Who Is the Mystery ‘Monopoly Man’ Behind Google’s Sundar Pichai?

Monopoly Man stole the show with his spectacular photo-bombing. 

Published12 Dec 2018, 12:30 PM IST
3 min read

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has lived the Indian dream by realising the American dream. A diligent student, Pichai worked hard and got into IIT and made his way into Stanford and Wharton before emerging as the top boss at Google.

A lifetime of dedication and diligence, only to be summoned one day to Washington DC by Congressmen and get spectacularly photo-bombed by the ‘Monopoly Man’.

At the Congressional hearing titled, "Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use, and Filtering Practices", both Democrat and Republican House Representatives grilled Pichai on Google’s data practices, privacy, potential bias in filtering, transparency and the company’s controversial and secretive censored search engine project in China called ‘Dragonfly’.

Needless to say who the real star of the show was.

Is That... Um... The Monopoly Man?

Top hat - check

Bushy mustache - check

Monocle - check

Based on our astute analysis, yes, that is indeed the ‘Monopoly Man’.

Activist Ian Madrigal, who describes himself as ‘lawyer, activist and professional troublemaker’, demonstrated a masterclass in witty trolling as he sat behind Google CEO Sundar Pichai while he testified before the US Congress’ House Judiciary Committee over three hours on Tuesday.

Google 'Monopoly'

Madrigal, positioned perfectly behind Pichai, gestured approvingly or disapprovingly depending on the question asked by the Committee members.

Safe to assert that Madrigal, attired as the mascot of the board game ‘Monopoly,’ was a metaphor for the corporate consolidation by wealthy technology monopolies by literally turning up as Mr Monopoly.

Why Was he There?

Who Is the Mystery ‘Monopoly Man’ Behind Google’s Sundar Pichai?
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

Madrigal, through the trolling, was attempting to make a larger point about the lack of regulation and transparency among the largest technology giants.

Speaking with Inverse magazine, Madrigal said the Monopoly Man is the perfect embodiment for one of their main policy priorities: corporate consolidation.

Pichai and Google came in for sustained criticism after it emerged in August that Google was working on the prototype of a search engine code-named ‘Dragonfly’ that would censor content deemed offensive by the Chinese government.

Rich Uncle Pennybags, mascot of the board game Monopoly (L) and Madrigal dressed as the Monopoly Man.
Rich Uncle Pennybags, mascot of the board game Monopoly (L) and Madrigal dressed as the Monopoly Man.
Photo altered by The Quint

The Intercept, in August, had leaked an internal memo of a Google employee discussing project Dragonfly, which has since escalated into a major controversy including protests by Google’s own employees.

“Users have no say in how Google uses even our most personal data, and the only way to opt out is to boycott the internet itself. When we allow corporations to behave like monopolies, everyday citizens have less control over their daily lives.”
Ian Madrigal (Monopoly Man) as told to Inverse

Monopoly Man Strikes Yet Again

This was not the first time though that Madrigal turned up for a testimony hearing as ‘Monopoly Man’. He had elicited a global chuckle back in October 2017 when he had turned up at Equifax CEO Richard Smith’s Congressional hearing after the company’s massive data breach of 143 million people.

A Troll For the Ages

While online trolls are characterised by vitriol, anger and abuse, the Twitterati and the media appeared unanimous in their appreciation of an offline troll who takes to humour to make a point.

Madrigal even turned up with a variety of moustaches that he kept rotating through the three-and-a-half-hour testimony.

Who Is the Mystery ‘Monopoly Man’ Behind Google’s Sundar Pichai?
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

Desi trolls can, perhaps, pick up a trick or two in trolling without malice from Monopoly Man.

We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated.

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