Google’s Latino-Targeted Domain, .SOY, Inspires Frustration, Confusion

By Aura Bogado Oct 22, 2014

Google has launched a new domain, .SOY, targeted at a Latino audience. 

In Spanish, "soy" means "I am"–but in English, of course, it refers to the beans that make soymilk and tofu possible. That’s probably why it confused English speaking vegans and vegetarians, who also feel they have a claim to the word.

But that’s not all.

While Google claims that ".SOY is the place for Latinos online," some are wondering if and why it’s necessary for the corporation to develop a domain that virtually segregates Latinos into one domain–but fails to truly include Latinos where it counts, with jobs. Over at Cosmopolitan, Alanna Nunez writes:

If Google really wants to reach Latinos in a meaningful way, .soy probably isn’t the answer. Why doesn’t Google (I’m looking at you too, Apple and Intel, both of whom have also come under fire for a lack of diversity) examine its own hiring practices? Google’s latest Diversity Report stated that its U.S. workforce is only 3 percent Hispanic and 2 percent black. Moreover, a 2014 study from nonprofit Working Partnerships USA suggests that Silicon’s Valley’s "invisible workforce" — made up of people in low-paying roles such as janitors, security guards, and landscape workers at big tech companies such as Google, among others — is dominated by blacks and Latinos, while technical roles are overwhelmingly white and Asian.

Over at Latino Rebels, meanwhile, Roberto Lovato points out the geographic irony of Silicon Valley’s failure to engage Latinos:

How can a company based in parts of the United States where the overwhelming majority of the country’s 50 million Latinos live, be so border-walled off from the physical, geographic and cultural reality just outside its gates, so self-absorbed in the virtual world where it is king? Another equally pointed question has to do with us, specifically with where and how Latinos relate to the Digital Darwinism that is (again) shuffling and redefining the social and economic positions of Latinos and us all.

In searching for an answer, there’s no better place to find it than here in the Bay Area birthplace of the digital economy. Whether in the area around Twitter headquarters, in the biotech labs surrounding the soon-to-be World Champion (again!) Giants’ stadium or in the former farmlands where I saw Latino farm workers harvesting fruits and vegetables pushed out by mostly non-Latino workers and companies harvesting the new crop (enormous wealth and astonishing class divisions), the genetically-modifying ethic and the spirit in Google’s .SOY capitalism is clear: We will define you for you–if you let us.

Still, other Latinos are participating in Google’s Latino domain., for example, is creating a clearinghouse of Latino startups and what it calls "inclusive investors," which indicates a given venture capitalist’s interest in backing people of color.