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Google CEO Sundar Pichai Says He Does Not Regret Firing James Damore (theverge.com) 473

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Google CEO Sundar Pichai responded today to the firing of employee James Damore over his controversial memo on workplace diversity, stating that while he does not regret the decision, he regrets that people misunderstood it as a politically motivated event. Speaking in a live conversation with journalist and Recode co-founder Kara Swisher, MSNBC host Ari Melber, and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki in San Francisco, Pichai said that the decision to fire Damore was about ensuring women at Google felt like the company was committed to creating a welcoming environment.

"I regret that people misunderstand that we may have made this for a political belief one way or another," Pichai said. "It's important for the women at Google, and all the people at Google, that we want to make a inclusive environment." When pressed by Swisher on the issue of regret, Pichai stated more definitively, "I don't regret it." Wojcicki, who has spoken publicly about how Damore's memo affected her personally, followed up with, "I think it was the right decision."

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai Says He Does Not Regret Firing James Damore

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  • Epic bullshit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @07:51PM (#55964403)

    Of course it was political. How stupid do they think we are?

    • Re:Epic bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mr307 ( 49185 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @07:56PM (#55964429)

      Yep, a welcoming inclusive environment that excludes some people, heard 'you' the first time. Meanwhile the memo continues to be misconstrued in part or its entirety as necessary.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by vux984 ( 928602 )

        "Yep, a welcoming inclusive environment that excludes some people"

        You say that as if you were making a valid point?

        I mean, you can get yourself thrown out and banned from a restaurant, theatre, or store for being a sufficinetly obnoxious assclown. And these are businesses just trying to sell things. They aren't on a mission to create a 'safe space for snowflakes' they just want things to be civil enough that their other customers aren't driven out.

        Should the store be criticized for hypocrisy for kicking an

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 19, 2018 @08:18PM (#55964557)

          The thing is that Google firing Damore appears to have been illegal. He was asked to provide feedback, he wrote a memo describing non-discriminatory ways to meet Google's diversity goals, then the memo was leaked and he was hounded in the press and at the workplace. One of the emails in his complaint is from a supervisor at Google threatening him, after all.

          Regarding the broader point, there are philosophical reasons [culturalanalysis.net] not to have a 'right to not be offended'. The fact that other people were trying to engage in the heckler's veto and make a big fuss to drive out people they disagree with is something that's often being missed her. There are large free speech concerns if people are allowed to silence others by throwing a big enough fuss.

          Google is a hostile workplace--for people like Damore. The toxic people who cannot remain civil in the face of disagreement should be the ones who are removed & punished. Anything else will result in a race to the bottom.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 19, 2018 @09:11PM (#55964871)

            Just to illustrate that the other AC is not exaggerating about Google being a hostile workplace, I encourage everyone to read the indictment: https://www.scribd.com/document/368688363/James-Damore-vs-Google-Class-Action-Lawsuit#fullscreen [scribd.com] It has lots of quotes, screenshots and other examples how things are handled inside Google. It's absolutely damning.

            • by Mr307 ( 49185 )

              Thanks for the link, its 160 pages or so, have read most of it now. Hopefully we get some lawyerly opinions on it at some point.

            • Just to be clear, that's his complaint, not an indictment.

              I tend to agree that it looks to me like Google created a hostile workplace, but we should, in all fairness, withhold judgement until Google weighs in as well and any additional facts come out.

