It's not that clear cut. Sony is actually distributing the binaries, but for a lot of potential contributors the GPL doesn't force anything: they use their derived work internally, never distribute it, so don't need to share any changes. One the other hand, they will often avoid GPL'd code because of the potential for it to affect their ability to turn something into a product later. In this case, they'll either develop their own or, more likely, license a proprietary version.
Without the legal constraint, there are still reasons to push changes upstream. Maintaining a fork is expensive. Bugs get fixed and new features introduced upstream and the more you've diverged, the harder it is to pull the changes. This is why Juniper has recently been pushing a lot of things to FreeBSD - they've realised how much it was costing them for JunOS to be significantly different to a modern FreeBSD.
Even with the GPL's constraint, there are lots of ways around it. Companies ship mobile phones with Linux kernels and binary display drivers, by only using the public kernel interfaces and loading the driver late in the boot process, with most of it running in userspace. At worst, they're required to release the code for their shim that exports the hardware registers directly to userspace. For other code, you can run it in a separate process and the GPL doesn't apply.
I asked that would he be so kind and tell me who they hired. He said that he couldn't tell me details.
This is annoying, but it's something that legal tells most companies. If you were not hired for some reason that is not directly related to your ability to perform the job, then you might have grounds for a lawsuit. It's best not to give out any information.
If you only got a free lunch, then you did the interview wrong. The trick with Google interviews is to make sure they take place in a country you want to visit. They'll pay for your flight, meals, and one night in a 4* hotel, and then you can tack on extra time if you want. If you visit somewhere where you have friends and can get free accommodation, then it's a good idea to go through it fairly frequently. Interestingly, even if you turn them down, their recruiters will start sending you emails about six months later about coming back to see if they have more interesting jobs for you.
For a lot of tech jobs, the answer to the second question would probably be 'no' for Woz, Jobs, Gates, Brin, and Page. That doesn't mean that they're not competent, it just means that they wouldn't fit in with the existing team, and that can be highly destructive to a creative environment. That same attribute makes them more likely to go and start a company, which also makes them less attractive to a big company: employees who leave to start a new company often take the best of their colleagues with them, so they increase turnover of the staff that you most want to keep.
The UK tech companies found it hard to export to the US
Because, at the time, the US government would only buy from US tech companies, and most big businesses had their purchasing decisions strongly influenced by what government bought (often for interoperability reasons), which influenced small businesses (for the same reason). Marketing in the USA required a big budget to get national penetration and there wasn't an obvious place to start.
In contrast, a tech company in California could start selling locally and then just expand slowly into more states. Their existing supply chain didn't need many modifications to sell things one or two states over. A British company trying to sell in the USA needed to establish a foothold somewhere. They needed to ship either components for assembly or completed devices to the USA.
Selling to mainland Europe required translations
Is that a big deal? Especially if you went for a few major languages, like German, first. I would think that European manufacturers would have been more used to the need for translations than American companies.
P.S. Wish I had mod points to bump up your post.
For a small company, the cost of translation can be the difference between making a profit and making a loss. You need a big investment to sell enough in France or Germany to recoup the cost of localisation. In contrast, a US company had an English-speaking audience on its doorstep and so could ramp up to economies of scale in the tens of millions of units before they needed to consider localisation. At this point, the incremental cost is sufficiently low that it makes economic sense.
You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements. -- Norman Douglas