On Tuesday, Google’s employees gathered for an all-hands meeting named T.G.I.F. These companywide meetings are rarely held on Fridays these days, but the name has stuck.

Executives shared highlights from a recent earnings report and cloud-computing conference, and warned workers against taking disruptive actions in the wake of internal protests against a cloud-computing contract with Israel.

But no one in the meeting, two employees said, broached a topic that could have a dramatic impact on Google: its landmark antitrust trial with the Justice Department, where arguments are finally coming to an end this week.

For eight months, while tech policy experts have tried to divine what a Google victory or loss would mean for the power of tech giants in the United States, Google’s employees have mostly ignored the antitrust fight, according to interviews with a dozen current and recent workers, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the legal matter.

Even among Google’s outspoken employees, the legal risks facing the company have become background noise. For two decades the company has been one of Silicon Valley’s apex predators, and its workers have grown accustomed to Google’s breezing past regulatory scrutiny. Why expect something different this time?

Besides, they added, the more pressing threat to Google is a competitive one posed by Microsoft and OpenAI, the maker of the ChatGPT chatbot. (The New York Times sued OpenAI and Microsoft in December for copyright infringement of news content related to A.I. systems.)


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