            • by rl117 ( 110595 ) <.ten.erbiledoc. .ta. .hgielr.> on Saturday January 20, 2018 @09:47AM (#55966793) Homepage
              Thanks for posting this. I've read through it all and you're absolutely right, it is damning. I hope that they win this case. Even if they don't, it serves to show that the workplace culture of Google is absolutely terrible, and that I'm glad they didn't offer me a job; I didn't get good vibes when I interviewed with them, some of the people were just weird. Why are all these people spending their work time pushing their left-wing progressive ideology in everyone's faces (I deliberately avoid calling it "liberal", because it's anything but). Why have so many places permitted politics and SJWs to become part of work life? Surely we are there to do our jobs, rather than engage in other people's politics? I'm in a similar situation in the place I work. Allowing people to bring politics into the workplace, from co-workers, to direct managers and up, is deeply divisive and unpleasant. It leads to a workplace where one group has free reign to belittle, insult, marginalise and bully people in the other camp, all with the tacit approval of higher-ups. It doesn't make for a friendly environment. It's effectively sanctioned discrimination. As the indictment presents evidence in detail, in Google's case this was with the knowledge or HR and senior management, who turned a blind eye at best, and tacitly and overtly encouraged it at worst. It's bad, and Damore I think has good grounds for the legal proceedings based upon that. Discovery might produce even more.
          • by ttsai ( 135075 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @09:23PM (#55964947)

            The "right to not be offended" is not only not desirable, it must be vigorously opposed because it is impossible to implement for all people. The only way to implement such a right is to selectively decide who gets that right and who does not, which offending actions are sanctioned and which are not. In practice, what this right entails is the imposition of the views of those in power upon the controlled masses, along with the propaganda that such mind control is benevolent, that blessed views are correct, and that opposing views are incorrect.

            There is no difference whether such control is wielded by religions, dictatorships, or corporations. Each believes in its own benevolence and the evilness of those that do not adhere to incontrovertible truths.

            • The foolishness of the progressives pushing things like that never ceases to amaze me. Say they got their laws criminalizing "hate speech". You know who would define what hate speech is? Donald Trump and the Republicans. Are progressives (as others have pointed out, not liberals) really deluded enough to believe it wouldn't be groups like Antifa and the 'white men are evil' crowd on the receiving end of hate speech charges? What am I talking about of course they are. Yes, go ahead, keep up with the right no
          • by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @09:25PM (#55964949)

            Google is a hostile workplace--for people like Damore. The toxic people who cannot remain civil in the face of disagreement should be the ones who are removed & punished. Anything else will result in a race to the bottom.

            Isn't this what Google at its very core represents... a race to the bottom? When everything is ad and cyber stalking supported ... when everything must be "free".

          • Under the at-will presumption, a California employer, absent an agreement or statutory or public policy exception to the contrary, may terminate an employee for any reason at any time.

            Don't like anti-union, anti-labor "at will" laws? There are things you can do about that.

            More here at CNBC- a decidedly non-liberal site.
            https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/0... [cnbc.com]

            And verification that Demore forced the CEO to cut short vacation.
            https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/0... [cnbc.com]
            Creating a shitstorm that forces the CEO to cut their vaca

        • Re:Epic bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

          by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @08:18PM (#55964561)

          Your argument makes no sense. They didn't fire the people that spread the memo outside the forum where the discussion was SUPPOSED to take place.

          The problem is the discussion was supposed to be an echo chamber, nobody likes the dude that breaks up a circle jerk. So the 'obnoxious ass clowns' removed the cites and posted the memo far and wide. They should have been fired for that.

          After Damore gets done with Google, he has good cases against the 'journalists' that slandered him by editing his memo. Also against any Googlers that altered it then posted it. He should put them _all_ in the poor house.

        • by sjames ( 1099 )

          In that case, they should probably can the person who publicly posted the memo which was originally posted to an internal only message board.

        • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          by iamhassi ( 659463 )
          But google literally made a "safe place for snowflakes" by firing him. He wasn't a obnoxious jack ass, he was simply pointing out conservative voices are silenced at google and google basically proved it by firing him. And this is why I don't use google or google products anymore
          • Pichai must be feeling some heat over this or he would have simply ignored it. As it is, he is putting it back on the news.

            Good.

