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How Google keeps employees by treating them like kids (2006) (aaronsw.com)
228 points by alnis on Dec 25, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 164 comments

Funny, my experience is the opposite on literally every concrete assertion about people and motivations.

Looking at my team, and the broader team under my director, only one was hired "straight out of college". Well, if you consider fresh PhDs to be "straight out of college", there are a few, but I doubt Aaron meant folks approaching 30 with kids on the horizon when he was talking about people just out of college.

Perhaps a couple are cynical, but I wouldn't call any childish or enthusiastically adolescent, which isn't too surprising, considering that the median employee within two levels of management of me is mid-thirties with two kids.

We have a couple of visiting scientists (professors at major research universities), and they were surprised by what we're doing, so perhaps the secrecy doesn't do such a bad job of keeping things inside the company after all.

I don't doubt Aaron's experience, but it's exactly what you'd expect due to selection bias. How old was Aaron when he wrote that, 20? He probably wasn't hanging out with the median person from my team. There's nothing wrong with that. But, all things considered, that essay contains a lot of awfully strong assertions.

Being infantile means that you are an adult that behaves regressively. People with kids, and in their mid-thirties, can be infantile. I think that Aaron knew what he was saying. The problem is how do you judge whether someone is infantile, because you must either judge relative to yourself, or relative to a role model. If we are to believe Aaron, then we must believe that he could distinguish between a mature adult and regressive behavior --- and if we are to believe you, then we must believe the same of you. And if I'm to play the judge, then I need to know this myself, and I've found it to be a complex topic, and since it involves growth, it is a lifelong pursuit. Perhaps the one objective statement we can make is that we eventually must become independent of our parents and the safety of the parental home.

I'm personally aware of a very incapable 22 year old, fresh graduate, who has been hired for north of $200k.

I'm also aware of a whole bunch of other folks who have been variously hired within months of graduation, so I'd wager there's some selection bias from your corner too.

Base salary? Unless said 22yr old had done some significant research, had an awesome open source project, is an all star Phd, then I'm temped to call bullshit on this one, and your acquaintance is blowing smoke up your ass. $200k base salary puts you into Level senior staff engineer/director software engineer territory. Most college grads AFAIK are slotted at 3-4 slots slower. You're effectively saying the person your aware of was hired almost as a Director level engineer at age 22. Most high level Google engineers are promoted at this level because of the cross-functional aspects of their experience -- they've taken the lead on several mid to large projects and worked across many Google product areas/teams. Experience impossible to achieve in college.

To give you perspective, I've seen CEO and CTOs of acquired startups in the $50-100 million range can land at mid level engineering levels at Google. If incompetent people with no experience are landing director level jobs @ $200k base salary as a common practice at Google, I want in on this scam!

It's a non-engineering role. Don't want to reveal more, as while I'm frankly spitting nails at the hire, I quite like this person.

freudian slip ?

Beg pardon?

you mean capable, right ?

No, sadly. This person cannot think their way out of a paper bag. There must be some talent I'm missing, but in a decade of knowing them I've not seen it. Bit mystifying as the role is secret.

I am not a Googler, nor do I know too many, but the thing that jumps out at me is that the blog post is from 2006. A lot has changed around SV/tech since then, and even more specifically, the size, culture and focus of Google appears quite different from the outside. Google wasn't exactly a startup in 2006, but was still closer to its roots (and only 2 years into its public status). I won't pretend to know how accurate his portrayal is then, or how it is now, but I wouldn't be surprised if a time machine did show a different culture then and now.

I'm 42. Most of the people I work with are in the 30s and 40s and have children. The stereotype of Google hiring nothing but Stanford grads has been over for a while.

As much as I like Aaron, here he is guilty of excessive generalization. Even in 2006 the claims don't match reality. I lived through the first dot.com boom in CA, where companies were falling hand over fist to offer perks, many of them financially unsustainable, because there was a huge competition to acquire and keep talent, as well as keep them in the office for long hours with the promise of striking it rich on what were often worthless stock options.

Google is pretty clear and upfront about what the compensation will be. Everything I was told about what to expect about stock grants, year bonuses, and benefits, has more or less hit the predicted windows. I was never really oversold on what my compensation would be and I was able to do financial planning around it because it was so transparent.

I also don't see what's wrong with 'infantilizing'. We lose creativity as we become adults because of the sheer numbers of rules, responsibilities, and requirements placed on us. If you want people to do good research or engineering, take away as much as possible impediments, like worry over money, laundry, or corporate politicking.

Do we also talk about Phd students and tenured professors in research labs being "infantilized" by an academic environment often isolated from the outside world? I don't view it as necessarily a bad thing. Although I guess you could claim that Einstein still did good work while working at the Patent Office.

All in all the essay is a rather convoluted and weak critique of Google culture and hiring practices based on anecdotal observations that don't match reality.

thanks. I also know people who work at Google who are hired straight of college just like described in the article. Can you or anyone provide us with

1. actual % of people in different age group working at google.

2. Please let me know what department you are working in. That might provide some insights.

Occasional Perks is great. However, if the company rely on that to retain its' employees than something rotten.

Google is just a new IBM, Dupon of our time.

I have heard that google will pay employee's family member $2000 every month after their death for 10, 20 years. I think that is great way to make people have great programming skills to stay with the company even if they are not doing anything exciting or creating values for humanities.

Even if I had the hard data, I doubt I would be at liberty to disclose them. I work on both infrastructure and on consumer facing apps stuff (like gmail). My role working on the GWT compiler means I interact with dozens of other product teams, so I have a pretty good idea of the average age of people I have to sit in meetings with.

Google used to be a youngish company with a low median average age, I'd say that started to change even as far back as 2005. The demographics of the company are greying.

I don't really stay at Google because of the food or other benefits, I stay because of the people, culture, and products. If it ever becomes a shitty place to work on those grounds, then a startup will start to look much better. Many Googlers have in fact encountered shitty politics within their particular area and left the company eventually.

That is, the idea that Google is not an interesting place to work, but a shitty workplace that needs to "bribe" people to stay because it's so rotten is so far from reality is hilarious. I think Google could drop a lot of the perks tomorrow, and there's be some disgruntled #firstworldproblems people whining, but they'd ultimately stay. As I mentioned and was quoted in this TechCrunch article (http://techcrunch.com/2012/02/25/sugar-water/) a lot of the problems that startups "solve" in the Valley are utterly trivial, and if you really want to work on stuff like flying stratospheric balloons, or grand mega-AIs, or whatever Jeff Dean is cooking up next, there aren't many places outside of academia you can flee to.

The perks by and large serve to keep employees happy and undistracted. Happy employees equals happy culture equals higher propensity to work together collaboratively instead of being shit balls to your co-workers because you don't have good healthcare, or must commute outside the office to get crappy subway sandwiches every day.

