Bea & I picked up two of my teenage nephews from the airport yesterday for an annual trip out to the west coast from Kentucky, or someplace thereabouts. Then we proceeded up to the Google complex right near the Shoreline Amphitheater where we met Bea’s niece, a Stanford grad and now very happy employee of Google.
I think the experience was a bit lost on the boys. Google is something that gives them search results, but they had no clue as to the disruption it has caused and is causing in the general webosphere; nor what some of its plans are, such as it’s book project and 4th generation wireless, i.e., wide-area high-speed networks open to all appliances and applications. YouTube. The list goes on. Google has really become somewhat of an ubiquitous value for many. They’re behind so many things, now, that you don’t notice them so much anymore. But if they were suddenly gone?
Anyway, it was a thoroughly amazing experience. All the stories are
true: bicycles — all identical — in droves, just sitting there so employees can easily and quickly get themselves from one part
of the campus to another. Valet parking; on site haircuts and massages
— even a medical doctor any employee can visit. On site fitness rooms
with personal trainers. The list goes on. And then, of course, there’s
the free food that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner for employees
and their guests. And they don’t seem to be making any accounting
whatsoever as to how many guests or how frequently an employee brings
them. I saw at least three cafeterias and all looked wonderful. We
chose to eat in the main one, and let me just say that it rivaled many
nice buffets I’ve patronized in Vegas.
First class all the way, yet easy and informal. You just grab a tray and go to whichever of the different stations serving different kinds of food you like. Then there are coolers strewn about with all manner of soft drinks and water (I went with the Pellegrino).
I wonder how long a business model such as this can last. All companies, sooner or later, hit tough times because they can’t predict the future. When they do, they take a look around and determine what needs to change in order to proceed forth. Will such lavish employee benefits get axed?
I suspect it will take a long time, if ever. It’s really such an obvious and unique aspect of the Google culture that you can’t imagine it not being there, because then it wouldn’t be Google. And they do it all without labor unions (imagine that). They do it, simply, by hiring only excellence. When you do that; when you take care of things on a fundamental level, then problems like abuses of benefits never crop up in any big way. Can’t get out of their own way dinosaur companies such as the auto and other big industries suffer with employee abuse of benefits because they hire crap for so many of their employees. Google isn’t doing that, and I hope they never do — though I’m just waiting for the day when hiring based on intelligence becomes the target of discrimination litigation. If it hasn’t happened already, it will, and Google will be forced to make sure they have an adequate percentage of idiots, morons, and retards on staff.
Actually, ‘J’ works in HR, and she states it most frankly: her job is to find and then hire only the smartest people. So, they discriminate. And they discriminate because survival demands discrimination — all the time and every day. Only morons don’t know that — you know, the kind who toss the word around like it’s a pejorative, rather than an essential attribute of a proper human being, not to mention a company.