Google’s in-house lead lawyer Kent Walker is actually the lead lawyer in Google parent Alphabet and has achieved some fame for his take home pay, as we have previously reported, of over $50 million.
His correct title is Senior Vice President for Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer at Google, advising the board on a variety of legal and policy issues as the search giant faces increasing scrutiny over everything from privacy to taxation and other issues.
The Wall Street Journal called him the most influential man in Google who can’t write a line of code (although he does, see below).
His influence is more important than ever to day with increasing anti-trust focus on Google and threats to break the company up and as the company faces increasing Justice Department scrutiny regarding advertising activity among other matters.
The Biden administration has lined up strong antitrust advocates at both Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, with the President signaling moves that will be much tougher on ‘Big Tech’, thus providing further challenges for Walker.
However, Walker remains a keen advocate for the benefits that can come from strong tech companies like Google. As general counsel of a company at the forefront of innovation, from the way that we find information to the way that we drive cars, Kent Walker does not shy away from legal challenges. As Google has grown—clocking about 2 trillion searches annually and over a billion unique searches each month—Walker’s team has pushed the legal envelope to meet the new realities of the post-internet, post-Google world.
Before joining Google, Walker worked at various technology companies, including eBay, Netscape, AOL, and Airtouch Communications. He served as an Assistant U.S. attorney with the United States Department of Justice and advised the US Attorney General on technology policy issues. At the start of his career, he worked as a litigator specializing in government and public law issues.
|Born – 1962 in San Francisco|
|Education – Stanford Law School, where he earned his JD degree in 1987 followed by Harvard Law School.|
|Career – In the 1980s he was an associate at Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Robertson & Falk, a San Francisco-based law firm that merged a decade ago with Arnold & Porter, now called Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer. He worked with eBay, Netscape and Airtouch Communications. He joined Google in 2006 after serving as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in San Francisco and Washington D.C., he started one of the first “computer crime” units in the country and later advising the U.S. Attorney General on technology policy issues. He also served as the first chair of the Global Internet Forum to Combat Terrorism. He later served in executive positions at Netscape, AOL, and eBay before joining Google.|
|Net worth – According to Wallmine.com Kent Walker is worth least $29.9 Million dollars as of 29 September 2021. The site says he owns over 2,497 units of Alphabet Inc stock worth over $7,303,597 and over the last few years John sold GOOG stock worth over $22,639,136.|
|Philanthropy – He serves on the Harvard Board of Overseers and the Heartflow Board of Directors, advises the Mercy Corps Social Ventures Fund,[and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.|
The son of a Navy officer and a public health nurse, Waker grew up next to Stanford’s campus and learned to code using mainframe punch cards before going on to graduate with honors from Harvard College.
He is married to Diana, a former journalist and he has three grown children.
Despite the various challenges and accusations made against Google Inc and Big Tech generally, Walker remains committed to the vision of the ability of technology to improve the world and bring education and a raft of benefits to less privileged communities globally.
As corporate secretary at Alphabet, Walker has reached the heady heights of the best-compensated lawyer sin the world. He recently received more than $50.2 million in stock awards on top of his $655,000 salary. Alphabet disclosed its executives’ compensation in an April filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The stock awards vest over a four-year period.
A significant part of Walker’s day is taken up by policy and legal debates over issues in countries around the world. Perhaps unsurprisingly, early in his career—before venturing into in-house for startups including AirTouch Communications, Netscape, Liberate Technologies, and eBay—he was an assistant U.S. attorney at the Department of Justice.
His earlier legal career involved litigation and public law issues, which continue to hold his interest.
There, too, he enjoyed looking at the new issues. He filed and won the first federal criminal copyright infringement case and assisted the attorney general and deputy attorney general on technology questions and issues like the allocation of federal prosecutors across the U.S.
Walker has compared working for Google like taking a law exam every day, with new issues continuing to arise.
In November 2021 Google lost an EU appeal to overturn a landmark antitrust ruling by the European regulators that saw Google hit with a $2.8 billion fine, cementing efforts by the EU to clamp down on Big Tech companies.
The EU decision is but one of many claims, cases and challenges that face Walker and his legal team. Among the recent issues he has had to handle has been the settlement of an FTC antitrust investigation into search and ads; settling a major Viacom copyright case against YouTube and another major fight with Oracle over software copyright.
The legal team under his control have also handled several hudnred corporate acquisitions and deals, including the purchase and sale of Motorola and Alphabet’s restructuring.
The Google legal team have also argued for free expression in debates over the rulings in the European Court of Justice on the ‘right to be forgotten’ and legal challenges to content on Google’s search engine, YouTube, Google Maps and others.
The continuation of the Google ‘law exams’ continue with continued development in machine learning, AI, advanced genetics and other boundary-breaking issues that challenge social and legal norms.