The beginning of the end of Google?

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.

6 thoughts on “The beginning of the end of Google?”

  1. We get free fruit in the Yahoo!7 offices (Sydney, Australia). :D But we don’t get free soft drink which IMHO is a Good Thing. There’s no reason for any human to be drinking a tablespoon of sugar from a can.

  2. goosmurf, I forgot that non-sunnyvale offices usually do still get free fruit and soda (and sunnyvale gets free soda in the cafe). But you are so right, that’s the last thing they should be giving for free.

    And Jeremy…”ah.. those were the days”

  3. Like everything else, Google will soon face its own climax of growth.

    And it can only be coming down – it would be interesting to see how they handle the pressure of natural reaction to the change.

    Google may be able to proactively thinking to maintain the success of high level.

    It can only happen by starting to care about people’s emotions who are throwing the money on them rather than overpowering those people by creating the next Google slap’s victim or by only caring their own staff.

    Remember the old saying goes…”what goes round and what comes around..”

    Nothing can stay highest point forever unless learning the lesson of gratitude and fairness to all.

    It’s time to recall who made them to be multi-billionaires…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *