Leaked Emails From Google Suggest it is Considering Bitcoin Integration

Emails from top Google executives suggest that the search giant may well be considering some kind of bitcoin integration.

AccessTimeIconJan 23, 2014 at 6:54 a.m. UTC
Updated May 2, 2022 at 4:01 p.m. UTC

Last updated on 23rd January at 21:54 GMT

It never hurts to ask: That was the philosophy behind bitcoin advocate and bitcoin classifieds site CoinList.me developer Jarar Malik's decision to email the heads of the biggest tech powerhouses in the world - Apple, Amazon and Google - and inquire as to their stance on bitcoin this week.

This much can be seen in Malik's earnest emails to top tech leaders in which he says "there's nothing extraordinary" about himself, other than his willingness to go the extra mile to find out how these industry leaders view the emerging currency.

When none of the top brass answered, Malik says he remained undeterred, choosing to go "down the ladder" from Google CEO Larry Page to query Google vice president Vic Gundotra.

This time, Malik, to his own surprise, received a response: Gundotra referred him to Sridhar Ramaswamy, senior vice president of ads and commerce at Google, emails obtained by CoinDesk show.

"We are paying attention to this issue," Gundotra said in the email.

Even more shocking to Malik was that Ramaswamy answered his inquiry promptly with what he considered game-changing news, that Google was exploring ways to incorporate bitcoin into its payments plans:

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 7.48.30 PM

Elated about his findings, Malik took to Reddit to announce the emails in a post that quickly became a must-read for virtual currency buffs.

Just as quickly as news sources began to pick up on the story, however, Google moved to deny the reports:

"As we continue to work on Google Wallet, we're grateful for a very wide range of suggestions. While we're keen to actively engage with Wallet users to help inform and shape the product, there's no change to our position: we have no current plans regarding Bitcoin," a Google spokesperson told CoinDesk.

The result is the bitcoin community is left with two possibilities: 1. Google is at least open to considering using bitcoin or 2. Google executives misstated their positions on bitcoin.

Malik reacts to the news

Google's public statements stunned Malik, who insists he did not doctor the emails and had no incentive to do so.

Malik noted that he spoke to Google representatives after they were made aware of his Reddit posts, and that they subsequently asked him to moderate a Google survey that would ask "What would I want Google to do with bitcoin?"

"Ariel Bardin, Vice President of Payments @ Google has asked me to facilitate a Google Moderator and pose the question 'What would I want Google to do with bitcoin?'. He's promised me he will personally review the results and pass it on," Malik wrote on reddit.

In emails to Malik obtained by CoinDesk, Bardin indicated that he was not able to comment on the company's plans for bitcoin.

When last checked, more than 4,500 people had given Google over 1,000 suggestions with 40,000 votes, including novel ideas like adding a bitcoin tip jar to YouTube, an addition that would incorporate aspects of YouTube's competitors like Patreon.

Google's response

Malik contends that the emails he received are real, and that Google is taking the possibility of working with bitcoin seriously. But, he believes the attention his posts received likely caused the company to revert back to its previously stated policies.

"I think a couple things happened. He probably gets a thousand of emails a day from people bitching about how their email doesn't work and shit like that, he probably spoke off the cuff.

Those were his exact words, I didn't add anything. All I did was black out my name. That's why I was like what the fuck man, people can be nasty."

Malik was further frustrated by Reddit users who allege that his intentions were to manipulate the price of bitcoin.

"I can understand the natural inclination for people to call bullshit. I posted screenshots, and yeah, screenshots can be faked, but this one Google spokesman, they're just playing it safe.

If Google is not going to do something bitcoin related, or if they're going take an anti-bitcoin stance or come up with a rival product, certainly none of these guys would have responded to me."

Google refused to comment on whether the emails were legitimate, however, the company did not denounce them either. Company representatives rather directed us to a CNBC story on bitcoin from last October, suggesting its stance on the virtual currency remains, publicly at least, unchanged.

Google logo via Flickr


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