Google considered its Project Dragonfly, the Chinese search product, as a means to reach “the next billion users” and was hoping for a launch in “six to nine months” although the future was “unpredictable”, according to a leaked transcript of a July 18th internal meeting.
Ben Gomes, Google’s search engine chief, told employees that China was “arguably the most interesting market in the world today” and that Google needed to be there, according to the transcript published by The Intercept.
“It’s not just a one-way street. China will teach us things that we don’t know,” Gomes said. “We have built a set of hacks and we have kept them. If there is a way to sort of freeze some of it, so it can be brought off the shelf and quickly deployed while we are dripping it all out, and changing it, we should take the long-term view.”
In August Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said that plans to re-enter China with a search engine were “exploratory” and in the “early stages”, according to Bloomberg.
In the leaked transcript from July 18th Gomes, who joined Google in 1999 and took charge of search operations in April 2018, stated that: “There is a huge binary difference between being launched and not launched. And so we want to be careful that we don’t miss that window if it ever comes.”
“There is a Project Dragonfly,” Google’s chief privacy officer Keith Enright confirmed earlier this month, but maintained that he was “not clear on the contours of what is in scope or out of the scope for that project”.
The privacy chief added that if plans to launch a search product for China were in the final stages, he and his team would already be actively engaged in conducting privacy reviews to ensure the product adhered to Google’s privacy values.
“Any product we launch anywhere in the world will reflect our values and commitment we made to our users,” – according to Enright.