            Sadly, Danmore is not naturally aggressive. I would have made very public statements that Prichai was a malicious liar. Google tells us what to read. We need to trust Google. You cannot trust a malicious liar. That would have got headlines. And if Prichai sued, he would have to attempt to justify his position publically. (The lie is that that Danmore denigrated women, or th

      • Re:Epic bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hsthompson69 ( 1674722 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @08:59PM (#55964793)

        In Jet Li's "The One", they had the two prison break scenes in alternate universes - one with Bush as president, the other with Gore.

        FFS it feels like we're in an alternate universe now. Going from judging people by the "content of their character" rather than the "color of their skin", we've now institutionalized "diversity" initiatives that insist we diversify and include people based on their immutable characteristics, but exclude people based on their thoughts and ideas.

        Sucks to be a gay black conservative nowadays.

        • Re:Epic bullshit (Score:5, Interesting)

          by fafalone ( 633739 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @11:19PM (#55965401)
          Just the other day I saw an article complaining about another extremely racist policy: Color-blind assessment. (See here [psychologytoday.com])
          That's a big part of why so many of us on the left aren't thrilled about the progressives are doing... "equality" now means simply switching which groups get preferential treatment, as punishment for past wrongs. It's a completely untenable position. And part of the reason why Trump won... a lot of Democrats just stayed home. Your whole life you advocate for everyone to receive equal treatment, now that makes you a right-wing racist because equal treatment isn't good enough... that alienates people.
          • Re: Epic bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Reverend Green ( 4973045 ) on Saturday January 20, 2018 @12:21AM (#55965601)

            When I was growing up, we were heavily indoctrinated in school with MLK-style antiracism. That is, if you judge someone based on the color of their skin then you're both a scumbag and an idiot. That was uncontroversial at the time and remains a core value for me and a whole lot of other people.

            How times have changed! Now the fake progressive media establishment, backed by powerful factions of the corporate and juridicial oligarchies, DEMAND that everyone be racist. To them, anyone who follows the teachings of MLK is an "asshole", or perhaps literally a Nazi. Who deserves to be silenced, fired, assaulted, and possibly tossed in the Gulag or murdered.

            One way to look at this is a shibboleth. If a man can take an obviously false statement and proclaim it loudly and energetically as the one and only TRUTH - well, that man has real faith.

            • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

              by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

              That sounds awful, but it's not got anything to do with the Damore case. If you read the actual memo and ignore all the people misrepresenting it, you can see pretty clearly how he created a situation where Google had no choice but to fire him.

              Anyway, I think we need to wait for the lawsuit to progress before we can really make a final judgment. The material filled so far is pretty damming, it's clear that both of them were in an untenable position.

              • I did read the actual memo. It was a concise and accurate summary of the current state of research.

                If simply stating that there is indisputable evidence of sex-based differences in inclinations is a situation where a company has no choice but to fire someone, then we're in pretty sad shape.

                What google should have done is established a zero tolerance policy for blacklists, ideological harassment, and insisted that tolerance for diversity means tolerance for diversity of opinion.

                Instead, they let SJWs run wi

          • Re:Epic bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 20, 2018 @02:08AM (#55965873)

            > as punishment for past wrongs.

            Worse, it's punishment for past wrongs committed by OTHER PEOPLE, whom in many cases are already dead, and usually have been since before the people being attacked were even born. And it somehow comes as a surprise when resentment and pushback happens.

            Example: No one in my generation, or the next generation, or the next generation, had anything to do with Jim Crow laws. They were ended in 1965, the very same year GenX is considered to begin. So only a very tiny portion of my own generation was even alive, and they were all drooling on themselves in cribs at the time. The previous generation (boomers) was contemporary to Jim Crow, but had no power yet. You have to go all the way back to the "greatest generation" of the WW2 era to get to the youngest generation that had political power to maintain those laws and do any oppressing of anyone. But then, that was also the generation whose better examples dismantled Jim Crow. And most of them are already dead anyway. To get to the people actually to blame, the ones who set it up, you have to go back two or three more generations, with zero living members. But oh, does the SJW wing of the left want to blame and punish me and mine for Jim Crow and even slavery.