If you don't think Google is doing anything exciting, or creating value for humanities, than pray-tell, what company in this area that doesn't have great perks, is doing better in those categories?

Death in service benefits are not exactly new and are very common in large UK companies.

You're comfortable in the Matrix, good for you. Just don't evangelize please.

Stating facts to correct erroneous claims isn't evangelization.

What is the moral of this story anyway? That your workplace shouldn't offer you free food, or have fun areas with cool statues, because a replica of SpaceShip One will "infantilize you"? And this is supposed to scare people into going to a "grown up" workplace and grey suits and expensive shitty food?

I used to pay high prices to eat lunch at IBM Cafeterias, and it was terrible food. But this infantilized me less?

>I used to pay high prices to eat lunch at IBM Cafeterias, and it was terrible food. But this infantilized me less?

Well, obviously yes. At least you knew you were in a employee -employer relation, not a "nice person giving you nice food" relation.

I'm pretty sure he understands that Google is his employer and not just some nice person giving him stuff.

Well, the whole point of TFA was that it's not really that easy to distinguish between the two notions, even if you consciously understand it.

That is, the employeer can use the "nice food / ping pong table" etc, in order to get people to work for free (unpaid overtime, crunch marches, uncompetitive pay, etc).

None of which are true for Google, which actually encourages healthy worklife balance even though many people don't take advantage of it. Google has many non-product related company objectives, for example, increasing the number of women in the company, or improving work life balance. Younger people without kids tend to avail themselves of the on-campus resources and stay late, I myself leave at 6pm. I do not sacrifice time with my kids in the evening for the sake of free food. (In general, I don't believe Google HR/People Ops believes that # of hours worked = increased output)

Here's the thing, you've got your view of the world, of Google, and then there's the reality, in which Googlers tell you that your model doesn't match the facts, or that Google is consistently rated one of the best places or work, or that Glassdoor rates Google in the top 50 companies for work/life balance. A sweat shop of induced labor via sweets and candy it is not.

But oh yeah, I might be completely brain washed and believe Larry Page is my best buddy, that's why I spend my nights on social media and hacking on game code, and not working on finishing up stuff at the office from home.

Thanks for the free gifts Larry, I promise from now on I will work long overtime hours for free.


I don't work at Google and from where I sit now, it's hard to imagine myself wanting to work for Google, but this complaint that it's infantalizing its employees is ridiculous. Making your own food and doing your own laundry are not substantial life challenges. Growing up is not about learning to do chores you don't actually have to do. (When you make enough money to pay someone to mow your lawn, are you back to being a little kid?) The whole article is premised on the idea that the status quo in which most adults do have to do (or choose to do) their laundry is somehow intrinsically superior, which is just silly. Think of all the other services you don't do yourself, or even that your grandparents do but which now come in the form of a household appliance. Why do some services go in the bucket labeled "self-sufficiency" and all the other ones don't?

Growing up is also not about throwing out the brightly colored things and getting rid of the spaceship models. Why would you think that? Because someone told you to act like a Real Adult? Because when you grow up, you need to trade in your dinosaurs for responsible abstract art or else...well, what, exactly? Growing up is about taking responsibility for yourself. That's basically it. Maybe Google is preventing that too, but this article doesn't make that case.

maximumsteve, your posts show up as dead (meaning no-one without "showdead" turned on can see them). Not sure why, you seem perfectly coherent. I suggest starting a new account.

I guess on some level this is true. Is there some place where you can work and get money for doing whatever you want, and defying authority whenever you want? If so, sign me up!

Over in the real world, working for an employer like Google is a risk hedge. If your idea for a project this quarter turns out to not be useful, you don't run out of money and end up living in a cardboard box. You learn from your experience, try again, and your family gets food on the table. You can say it's childish to hedge risk, but you can also say it's very adult to hedge risk. Maybe you are a super genius that can code up a solution to a really hard problem all by yourself. But what if the market doesn't like it? Too bad, you're in the same place as the guy who sits at home all day, smokes pot, and watches daytime TV. The market decided: you suck.

I agree with Aaron that we could always use more computers. Sometimes during peak hours, the batch scheduler will only give me a few hundred machines to run my MapReduce on. What am I, a farmer?

Ultimately, I like working at Google and I like having toys in the office. I have Nerf guns. I use Hakase from Nichijou as my profile picture. At the same time, I feel like I'm doing impactful work, with some very smart people. And I feel that I'm evaluated (and compensated) fairly. Does that make me infantile? Maybe so. But I like it.

My real fear of leaving Google is the time I'll have to spend writing all the infrastructure from scratch. And finding someone else that can afford my hourly rate.

>> At the same time, I feel like I'm doing impactful work, with some very smart people.

Ah, you must be one of the stars getting people to click on ads, even more. No matter how you spin it, you make money by what can rightfully be characterized as fraud (1,2,3), or confusing ads with unbiased content(if there's still a thing like unbiased content at Google) while ripping your users off. But whatever makes you feel better

1. http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2013/12/18/for-google-it-pays-to... 2. http://www.seobook.com/consumer-ad-awareness-search-results 3. http://www.afr.com/p/technology/google_top_product_search_re...

I work on Google Fiber. You give us money, we give you an Internet connection.

I'm glad you made an account just for this, though. What a great community HN can be.

> I work on Google Fiber. You give us money, we give you an Internet connection.

...so that there's a pretty good chance that [you] will use Google Search, and [we] will then show you ads. Also, [we] inadvertently created a channel for analysis on [your] Web browsing habits if [we] were so inclined, which would enable [us] to refine advertising even more, among other things.

If those are not the entire rationale for Google's "everybody should be online" initiatives, like Fiber and Loon, it's at least a significant portion thereof and you know it. Hell, it's probably why the Chromebook exists. You and I are kidding ourselves if we arrive at a conclusion that Google is in any other business than data and advertising impressions. Facebook needs eyeballs, too, hence why Zuckerberg has been on the same warpath.

I didn't make the account just now.

The ads are not bad by themselves.

I would contend that advertising, marketing, and consumerism are not noble causes for humanity, and engineers who devote their lifespan to enabling such things are wasting their precious allotment of time. Google's revenue driver is putting products in front of eyeballs. Imagine a world in which such a thing was not a market.

Yes, you need awareness of products for people to buy said products. I get that. But no, you don't need to do data analysis on my browsing and search habits to come up with the most effective product to show me to increase the chances of me buying it. Spreading the word about a product is one thing. Treating the human being as a means to a sale, optimizing accordingly, and creating a market for "data" is another. That anybody on planet Earth would consider my shopping habits worthy of purchase just boggles me, and that I am not even consulted in most cases about analysis and sales of such data taking place is just the icing on the cake.

