletter a Chinese word as its name, but guanxi actually means relationships and connections, and that’s what it’s all about.

Here’s what I wrote in our newsletter (which you can sign up for at our website, with my guarantee: nothing about Google next April!).

Google China as Trailblazer from Berkshire Publishing News, April 2006
We were delighted to read that Google, like the French school system, has decided to make Chinese its second language. After its fumbling start with Google China (in the U.S., with people protesting Google’s caving to censorship, and in China, with the government indignant because Google announced the censorship on its homepage), the company has realized that if you can’t beat ‘em, at least learn to speak their language. All Google employees are to be enrolled in Google Chinese University (or Goo-da). Corporate representatives also see graphic design opportunities in using Chinese characters on all its homepages (104 languages/dialects and counting), and claim that this effort to walk in Chinese moccasins will improve its public profile and bring it closer to achieving its newly redefined mission, “To organize 1.3 billion customers.”

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