The news could have the effect of a bomb in the hallways of Mountain View’s Googleplex. And rightly so, one of Google’s divisions is said to have been infiltrated by a cult, according to an investigation by the… New York Times† It appears that the Google Developer Studio (GDS), which produces videos showcasing the technologies of the American giant, is being directed by Peter Lubbers, a long-time member of the Community of Friends. In total, as many as 12 members of this obscure religious organization are said to work for this branch of Google.
The Community of Friends was founded in 1970 by Robert Earl Burton, a former Bay Area school teacher who was suspected of sexually abusing several members of his organization. It claims 1,500 members worldwide, including 500 to 600 near the massive Oregon House complex, north of Sacramento. This sect believes that a higher consciousness can be achieved by embracing visual arts and culture. the New York Times specifies that its members must generally donate 10% of their monthly income to the organization. So being close to Silicon Valley and its tech giants can be extremely lucrative.
“Favoritism and Favoritism” within the Google Developer Studio
The cult’s influence within the California group has been highlighted by Kevin Lloyd, a former video producer for Google who claims he was fired in 2021 after complaining about the organization’s influence. In addition to the American company, the former employee also filed a complaint against Advanced Systems Group (ASG), the company that sent him to Google as a service provider. He accuses the two companies of violating a California labor law that protects employees from discrimination. His testimony was confirmed by interviews with the New York Times with eight employees who have worked or are still working in the Google Developer Studio.
Kevin Lloyd is seeking $50,000 in damages for wrongful dismissal. In his complaint, he alleges in particular that: “cult members dominate” [son] former team at Google with favoritism and favoritism”† So the New York Times explains how Peter Lubbers, the director of the Google Developer Studio, managed to involve several members of the Community of Friends in this division of the web giant.
Hires passed under Google’s radar
Erik Johanson, a video producer who has worked for Google Developer Studio through ASG since 2015, said the team’s management has abused the recruiting system that allows people to be recruited as contractors. “They were able to achieve their own goals very quickly because they were able to hire people with much less control and a much less rigorous onboarding process than if those people were brought in as full-time employees”he explained. That’s why no one really paid attention to the fact that nearly half of the Google Developer Studio team was from Oregon House, where the cult is based.
In addition to this recruiting mechanism, which may have furthered the cult’s influence within Google, other Friends community members and their family members were hired to host Google events. In addition, the American company regularly purchased wine from Grant Marie, an Oregon House winery run by a member of the cult, whose winery he previously managed directly. “I’ve seen bills suggesting we buy hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of wine there every year”, explains Kevin Lloyd. If these facts were proven by the US justice, it would mean that Google would indirectly fund the Community of Friends. In this context, the shockwave associated with this case could shake up Google’s ranks and do a little more damage to its corporate culture.