It says something that I pay Comcast $100/month+ for entertainment and I am still shown advertisements for a third (or more) of every hour. I pay for the privilege of being shown new cars. Repeatedly. Black Friday comes to mind, too, as another example of the feedback loop losing control of itself.

To be clear, things are not bad. Our consumer culture is a little bit out of hand, and I'd rather devote my remaining years to producing something of actual value instead of imaginary marketing value. To that end, that Google let me go was in fact a blessing in disguise, and I just hadn't realized it yet.

Does your assessment of the value of advertising include the things that are funded by adverts?

That covers almost all print journalism, a lot of full-time internet content creators (from the onion to full time youtube content creators) not to mention Google Search, Gmail, Google Maps, Chrome and Youtube.

If advertising includes everything paid for by adverts, advertising is useful to humanity. If advertising doesn't include everything paid for by adverts, Google isn't only an advertising company.

We happen to currently fund some things via ads. But that's an accident of history. If we didn't have ads, there's no reason to think we wouldn't have found another way.

There are rather a lot of industries that are all ears for yor alternatives.

Now that we have ads, they're hard to get away from. You're removing a problem people notice (having to pay) and causing problems they mostly don't (wasted time, wasted money, suboptimal purchases). This path dependence doesn't make ads good, though.

Free market systems rely on informed consumers making rational decisions; advertisers rely on creating misinformed consumers making irrational decisions.

IMO it depends on which kind.

The point of my ad is to manipulate your behavior, typically your purchasing behavior. I understand people differ on this, but I'm pretty comfortable saying it's bad to manipulate others for your own profit.

It's all ads. "Organic" search is ads. The majority of online businesses are absolutely, totally, dependent on google's free ads(organic). Cf. rap genius.

... and the moment you start manually tweaking rankings... You can't possibly claim that you're not managing marketing.

Is that a profitable business in and of itself or are you actually part of the ad revenue funnel? For some reason I thought Google was doing that at a loss to increase ad placement opportunities.

Why should the investment pay off after mostly wiring just one city? The first house certainly didn't pay for all development work and physical plant, and nobody would expect it to.

"I work on Google Fiber. You give us money, we give you an Internet connection."

Real revolutionary, I tell you. No doubt Page and Sergey are having wet dreams by dreaming of the extra data that they get by spying on even more things. Because that's what every Google products ends up being, a snooping device to help Google sell more expensive ads. There's no pride or code of honor at Google, just more ad clicks than the last quarter.

Maybe a put a microphone on each of our rooms to help us? Will that come before or after the brain chip? http://blogs.computerworld.com/privacy/23260/freaky-future-o...

By the way, is what I said true (fraud accounts for most of Google's income)?

Google is by no means a 100% perfect actor but some of your claims found their way into tinfoil territory. And no, fraud does not account for most of Google's income. Google is a public company and you are more than welcome to review those figures yourself.

And in my limited experience at Google, I found that most people are very prideful about what they are doing. It's just unfortunate that most things Google are doing revolve around, in the end, advertising impressions.

And no, fraud does not account for most of Google's income. Google is a public company and you are more than welcome to review those figures yourself.

Fraud: saying from every top of the mountain that we serve results best for the users, we serve unbiased results, you can't buy a top rank on Google etc etc etc and then showing barely distinguishable (from content) ads on top and in many case showing almost all ads. That's fraud to me, regardless of the fact that we have a toothless FTC.

What % of users know a Google ad vs unbiased content? What % of users know that Google Products is 100% ads and in many cases it cost them a fortune?

If Google wanted users to know ads or bought rank from unbiased ones they'd find the way. They can just undo what they did from around 2007 until now.

I'm sure a lot of people would welcome a free alternative without ads. Now go code it. Oh, wait...

I don't pay much attention to these claims, but that being said I still remember testing the yellow-ish colors Google used to displayed their ads on the LCD display of the laptop I am typing this on by tweaking the angle and yes it can become close to white.

Bitter much?

A month earlier, Aaron wrote about his experiences working in a more traditional kind of office:


> Gray walls, gray desks, gray noise. The first day I showed up here, I simply couldn’t take it. By lunch time I had literally locked myself in a bathroom stall and started crying.

So I'm not sure what kind of office would have ever met his approval.

This, incidentally, is the same building that Google San Francisco is in.

Thank you for saying "incidentally" instead of "ironically." You are one in a million.

Ironically, I was wrong about the buildings.

Incidentally, I believe the building has ironic columns.

dorian, actually.

Not quite. Same complex, but we're the building next door.

Oh yeah, there's that weird arch thing that makes them look like they're connected, but they're completely separated. Confusing.

The building appears to be better than average, but the workspaces look pretty horrible.

They're actually pretty good. Sit/stand electric desks all around, and lots of great spaces throughout the building if you get tired of your desk and want a change of pace. I was spoiled in previous jobs by having my own office, but short of that I think Mozilla SF is about as good as it gets.

I have to think his head was wired differently than most of us.

Not that different. I suffered something similar within a month of starting my first job and its being a highly typical corporate job.

Mind, that was probably because I burned myself the hell out at the end of college. I've never worked anywhere fancy, and somehow my psyche hasn't broken again.

Prodigies tend to receive a lot of encouragement and enabling.

Ying and yang, Too much nurturing can be toxic.

What makes you think Aaron was a prodigy? Please cite specific facts or details; be careful because the press makes claims about his achievements which aren't completely accurate. He seemed intelligent perhaps a bit more than the typical person, but profoundly unwise in many ways (if you want to achieve a goal, do so in a way that achieves the goal, rather than the spectacularly inefficient, risky, and ultimately unproductive things he worked on).

  Please cite specific facts or details; be careful because
  the press makes claims about his [Aaron Swartz] achievements which aren't
  completely accurate
Curiosity stoked. What are some misconceptions about Swartz?

A lot of people interpret "Aaron worked on RSS 1.0" as "Aaron was involved in creating RSS", but in fact, he had almost nothing to do with that. There were many versions of RSS prior to v1.0, and it was already pretty established by the time he got involved. And actually, the standard had already forked before that point, and the one that ended up being called "RSS 1.0" was the less-popular fork that never really went anywhere. You'll notice that biographies of Aaron never really mention what part of RSS he supposedly played a role in creating.

He also tends to get a lot of credit for founding reddit, but that's like saying Steve Case was a founder of Warner Brothers.

And he gets credit for helping stop SOPA, but again, it's usually expressed as a vague statement that doesn't actually cite any kind of specific examples of how he made a contribution. I'm not aware of any politician mentioning Aaron or Demand Progress as being a part of their decisionmaking process, or any of the corporations that held anti-SOPA campaigns mentioning that DP was in any way a leader in that movement.

Yeah and Larry Page's Google engine was a toy demo until Jeff Dean rebuilt it. We can knock the wind out of almost anyone with the cutting insight that they were part of a team and not Godlike ubermensch.

