Last Saturday I found out about AlphaGo, Google DeepMind’s computer capable of beating the European champion at the game Go; it uses “deep neural networks that have been trained by supervised learning, from human expert games, and by reinforcement learning from games of self-play“, and it’s still unknown if humans can beat it.
Watching the project’s website I noticed the copyright at the bottom and thought: is DeepMind actually aligned with Google’s business goals? A quick look to their mission statement refreshed my memory:
Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Everything we learn from AlphaGo will help us improve the artificial intelligence field, ultimately allowing us to create more complex systems that help humans make better and more informed decisions. Indeed, DeepMind seems very well aligned with Google’s mission.
As the Wikipedia defines it, “a mission statement is […] used as a way of communicating the purpose of the organization. Although most of the time it will remain the same for a long period of time, it is not uncommon for organizations to update their mission statement and generally happens when an organization evolves. This shows how important is to have a clear direction when developing a new project“.
This little research sparked my curiosity a little more: what about other tech companies? what does their mission statement say? Here are a few of them:
Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.
To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.
We seek to be Earth’s most customer-centric company for four primary customer sets: consumers, sellers, enterprises, and content creators.
Provide a forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe and act as a distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers large and small.
I was disappointed at Apple, since I wasn’t able to find its mission statement anywhere in their website.
You might think, why is this important? Well, I believe it is in fact critical for a company to share its goals with its employees, customers and shareholders, since it serves as a lighthouse when trying to understand how new projects get funded or business decisions are made, but more importantly, it defines the company’s culture.
Even though a mission statement might not be the first thing to think about when talking about a startup (since it requires time and effort that could be invested somewhere with more impact), I’d expect publicly traded multinational companies to have their mission clearly stated and easy to find.
What about you? What’s your favorite mission statement? Can you find it in your favorite tech company website? If not, do you think that’s a good sign?