I knew that Yahoo was growing up (and not necessarily in a good way) when we moved into our new campus and management cancelled “bagel day” and the free fruit. Yahoo had fallen on hard times and started to cut costs. The cafeteria had (bad) bagels and fruit for sale, so no biggie – right?
Cutting the fruit wasn’t a big deal to me – I wasn’t eating healthily, but for those that did – what a bad message to send.
But the real loss was Bagel Day; a great tradition – every Tuesday AM you would find people from all over the company surrounding the little wagon full of bagels. It was great and I got fat eating multiple bagels. But what was most fun was the social aspect. Lots of people chatting while waiting for a spot in the toaster. It was more than just free carbs, it was a way to connect. Ask any old Yahoo about bagel day and you are likely to get a smile.
Google has it’s own share of traditions, but one of the most publicized is how well they take care of employees. Free food, healthy snacks, drinks, candy and good childcare. They put a priority on making their people feel special.
Over dinner with a Googler (a father of a newborn), I heard frustration that he couldn’t afford the new only-for-the-millionaires childcare (that Valleywag covered here).
And today, also on Valleywag, I read about Google’s food cutbacks. The cutbacks make sense on paper, just have dinner in fewer buildings – why do you need 10 dinner choices. Valleywag again: Perks: Dinner saved for Google’s geeks. But I see this as the first step on a long road – utilization studies of which snack stands get the least usage, a charge for “premium” food maybe – doesn’t really matter. It’s just Google saying to their employees “our good treatment of you has its limits”.
Now, I’m not saying Google’s going out of business anytime soon, but I think it’s another inflection point in their growth. We’ve already seen lots of “the first wave” leave to do their own thing. Now, somebody is actually being “fiscally responsible” and looking for places to trim excess costs. Give it a couple of years and we’ll see more and more people complaining that “it’s just not as fun to work there anymore”. A natural evolution in any company, but a sad day for Googlers.