I don't know that, IN THIS ARTICLE, anybody claimed Larry Page was a prodigy. I don't think he was (the concepts behind PageRank were already well known, and writing a crawler, indexer and search engine were also well-established). Also, many people worked on improving the search engine, such as Craig Silverstein.

There's a difference between helping pull the sled and dropping in now and then to say hello to the ones pulling the sled.

Actually I think that quite a few offices would have met with his approval. It is not a choice between grey cubes and zany beanbag chairs + silly toys, there are other factors.

I spent a while working for the UK civil service - the ultimate in 'grey'! However, our office was above an aquarium, our research was in oceanography and, as a consequence, we had an amazing foyer (the public aquarium) with a fantastic view out to sea overlooking the harbour (probably the best view in town). The hallways had fish-tanks in them complete with fish that were neither to eat or for decoration, there were 'bits of boat' lying around plus all kinds of sea-going instrumentation. There were plants too, not the sort you get from the garden centre, but I never paid attention to them enough to find out what they were there for. Amongst all of this fun-looking stuff there was a pretty big machine room and half the people there were purely computing staff.

Importantly all of it was the real deal. None of it was fake, just purchased to give some novelty ambience to the office. It all had purpose, but fun was allowed too, within reason. Hallways would have plenty of interesting pictures, you know, the team at the base in the Antarctic, some satellite imagery of an algae bloom, that sort of stuff.

There are plenty of other offices that have some amazing ambience to them. Television production facilities are another example, where there are zany fake things but they are props used for some show or other. Even relatively humble factories making things like cardboard boxes can have cool offices attached, overlooking the factory floor.

The problem I have with Google style offices is that it is entirely fake. The distractions would drive me mad. Everyone knows it is fake. At the same time there is something sick about totally grey cubicles, i.e. with a tech company that just sells software. So, what to do with an IT company that has no 'fascinating product' made on site?

Some inspiration can be found in the Maclaren Technology Centre. This is where the Maclaren F1 cars come from. Sure they have plenty of F1 cars lying around, however, the building has some ethos to it - attention to detail, supreme cleanliness and an air of excellence. It is a complete contrast to your typical car garage. None of it is fake, although I am sure the 'OCD' could drive you mad.

Inspiration can also be drawn from places like Europe where tech companies have taken space in areas that were once used for other things. The character of the old industry - e.g. a dockside building or mill - is inherited and you have something that is repurposed rather than faked.

Anyway, I like to think that there are plenty of office spaces that aren't Google cheesy or grey cubicles but something with character born out of heritage or instilled from some company ethos.

The Wired office -- the one he found gray -- is actually a lot like the one you're describing. It's in a converted warehouse, and still has the wide bare concrete columns (though now with ethernet cable velcroed to the side) and huge glass-and-steel windows that pivot at the center, and blown-up Wired covers adorning the walls... a room filled with old video games and electronic trinkets that Wired reviewed... a public park right outside the door lined with great little restaurants, a baseball stadium visible down the street... Here are some indoor Street View photos:


I can see it now:

How Google keeps employees by treating them like dolphins

Aaron was courageous to post his inner monologue for all the world to dissect, but his judgemental opinions carry the scent of a teenager trying to act jaded so he can fit in with adults.

Presumably one that is somewhere between those two extremes...

I actually have direct personal experience with both of his "extremes" -- I worked in the office he described as "gray" from 2008 to 2011, and I've been working in various Google offices ever since.

There's really not that much of a gap between the two.

To use Hacker News' main rhetorical meme, what would Steve Jobs say?

When he found virtually all computer design schlocky, I'm sure people rolled their eyes. I haven't visited Apple; for all I know, they have the same dull corporate office mindset as anywhere. But it wouldn't be surprising for an idealized Steve Jobs to find the usual workplaces repellent to any halfway creative soul.

The point was that Aaron found a dull grey "grown up" office dreary, but found the colourful and playful atmosphere of Google "infantalizing".

This article always struck me as being composed of two distinctly different opinions. One, Aaron's assertion that employees at Google are being infantilized. Two, that Google's mission and their overall morale and sense of purpose has changed.

Two may be true; I can't speak but anecdotally to this (and nor could he).

But One always struck me as very mean-spirited and unnecessary. As if told by the father in Peter Pan, or Scrooge. As if Google's engineers should be wearing suits (like the "lowlifes" he so despises?) and sitting in Aeron chairs, only, and forgetting about such silly things as dinosaurs and space travel.

You do know that one of Aaron's strengths, or at least a point of focus, was gamification. Looking at this article in that light you realize that he was trying to stir up a conversation. He also didn't seem to bother to be nice, at least when he had an opposing opinion.

I think the word for that is "trolling." And you're right: the article does make more sense when looked at that way.

> I think the word for that is "trolling."

There is a difference between stirring up a conversation you think needs to be had, by simply not beating around the bush in regards to an opinion you actually hold -- and pretending to have an opinion you know to be controversial, just so people waste their energy discussing something you couldn't care less about.

Calling anything you disagree with, or anything written without caring how others might take it, a "troll" is at best mistaken, at worst a nice try.

The word for it is "contrarian", trying to make a name for himself by declaring himself opposite of the popular #1 (Google)

I don't think this is really accurate. It's not about treating people like kids, it's about rejecting the attitude found at dilbert-style corporations.

The T-Rex skeleton and the shark fins are there because they're cool. Google has monorail cars as meeting rooms in the Sydney office [1] - because an engineer requested it. It shows that management listens to employees. It gives people the confidence to propose somewhat outlandish ideas, because if management will buy a monorail because an employee requests it, management will allocate resources to things that actually matter because employees request it. Those stories don't get publicized, but I've seen it happen multiple times.

Also, the idea that all google employees are young kids just out of college who are being shielded from "the real world" by free food and buses is silly, many of my coworkers are married with kids.

[1] https://plus.google.com/+PaulCowan/posts/Sfm9SpV4eCE

I work for google, but I'm not speaking on their behalf.

And posting with your real name! (Or impersonating a Googler)

The article is from 2006. Things evolve.

I was there in 2006. It wasn't accurate then either.

Working at Google I feel the opposite of infantilised. I am given nearly total autonomy to do my job how I see fit (and shouldn't i? Nobody knows my job better than me). I can book business travel, order essential equipment, and even start new work spontaneously without wasting time seeking approval. I set my own goals and am the judged by how well I meet them.

I feel that traditional offices are more infantlilising in that they assume most workers need explicit instructions to get their work done and must seek approval to do anything out of the ordinary.

Aaron here is distracted by the shiny things. As an employee you very quickly become accustomed to the benefits and spend more time just getting work done.

I thought it looked creepy, like an adult daycare center.