            Well. The hell with that. I'm not going to mistreat anyone who doesn't mistreat me first. You want to promote yourself, lift yourself up, devote yourself to whatever cause, more power to you. All I ask is to be left in peace: I mind my business you mind yours. But if your idea of lifting yourself up includes tearing me down then yes, I'll protect my own interests and, to use the SJW's own parlance: resist.

        • FFS it feels like we're in an alternate universe now. Going from judging people by the "content of their character" rather than the "color of their skin", we've now institutionalized "diversity" initiatives that insist we diversify and include people based on their immutable characteristics, but exclude people based on their thoughts and ideas.

          I'm not exactly sufre what you're saying here. Isn't excluding people based on their thoughts and ideas precisely juding people by the content of their character?

          And

    • Re:Epic bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BlueStrat ( 756137 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @08:11PM (#55964515)

      Of course it was political. How stupid do they think we are?

      The level of outrage generated by Damore's memo is not just about Google and their hiring practices, the memo pokes huge holes in the group/identity politics used by the Left. That's why the outrage is so out of proportion and shrill to the point of apoplexy on the Left and why they want Damore pilloried.

      Strat

      • Re:Epic bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

        by iamhassi ( 659463 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @08:55PM (#55964773) Journal
        And made him a martyr. Had they done nothing, we wouldn't be talking about him anymore
      • That's why the outrage is so out of proportion and shrill to the point of apoplexy on the Left and why they want Damore pilloried.

        Have you considered the possibility that's just how they have meetings? [pilloryhistory.com] ;)

    • Re: Epic bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @08:26PM (#55964617)

      Pichai said that the decision to fire Damore was about ensuring women at Google felt like the company was committed to creating a welcoming environment.

      That is very much a political reason...

      • by pots ( 5047349 )
        If "creating a welcoming environment," (i.e.: a non-hostile workplace) is a political reason, then term has lost all meaning. If the bar for being political is that low, then what's the point in distinguishing?

        It seems like you're reading something into that sentence that isn't there.
        • Re: Epic bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

          by c6gunner ( 950153 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @10:50PM (#55965317)

          Creating a welcoming environment for everyone is a laudable, non-political goal.

          Making women "feel" like you are "committed to" creating a welcoming environment specifically for them is bullshit politics.

          I suspect that you don't see the difference between those two things, but it's pretty glaring.

    • Mr Pichai could not publicly describe the firing as political, else he would be next to be purged.

  • by GeekBoy ( 10877 ) <leewsb @ h o t m a i l . com> on Friday January 19, 2018 @07:53PM (#55964413) Homepage

    When facts meet politics, politics win. All it shows is that Google is more concerned about optics than making decisions based on facts.

    • by sinij ( 911942 )

      When facts meet politics, politics win. All it shows is that Google is more concerned about optics than making decisions based on facts.

      It is much worse. Google, being a dominant search engine, can largely decide what the facts are.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by eclectro ( 227083 )

      What it shows is that Google has become a social justice media company rather than a top tier search engine company.

      I can get most everything now from Bing quite well and I'm needing google less and less as time goes by.

    • Literally, from TFA:

      "The first question they had about it [was], âIs that true?â(TM)â Wojcicki said on the latest Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher. âoeThat really, really surprised me, because here I am â" Iâ(TM)ve spent so much time, so much of my career, to try to overcome stereotypes, and then here was this letter that was somehow convincing my kids and many other women in the industry, and men in the industry, convincing them that they were less capable. That really up

  • by sandbagger ( 654585 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @08:04PM (#55964463)

    Gang:

    Please do not discuss, or comment in any way, about ongoing issues we have in the courts.

    Kthnxbye.

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @08:11PM (#55964513)

    Engineering is hard-core. If you mess up, tons of money is lost and people may die. It is not a role for anybody that needs to be "welcome". It is a role for people that do understand things, see past the bullshit and can get things to work. And also for people that leave when the bullshit gets too much. Of course, any actual engineering set-up worthwhile working for will cherish and treasure its engineers, whether male, female or anything else. It just does not matter. Skill, insight and capability do.

