Just like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, it will last forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever...
At Google, Cube Culture Has New Rules
By STEVE LOHR
Google, like I.B.M., says that it is forging a corporate culture in which success depends on performance.
But while I.B.M. is an old company that has revamped the social contract with its workers, Google is writing a new one from scratch.
Some of Google's benefit and compensation practices resemble I.B.M.'s. The retirement plan is a tax-deferred 401(k) program with employee savings matched by company contributions, as it is for new employees at I.B.M. starting this year. Annual bonuses at Google range up to 25 or 30 percent, as they do at I.B.M.
Yet Google portrays itself as a special place, starting with its company motto, "Don't Be Evil." And its programs and perks for employees are unusual, even by the often-generous standards of young Silicon Valley companies in good times.
Meals of all kinds, painstakingly prepared by company chefs, are free at the company's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., a modern corporate campus known as the Googleplex. Other amenities there include children's day care, doctors, dry cleaning, laundry, a gym, and basketball and volleyball courts. Maternity or paternity leave is 12 weeks at 75 percent of full pay. There is also up to $500 available for takeout meals for the entire family after a newborn arrives, courtesy of Google. Shuttle buses (with wireless Internet access for working while commuting) ferry employees to the Googleplex from throughout the Bay area.
And the big perk: the company's engineers are given 20 percent of their time to pursue their own ideas instead of company assignments.
The company is currently hiring about 10 people a day, adding to a workforce of more than 5,000. The essence of the Google pitch, said Shona L. Brown, vice president of operations, is: "Hey, come join us doing really exciting things. We're trying to change the world."
That prospect proved appealing to Paul Rademacher, 31, who came to Google in September from DreamWorks, where he worked on the software behind movies like "Shrek 2" and "Madagascar." Mr. Rademacher caught the attention of Google executives with a Web site he built on his own, www.housingmaps.com, which links Google's mapping software with property listings on Craigslist, the online bulletin board, to display houses and neighborhoods.
After talking to Google engineers and executives, Mr. Rademacher came away impressed that the company was a place that gave people "room to do great things." At Google, he is working on new products that remain secret.
In previous jobs, Mr. Rademacher rarely thought beyond a year or two, but he said he could see himself staying at Google for a long time. "If you really feel that you're part of the larger effort, that you have both opportunity and ownership, loyalty does follow," he said.
To encourage a sense of ownership, all Google employees receive stock grants or options. With revenues growing at nearly 100 percent and profit rising faster, Google's stock price has more than doubled so far this year. So there are a lot of happy owners these days. The company also doles out cash payments, including Founders' Awards of millions of dollars, for innovations that add value to the Google franchise.
But what happens to all this corporate largesse when, someday, the laws of economic gravity are felt at Google and growth slows sharply or worse? The thinking seems to be that any slowdown will be a soft landing that can be managed by easing the pace of hiring. Real belt-tightening, apparently, is unimaginable.
"We will not pull back on our commitments to employees," Ms. Brown said. "The last thing we would do is take it out of the hide of our employees. That is a path to a downward spiral."