I was approached twice and interviewed twice by Google but I don't think I'd fit that culture.

No offices -- just open spaces.

A meritocracy where you are evaluated by your peers generally, rather than by a boss or customer for your merits in a particular job.

Where you don't even know what you will be working on until you're hired, as if that gives you a choice.

Lots of silly signs hanging, some of which would be trademark violations if displayed in public (Bombay Sapphire, etc.).

Too academic (from Stanford days?) for my tastes.

I'm surprised at how polarizing no offices vs open offices is. My first job at IBM, I had an office with two co-workers. They were great, but on days they were out it was sooo isolating. When I quit and took a job at a start up in SF with an open office plan, I loved it immediately. I could look across the room and see if the systems guy was there or getting coffee, instead of pinging into the Sametime void.

So, I'm clearly on the open office side of the camp. What are the main arguments for offices? Peace and quiet and the ability to focus?

I've worked in open-space offices most of my career and I hate it a lot. When I'm debugging or writing new code, I need concentration.

Open space takes it away. There's too much going on. Someone might be talking to someone else. People might just be moving around. And if you desk is in the proximity of the kitchen (mine once was), you're screwed because you're definitely not getting any concentration with all the chatter that usually goes on around the kitchen table. Yeah, sometimes you can block the noise out by putting on headphones and playing some repetitive techno/trance, but sometimes even music can get distracting.

The supposed benefit of open space is that if you have a question, you can just go and ask that person. But we have IM for that. Not to mention the fact that when you're asking the question personally, they have to stop whatever they are doing and answer straight away. That, by the way, is another concentration killer.

I've come to the conclusion that my ideal working space has 2-3 people besides me in it. 4-5 is a little crowded, but OK, anything beyond 6 is bad.

This is something I've found very weird: there's a sharp difference between the opinions of people I know in person and people online.

HN commenters love to hate open office plans. It's one of the few topics on which they agree with /r/programming!

And yet everywhere I've spent time has been in favor of open offices. This includes a few startups, sure, but also an enterprise software company (Guidewire), an academic research lab (Berkeley ParLab) and a quantitative trading firm (Jane Street).

In the ParLab, even most professors didn't have dedicated offices--apparently, this makes them more accessible and gets them to talk to their students more. David Patterson, the leader of the lab--with a lot of research experience--talked about how switching to an open layout was a real improvement in the research process.

At JSC, both traders and developers share an open space. This makes communication between the two parts of the company much more fluid. The founders of the firm all originally came from another firm where developers and traders were sequestered from each other, and they have found the shared open space to be entirely preferable.

Many of the other experienced people I've worked with have also been big fans of open office layouts. And these are some of the most productive organizations I've ever seen--probably some of the best full stop.

And yet most online commenters treat it as a given that an open space is completely inferior to real offices.

Personally, I'm a big fan of working in a nice open layout. It makes it much easier to talk to other people, even if I don't have a specific problem to solve. This makes work both more pleasant and more efficient because I can get outside input or an extra set of eyes at any point in the development process. Moreover, since I'm similarly helping other people out, I get a good sense of their projects as well.

And if I need to concentrate, I can just put on headphones or go to a quiet room. But I much prefer that not to be the default action, only taken when it's needed.

I think the real factor is not open space vs private office, but the ideal working environment is a healthy mix of communication (face to face preferably) to exchange ideas/knowledge/status updates and private space for tasks that requires concentration and focus. Clearly the former would be easier in an open space office, and the latter in a dedicated office. And of course, the right mix differs from one person to another depending on the roles and personal characters.

In my experience, I think I am most productive in an open space environment with flexible hours / work from home policy. Availability of conference/quiet rooms is another option.

My favorite and least favorite office environments were both open plan, it's all about how tightly you're packed in together, and whether there are side offices for private conversations or phone calls.

While my experience is similar, I can also state that none of my coworkers who have had private offices have ever mentioned or even implied in any way that they'd prefer a desk in an open space.

I wonder how many of those people ever had their own office. If you don't know any better, what you have may seem pretty good.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages. For some types of problem solving, a closed space to think for an extended period of time is really useful.

> I wonder how many of those people ever had their own office. If you don't know any better, what you have may seem pretty good.

Coach never felt cramped until I was back there after the first time flying business class. Spoiled for life. If there is some second transition to travel satori -- where mountains are mountains and coach is no longer cramped -- I haven't attained it yet.

For people writing code, there needs to be some way to indicate "I am in the cave, do not disturb unless truly urgent". The most-obvious way is a door that closes. I imagine it can work other ways in other environments.

I used to have my own office and closing the door just meant people would knock on my door instead of popping their head in. Headphones and setting myself to busy on IM has always been the best way of indicating to someone I was busy.

"And yet everywhere I've spent time has been in favor of open offices"

Most office layout decisions are made by upper management--who usually (conveniently) end up with private offices while the rest of the employees are forced to sit in the open area.

"And if I need to concentrate, I can just put on headphones or go to a quiet room."

The problem is that not all people working in open offices have this option. For example, at my company there is no such thing as a "quiet room."

My opinion is that there should be a mix of both. Let people choose.

> quiet room

You answered your own question. Colleges and your office have libraries or quiet rooms to flee to.

What are the main arguments for offices? Peace and quiet and the ability to focus?

Yes, with a heavy emphasis on the cost of (mental) context switches.

Personally I despise working in an "open plan" environment more than almost anything in the world. That said, I do it at my consulting job, and it's tolerable mainly because A. I'm not always in "the office" and B. it's a fairly small group.

I should point out though, that there's a balance to be struck. I mean, even I do like the open plan thing for brief moments here and there... Some of the random conversations that start up are hilarious and I've literally laughed until I was crying on occasion. And I will engage in the occasional nerf dart war with everyone. BUT... on those occasions when you absolutely have to have peace and quiet and are trying to focus intently on something, there's nothing worse than having to deal with all the noise and ruckus that sometimes kicks up.

On balance, I'll take a private office with a door any day. But I've always said that my goal for Fogbeam is - when we get to a point where we have employees, an office, etc. - to give every employee a private office with a door (and a "guest chair" or two), but complemented by plenty of open spaces (preferably around the perimeter of the building, near sources of natural light) with tables, chairs, sofas, rolling whiteboards, etc. so people can get out, be social, collaborate face-to-face, while having the sanctity of an office to duck into for deep thought / intense focus times.

I have also pondered trying to create a few "commons room" type areas.

Of course, it's all a moot point until we start making money... sigh

I've worked in cubicles and in an open office most of my life. I'm now working for a company with offices with doors, and I have to say, offices are pretty much the worst.