    Of course, most people, like this "CEO" are incapable of seeing this. If they take over, an engineering company becomes a has-been. Because while a good engineer will always find a reasonable job anywhere, these people depend on scamming people out of their money for sub-par performance and after a while, customers wake up to what is going on.

    • The downfall of Radio Shack began when they decided to fire all their engineers at their Texas HQ and become a cell phone reseller and equipment re-badging company.

      Evidently they didn't need their engineers and the world really didn't need Radio Shack.

      • the downfall of Radio shack was device convergence. There are just plain fewer devices to sell. My cell phone is a radio, a phone, a GPS, a mini-computer, a PDA, a games machine, a video chat client, an mp3 player, a portable video player. I could go on. The only one that survived was Best Buy who made it through mostly by having the floor space to sell 60" TVs when they suddenly got cheap and everyone was ditching their tubes.

        Hobbyists couldn't save Radio Shack because America's manufacturing base is g
    • is engaged in that kind of engineering. Their autonomous car division. The rest sell ads.

      That said, it goes both ways. If the Alpha male screws up and the beta finds the fuck up your hard-core environment can break down when the beta keeps his mouth shut to avoid conflict (or because he knows damn well nobody's gonna listen to him since he's not a jock).

      Hell, on a smaller scale, who here reading this hasn't kept their mouth shut about some impending doom at work because it wasn't worth the hassle to
  • Not Yet. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jwhyche ( 6192 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @08:18PM (#55964563) Homepage

    Of course he doesn't regret it at this time. Nothing has happened yet. Once this goes to trial he might be singing a different tune. It's the little things that tend to set big things in motion. I've been hearing talk of regulating google and facebook for several months now.

    Once the trial starts everything that has happened will go on public record. That might be the tipping to make congress ether start regulating google or break up google. The latter being the most likely of the two.

    So, he might not regret it now but the fat lady is far from singing on this issue

    • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @11:12PM (#55965381)
      worst case he pitches a few million to Demore and his lawyer. Pichai is after bigger fish, to wit: the largely untapped labor pool of female software engineers. There's a dirty joke in there somewhere, but my consideration of it is one of the reasons that labor pool remains untapped.

      Now, a better organization could have it's cake an eat it too. e.g. they could keep guys like Damore without driving out women. But I've been in IT for 20 years and I know what a boys club it is. Changing that is _hard_.
      • by Spamalope ( 91802 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @11:49PM (#55965497)
        So you haven't read the memo itself. You wouldn't write that they couldn't keep Damore and women if you had, as he was making credible realistic suggestions about how to make the workplace more inviting. Those suggestions ran afoul of progressive ideology though, and daring to suggest that gender is real and that women may feel welcome if things like family life were allowed for is heretical nowadays.
      • by Cederic ( 9623 ) on Saturday January 20, 2018 @12:09AM (#55965557) Journal

        the largely untapped labor pool of female software engineers. There's a dirty joke in there somewhere

        Yes, the joke being that this supposed pool exists.

        Convince women to enter programming jobs instead of medical ones, or to become software engineers instead of teachers, and maybe that pool will exist.

        As a side benefit there'll be a shortage of doctors, nurses and teachers so more men will enter those professions, reducing the male demand for programming jobs.

        It's a win in both directions. Except for the poor fuckers now working in a job entirely unsuited to their individual needs and expectations.

        • and a big part of why is because it's nerdy men's work. She's on her way to becoming an oncology nurse.

          And my point is Pichai doesn't care how he gets his workers. But if he can poach ones that otherwise would have entered the medical field he'd be happy to. My kid's smart, and she's never going to work for Google or any other tech company. And her perception of IT work is a big part of that. Not that I would have encouraged it though. Way too much wage suppression and outsourcing. If Pichai and his ilk
  • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @08:21PM (#55964589)
    When you want to know who has power over you, look only to those who you are not allowed to criticize.
    • When you want to know who _really_ has power over you look to those who don't even notice when you criticize them. The ones that get made at criticism are at least aware of you enough to retaliate.
  • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @08:25PM (#55964611) Journal
    Encourage the big boring brand to become totally fixated on telling the world about how good it is.
    Then look for the people with skills who can work and bring them over to your company.

    Is that virtue signalling brand is a really slow, boring place to work?
    Your band offers tech and more new tech. The other big brand has long boring meetings about telling the world about how good it is.
    What to join a fun, new, dynamic, innovative tech brand? Want to sit in a meeting after boring meeting on the optics of branding and what words to use?
    Welcome to an actual tech company that still considers merit and skill? Welcome to the big brand that tells the world about the brand?
    Boring big brand meetings on using words all week? A boring big brand that has to stay on message?

    Find that fun new tech company thats all about the tech?
    Start your own company and get smart people by having no boring meetings :)
  • by DeplorableCodeMonkey ( 4828467 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @08:39PM (#55964689)

    Admitting that he should have publicly fired the person who took the non-memo that was actually an internal G+ discussion item and waved it like a bloody flag to clickbait shitposters would be an admission that Damore has a case.

    But that is precisely what he should have done. He should have called a town hall meeting, asked the person to come to the stage and publicly fired them without any severance with a stern warning that anyone who decides to go activist and take dirty laundry to the media instead of working through official channels will be punished even harder because now they know that Google won't tolerate it.

  • Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 19, 2018 @08:44PM (#55964705)

    He should step aside and let a woman take his job.

  • Somebody tell me the last time a sitting CEO of a very large profitable company admitted to a recent mistake.
  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @09:16PM (#55964905) Homepage

    The now-infamous “Google memo,” written by engineer James Damore, argued against diversity initiatives at Google and said that female engineers were less capable of leading others.

    They must be talking about a different memo. Because his memo did not does say that female engineers are less capable of leading. The closest thing I can find is this:

    Women, on average, have more...extraversion expressed as gregariousness rather than assertiveness. Also, higher agreeableness. This leads to women generally having a harder time negotiating salary, asking for raises, speaking up, and leading.

    James Damoore said nothing about women being less capable. Breaking it down, he is nicely say that women tend not to be assholes, and that assholes get leadership positions. Anyone looking at our current sitting president would be forced to agree with him.

    If James Damoore gets 1 dollar for every every media outlet that slandered him like this, he could buy Google.

  • ... left after Damore was fired due to the fact? I know this might be slightly off-topic, but maybe some Googler could anonymously give a comment on this whole Damore semi-witchhunt thing and how it goes down at Google itself? Like, in real life?

    Curious to know.

  • Exactly how does this relate to his product performance at Google?

    I work with a lot of people that say interesting things in memos, but our organization doesn't fire them. (You know....you might have heard about that thing called a constitution...or whatever...)

    You might get a trip to human resources if you threaten people. But stating your views on gender issues or professional issues is not a firable offence.

    The best thing that could happen here is to break google up into about 100 companies, maybe seiz

  • by NotSoHeavyD3 ( 1400425 ) on Saturday January 20, 2018 @12:44AM (#55965691)
    he regrets that people realized it was a politically motivated event. ---------------- FTFY
  • Well, duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SEE ( 7681 ) on Saturday January 20, 2018 @04:09AM (#55966089) Homepage

    Under California law, it is explicitly illegal to fire someone for his political opinions, but perfectly legal to fire someone to avoid creating a hostile work environment (indeed, if no lesser measures suffice to prevent/cure a hostile work environment, it's effectively obligatory).

    Therefore, whatever the actual motive for the firing, Google is going to say it was about a hostile work environment, not political opinions. There's a pending lawsuit, after all.

  • The question I'd like to hear Google CEO Sundar Pichai answer is "If you learned today the identity of the person who leaked James Damore's internal message, would you fire him (or her)?

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!

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