It’s good to be Google! Most of the Western world may be struggling with various degrees of above-average unemployment, but one much remarked-upon news item of late concerned the Mountain View, CA powerhouse’s awarding a 10% across-the-board pay-rise to all employees, together with a one-off lump-sum gratuity of $1,000. One aspect of that move’s appeal was how much of a throw-back it seemed as a personnel measure, far-removed from today’s HR environment where bonuses going only to those identified as the company’s true high-achievers, not to every employee, are more the norm. Yet a few analysts could still see the logic in this approach (including, for example, this commentator on the Atlantic website).
Writing in Le Monde, Marion Solletty takes yet another cut at what this latest move by Google means:
. . . the star of Silicon Valley feels itself under threat. Its vital forces, the engineers who fine-tuned its mysterious algorithms, are leaving it. With the eye of a connoisseur they have watched the sparkling rise of the new stars of the Web, the social networks. And they respond to the call of the bold.
Search, and text ads, and YouTube videos: all that is just so yesterday, man, just so . . . 2008, you know! And then following directly comes the anecdote of Cedric Beust (with a suspiciously French name!), a six-year Google employee who now has left to join LinkedIn.
What goes around, comes around. According to Solletty, Google first stocked itself with quality personnel by raiding the leading Internet-related firms of its own period of skyrocketing growth. Now it’s the turn of others, including especially Facebook, whose employee total has gone from 1,000 to 1,700 within the past year (although it has had its own top-level defections), or Twitter, which has tripled from 100 employees to 300 in that same period.
Ironically, Google’s latest salary-move did cost it one employee. The internal company message announcing it (“CONFIDENTIAL: INTERNAL ONLY”), and lauding employees as “the best in the world,” was soon leaked to an industry blog so we could all savor the message, at least vicariously. But he who did the leakin’ was fired.
UPDATE: It’s worse for Google than we thought! TechCrunch now has this piece about a Google engineer threatening to leave to join Facebook and getting $3.5 million in stock to stay!