In an open office (and to a lesser extent, places with open cubicles), you can have constant interaction with other people. You can scan the room quickly to see who's busy, who's concentrating, who looks available for a quick chat, etc. You can hear all the technical conversations going on and are able to jump in at any point if needed. Someone's sketching something out on a whiteboard, anyone can just glance it over if they're curious or feel they can contribute.

With offices, I've found people tend to hide behind their doors. E-mail/IM can be ignored. You have to force yourself to get out and have face to face interactions. If you want to understand how things are going, what the current challenges are, or have any kind of technical discussion that requires more than a few people, you need to schedule a meeting, pry everyone out of their offices and haul them into a conference room. You can't feel the general "pulse" of the place like you can with an open plan.

The only thing worse than closed-door offices is telecommuting, where all of the above is true plus there's not (generally) even the option of getting someone face-to-face at all. Quite honestly, I don't think I would accept a job offer at a place if you told me that a significant number of people telecommuted.

Different strokes for different folks, but I find open offices suit my work style and need for human interaction much better than offices.

"you can have constant interaction with other people. You can scan the room quickly to see who's busy, who's concentrating, who looks available for a quick chat, etc"

This is precisely why I hate open plan. I don't want to be under constant surveillance by others. I don't want to be interrupted every 15 minutes by people asking me questions. I don't want others to be monitoring my screen and checking up on what I'm doing. And when I'm 15 layers into a complicated class hierarchy the last thing I want to do is get into a conversation and completely lose my zone.

Software development does not require 24/7 constant "collaboration". A quick progress meeting a day, maybe more if there is some discussion required, is sufficient in most cases. If there is a particularly technically challenging problem at hand, then sure--get some people into an office and brainstorm together. But in the end, people are going to be working alone 90% of the time. We don't need to be collaborating [i]all the time.[/i]

Also, you are forgetting the obvious: In an open plan, people talk about general bullshit, not just work. They talk about their kids, wives, weekend plans, the weather, sports teams, the latest tech gadgets, last night's game, etc, etc, etc. It gets distracting to the point where I can no longer do any meaningful work without earphones on. Last week, I measured the average noise level in my open office and it was something like 65 dB (this is equivalent to having a pretty loud conversation going next to you all day long). I felt my blood pressure rising and I even complained to management. How people can actually get work done in such an environment is beyond me.

You're probably in the minority when you say you prefer open plan. I'd trade my shitty desk for a real office any day.

"In an open office (and to a lesser extent, places with open cubicles), you can have constant interaction with other people. You can scan the room quickly to see who's busy, who's concentrating, who looks available for a quick chat, etc. You can hear all the technical conversations going on and are able to jump in at any point if needed. Someone's sketching something out on a whiteboard, anyone can just glance it over if they're curious or feel they can contribute."

This is exactly why people don't like open office plans. People can and will pester you all the time when you're deep into writing really difficult code. In lines of work which involve more interpersonal communication (and don't require long stretches of uninterrupted concentration), designing the workspace to encourage as much face-to-face talk as possible is an advantage. However, in my line of work (systems programming, and this probably applies to most programming jobs), it's a huge disadvantage.

I enjoy the open floor plan as well. The ease in which I can have conversations with my manager (assuming they are sitting near to me) is probably the biggest benefit. I feel this makes me more productive since more impromptu conversations can take place. Being able to listen in on any random coworker conversations and nerf gun battles is nice as well. However, on the few occasions when private space in necessary, then an office would be preferred. Of course, many others prefer individual offices to an open floor plan. Similar to living in a city or the suburbs (SF vs. Silicon Valley here in the Bay area), it is a personal preference that never ceases to divide people.

There's open space and then there's open space. If there are cube walls and other de facto barriers separating my space from the space of others in my team, and higher walls separating my team's space from the rest of the company, I'm happy. But if I have to choose from one extreme or another, I'd rather have my own separate space with an office and a door that closes rather than sitting at a conference table elbow to elbow with a sales guy who spends all day on the phone.


At our company we have cubicles with walls just high enough that you can't see anyone sitting down, but you can see all across the space when standing up. If I need to ask someone a question I can pop up and see if they are there. If don't mind getting interrupted I switch my desk to a standing configuration, or if I need zone time I sit down and go at it. I prefer this kind of office design.

I also worked in both a real open space without dividers, and a shared office. I hated both. The open plan was too distracting and loud, while in the shared office the officemate got on my nerves, yet it was way lonely when she was out. Also people tended to keep their doors closed so there wasn't that feeling of community.

Open offices are bad when people not on your team wander through and have loud conversations. This problem gets more likely/common in larger companies.

Some teams at Google sit in enclosed offices. You can choose. (I prefer some walls to keep the noise level down, and I had the opportunity to pick once. But everyone else on the team wanted to sit in the open area. So I guess it's really one of those things that depends on the individual.)

The signs are the names of printers.

No offices -- just open spaces. not true; plenty of offices around perimeters.

Too academic (from Stanford days?) for my tastes. also untrue; googlers are mostly evaluated on quantifiable impact on products, not by their academic research publications. they are explicitly not an academic lab. for details, see:


This isn't completely correct, although you used enough qualifiers that I'm ok with it.

I work at Google as an engineer, do blue-sky scientific research in biophysics, and publish it; those publications (which are unrelated to Google's core mission) are part of my performance evaluation:

See, for example: http://scholar.google.com/scholar?as_ylo=2013&q=author:%22de...

for a couple recent papers I published with academic scientists based on blue-sky academic research carried out at Google by Visiting Faculty (see this page for a list of the Visiting Faculty and their projects: http://googleresearch.blogspot.com/2012/12/millions-of-core-...)

That said, I really am a unicorn by the definition of your recent post, and there aren't very many of me at Google. After completing work on Exacycle (and handing it off to a team of scientists to play with), I've moved to a new project to apply my skills to something that is completely consistent with the hybrid approach. But our hybrid approach is not limited to computer science.

Many of us who do some kind of research at Google worked in academia, and many also worked in the fabled research labs of the 60s like PARC or Bell Labs; we learned the lessons those labs taught us, and are now applying at high speed and skill to challenging new problems.

As for the term "infantilizing" that's just absurd linkbait.

Right after college, I was enticed by these perks: free food, laundry services, etc. After a few years in industry, I became more interested in the less sexy but more substantive benefits like a competitive salary, a 401K and good medical coverage.

College-like perks and grown-up perks are not always mutually exclusive. My understanding is that Google pays developers well and offers great benefits.

However, my experience has been that some tech companies emphasize their college-like benefits in lieu of providing strong adult benefits. "Stock options? Who needs stock options when you have beanbag chairs?"

If a company is going to play up its college-like perks, it should also bring to the table substantive financial and health-related benefits. Otherwise I can see how it would be difficult to retain young developers as their priorities change.

"Stock options? Who needs stock options when you have beanbag chairs?"

If I want a beanbag chair at my desk, I'll buy myself a beanbag chair, thankyouverymuch. :)

Still a fridge always full of good food is a perk that's comparably hard to get by oneself. There's still the question whether it is desirable (getting fat is a real problem) but the point remains: some perks can be much more effectively provided by the employer.

On the other hand I hate all kinds of the mandatory fun activities at work. These work as antiperks for me.

Or both, or the company allows employees to reimburse their own ergonomic chair purchase. I actually prefer the latter if I can't find one I like from whatever the office provides.

You can't judge infantile behaviour from the presence of dinosaurs. I'm a woman in my mid 20s, I still have a fluffy snake from when I was 12 that I like to stroke when I'm thinking.

Oh no! People derive pleasure from things you no-longer do.

There's a difference between being mature and being solemn. Far too often I see the latter being treated as the former. Being mature is about responsibility, managing your own life, growing to understand what you enjoy and how you relate to others. A lot of people who think they're very adult, just because they don't have fluffy snakes and the like any more... a lot of them I don't see as adults; who've thought about their happiness and responsibilities; I see sad teenagers.

Creatives (designers, engineers, etc.) with optionality (at the caliber that Google would hire) pine for freelance-like working conditions (not referring to pay, but rather creative control, flexible hours, and amenities). These tech firms try to absorb as many of those benefits as possible to woo over employees. In Google's early days, maybe employees had greater creative control over their projects-- hence creating more autonomous and creative working conditions. However, as a company scales, you inevitably lose your creative control and become a cog in the larger machine. No perks can veil this, hence the changing of Googlers' mentalities.

Unless you're at the top of one of these large firms, I have a really hard time imagining any creative and truly autonomous person willing to work for more than a year at any of these institutions before breaking free and either founding a startup, joining an early stage startup, or freelancing.

Who maintains/pays for the site now? I tried going to the top page, expecting some kind of obituary or explanation as to why the site is still up, but the blurb there makes it sound like Aaron stepped out for a week and will be updating again soon, except for the last updated note in the corner.

I did a whois lookup out of curiosity, but the contact information all refers to contactprivacy.com, which is apparently set up to allow people to register domains privately.

Pretty sure Sean B. Palmer is taking care of it (or at least has taken care of it so far)

Looks like you're probably right. I googled him and found http://inamidst.com/sbp/, which says "I’m taking care of Aaron’s sites and data, so email me if you have any queries about that."

I initially wondered about it because it was actually really disturbing when I considered the fungible nature of websites and the possibility of someone posting "past articles" as Aaron.

Google is a mammoth. Generalising it would be similar to doing the same of a whole country. I do not work there but know many that have that speak so highly of its foundations. Like some sort of new form of knowledge discovery and expansion of thought. While it may be infantile this could just as well be seen as an advantage, at least for a while to come. It is one of the frontiers of innovation for company building (and nation building for that matter): keeping people feeling, thinking and innovating like children. However, Aaron was right and this is not enough to keep some great talent from slipping through.

I had two run-ins with Google HR. Once after they purchased a company that had a product that I was a primary architect and programmer for. Part of the reason the process staled was because I explained "I consider programming like hammering nails. I program. I am not a programmer". I found their questions on what languages I program with to be silly. The other reason it staled had to do with their inability to discuss practical "projects" we could "work on together". It's as if Google is an Amish parent wanting to offer you their daughter in marriage with you committing before even getting a decent look at her.

To their credit the words "projects" and "work on together" coming from a potential hire are foreign to all companies. But if Google wants to avoid becoming Xerox in 30 years they would do well to understand this language and hire more like Al Qaeda rather than Ikea.

Developing a more network based structure is not that difficult to envision. For starters get rid of "%20 time", it's a joke. Instead I could imagine something more like: %25 on mandated work, %25 on google projects (what used to be %20 time), %50 time on projects entirely of your choosing that would be handled like an investment (with yearly reviews of direction as a board of a company would) and finally abolishment of most vacation days with vacation taken at will from the %50 and in any form (clustered, by day, half days, whatever). Full time creativity is a form of cognitive dissidence fostered only by industrial era thinking. Creative workers should be given the option to take minor or major pay cuts dynamically and at will in order to replenish their energy. Whereas today, asking for extra time off, even with a cut in pay, carries a lot of guilt for most. Such a structure as described, when monitored, also provides valuable feedback on the health of the employee and company. When you get something like this Google, hit me up on Pond.

The four-weeks-vacation-but-feel-bad-about-that-and-occasionally-working-from-home thing does seem archaic and counterproductive for knowledge workers who are best when they're creative. I can understand how putting a fire out or having chance encounters with coworkers makes the full-time thing beneficial on the long tail, but the accumulated self-inflicted guilt and burn out go a long way toward that eventual decision of switching jobs (if just for the reprieve while ramping down and switching).

Another 2c: Google[x] might be the founders way to avoid the sloth of a mammoth structure but it may also be the one thing that turns them into Xerox. To prevent that expressly avoid the patent-chest-trap and future reliance on this over innovation in product based wealth. If your investors cant give up on future patent wealth secretly plow efforts into reducing the effectiveness of patent-chests for all.

The laser printer patent developed at PARC supposedly paid for PARC a hundred times over.

Simply not true in 2013. They are aggressively hiring engineers of all sorts. College degrees are less relevant. Google, of all companies, have developed some of the finest talent recognition software in the valley.

Google, of all companies, have developed some of the finest talent recognition software in the valley.

Maybe they have, but we won't know without hard evidence. Your assertion doesn't make it so.

I like Google, I've eaten in their cafeterias (many friends work there), and I use several of their products.

And ... I'm aware that essentially all of their revenue comes from AdWords and AdSense. Everything else is subsidized by those two products. No other major Google product has had to compete in the marketplace on its own merits. So, objectively, it's hard to measure how talented their people are. (You're not going to convince me that Google has the world's most talented UI designers.)

To be fair, with the exception of hardware and retail companies, almost all internet era companies make their revenue from selling ads because people have a negative reaction to roadblocks and paywalls. Facebook is just as beholden to ads to Google is.

I would argue that most of the Google products that are successes today in terms of users: Gmail, Chrome, Android, Maps, Search, etc have competed on the same merits as similar products from competitors. Yahoo Mail or Hotmail, for example, are subsidized by other products as well.

I don't think Google has a monopoly on talented individuals, but I do think Google has a better culture than other companies. You can have the smartest people, but a shitty internal culture can act to break their innovation, not multiply it. I've worked at IBM and Oracle and definitely, very smart people at Oracle that I knew of were hampered and stymied by a suffocating corporate layer.

This is like saying essentially all of microsoft's revenue comes from selling things. Google gets paid via ads.

Talent recognition? They miss strong talent just like other companies do.

Growing up is overrated anyway.

I transferred to the Motorola division so I kind of have both perspectives while being at Google.

In some regard, a lot of Googlers don't even know how good they have it. What Google manages to do pretty well is pick the right people for 'the company' and then acclimatize them extremely fast to everything: process, tools, lifestyle and sometimes koolaid.

In doing so are we infants? Perhaps. But fundamentally this is no different than what all children go through (acclimatization to their environment).

I'm not sure working for some crummy company, or a startup means one life is better than the other - they are different. And if you're lucky enough to be able to choose that then that is awesome.

So what's the moto side like?

In what regard -- the question is too broad for me to generally answer meaningfully.

Claims that other people are "infantile" are almost always just a pissing contest. It's an easy way to put someone down since being infantile is hard to define, and making that claim already sets you up as the more mature person in the conversion.

And the idea that having stuff done for you is equivalent to being treated like a kid says more about the psychological issues of the author than reality. Our entire economy is based around exchanging services for money. Google takes it to a (slightly) higher level, although the only perk that people use in real life is the food.

This is typical western philosophical bullsh. As life becomes easier in Western world, people have more time to fret about such inconsequential things. Please carry on!

The Google = slimy politician comparison really undercuts the detached perspective that he's hoping to impart to Googlers or potential Googlers.

> Even the suburban desert of Mountain View is better.

haha, i think mountain view is actually quite a quaint little town compared to sun-beat santa clara, which really isn't so bad either. (aaah, i miss the weather, i do.)

but heck, the late aaron swartz lamenting an HR tact that pervades so many of the companies, software and otherwise, hiring math & science "types?" holiday stylesheet or no, it's a depressing read.

read this before noticing it was written in 2006 by Aaron Schwartz. That certainly colors the perspective. I wonder how much has changed.

not much. i quit a few months ago and so happy to be out of that insane place. they compare your work against your coworkers, so its constant competition, even if you meet your "goals". they also have zero work/life balance.

all that free food and google shuttles wear off after a couple of months. then their non-stop work life settles in and you realize you made a horrible decision by accepting the job offer.

the only bright side is you get stock options and have a great company on your resume.

"the only bright side is you get stock options"

Didn't Google stop giving out stock options something like five years ago? Sounds like "ex-googler1", an account created an hour ago, isn't actually one.

AFAIK, Google doesn't have stock options. I don't think you worked for Google.

We get stock units directly, maybe that's what he meant. I certainly find my team has a pretty decent work-life balance, and we are at a pretty high pressure org as well.

I think it's pretty clear he meant RSUs. "Stock option" is still the colloquial term.

They did for awhile. I still have some vesting.

Try MS, that's where the real competition is :-) I've heard horror stories about how someone on the team simply has to get low performance score, and when you get a low score it's basically a signal that you're getting fired. I can't imagine how poisonous that must be.

MS ended stack ranking over a month ago:


But yeah, a pretty bad system in principle.

Good for them, then.

Apparently you haven't worked for Microsoft. Google is engineer's heaven compared to MS.

I worked at Microsoft and I was unhappy with a lot of the issues people talk about.

I knew a few people internally who talked about Google like they did a better job at company culture, at engineering, at management. Maybe I bought into that myth a little myself, too.

What I've come to realize with some time away from MS and having talked to Googlers is that Microsoft and Google are essentially the same beast. From what I've heard all the worst complaints I had about MS culture also exist at Google.

For now, Google has an edge because their peak coolness is more recent than Microsoft's. I'm reminded of stories from folks who worked at MS in '99 or something like that, when it was still very much a big company but much more pleasant to be at. Maybe Google in 2013 is like Microsoft in 2003. In this theory, the "great place to work" factor is still there, but past its peak, declining, and will decline further, to the point where they eventually get to where Microsoft is today on this trajectory.

Personally I think that too many people at MS are obsessed with competing with Google, and making such comparisons, to the point that they are blinded to the idea that Google can be viewed as the old thing.

Yes, and? WTF does this have to do with anything?

  "Maybe you should work in North Korea, Microsoft is really cozy in comparison"

  "Thanks for your input, Captain CouldJustifyAnythingThatWay"

  "Oh, maybe you should try reading comments from dev/random, they're much worse!"

>Google is engineer's heaven compared to MS.

How so? I'd be crushed at the thought of using my skills to get people to click on ads, or coming up with new ways to mine their data.

On second thoughts, I realize this is bit of a generalization but then again, I was replying to a generalization :P

The Microsoft experience varies a lot throughout the organization. I was on a workaholic team for a year and it was a nightmare. The other four years, though, my typical day was from 10:30-4:00, and whenever I didn't feel like going in I'd "work from home" - typically on my XBox. The majority of the MS people I know have similar work ethics. (Though, it should be noted, we did get our work done. I got the highest review ratings every year I was there.)

I was flown in for an interview a few months ago, coulda been written yesterday in my opinion.

Something that sounds like an ideal is nothing like what you would expect it to be?

That's like every other thing in the world ever, isn't it?

Infantilizing not infantile. Loss of potential given the strong potential of many Googlers. His insight into opportunity costs is bright if slightly imperfect, as always, I'd say.

This is more a complaint against people not solving hard problems enough (a la Steve Yegge) than a complaint against bean bags - those are just metaphors.

I recently got an interview with Google (didn't get it), I'd kill to work with them. Even if they pay a bit less than what I'm currently getting, if it means I'll work on something less boring than what I'm doing now (typical business corporate bs where I'm working pretty much by myself).

Very silly article. There are so many things wrong but i will comment on the first para. T any about living your life when most people seem to be outsourcing even bringing up children in the bay area since they have to work. Laundry and food are hardly about living your life.

I thought HN's algo drove controversial stories off the front page. This is generating a bunch of arguments and yet it's still here. There are other stories I've commented on that get knocked off the front page with less drama than I'm seeing here.

That is what you would expect it to be, too. I see them dominating the world for next 2 years at least but where they go there will determine how strong the vision is of the founders.

In times like these, I'm minded to beware the echo chamber. Coz I'm very poor at telling when I've fallen into one.

>"People read the airbrushed versions of Google technologies in talks and academic papers and think that Google has some amazingly large computer lab with amazingly powerful technology."

Latest acquisition of "Boston Dynamics" and team working at "Google X" and other projects lead to second thought . In the end it's choice of people , we should not have say in what they should or shouldn't.

If I had a talent I would write about companies treating their employees like criminals

The tl;dr is Google Google Goo.

Hm. I feel like Google is following Diamond Age's tips on how to train their engineers. There's a pretty great passage in there about this, and you owe it to yourself to read it. It reads more like a prophecy than a sci-fi book, but it's super good. :)

counterpoint: growing up != performing life-taking tasks like laundry.

Hey, did you also here that there are NO trees on their campus?

They've all been replaced by hash tables.


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