In addition to their competive salaries, employee stock options, free food, lounges with pool tables and video games, and other onsite and offsite job amenities (which make Google the #1 place to work as ranked by Fortune), below is another reason why I wish I worked there (even though I love the job I have now).
My cubicle neighbor in our own midtown high rise - some 26 blocks northeast of Google’s New York corporate office - was chatting online this afternoon with a “Googler.” The highlights from their Internet convo relayed the April Fools’ Day pranks happening at 76 Ninth Avenue: Emails on one of their internal lists were all coming out encrypted using Caesar's 13-letter rotation code, most of their printers were either flashing "Please Insert Coin" or "O HAI I ATED UR PRNT JOBZ,” and their facilities manager threw about 150 rubber snakes all over the office at around 6:30 this morning.
From “Life inside Google” at CNNMoney.com (January 2007):
Of course, when it comes to America's new Best Company to Work For, the food is, well, just the appetizer. At Google you can do your laundry; drop off your dry cleaning; get an oil change, then have your car washed; work out in the gym; attend subsidized exercise classes; get a massage; study Mandarin, Japanese, Spanish, and French; and ask a personal concierge to arrange dinner reservations. Naturally you can get haircuts onsite. Want to buy a hybrid car? The company will give you $5,000 toward that environmentally friendly end. Care to refer a friend to work at Google? Google would like that too, and it'll give you a $2,000 reward. Just have a new baby? Congratulations! Your employer will reimburse you for up to $500 in takeout food to ease your first four weeks at home. Looking to make new friends? Attend a weekly TGIF party, where there's usually a band playing. Five onsite doctors are available to give you a checkup, free of charge.
Many Silicon Valley companies provide shuttle-bus transportation from area train stations. Google operates free, Wi-Fi-enabled coaches from five Bay Area locations. Lactation rooms are common in corporate America; Google provides breast pumps so that nursing moms don't have to haul the equipment to work. Work is such a cozy place that it's sometimes difficult for Google employees to leave the office, which is precisely how the company justifies the expenses, none of which it breaks out of its administrative costs.
Even people who don't work here like to loiter: The company has become a stop on the world lecture circuit, attracting the likes of Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher, and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus.
The people at Google, it should be stated, almost universally see themselves as the most interesting people on the planet. Googlers tend to be happy-go-lucky on the outside, but Type A at their core. Ask one what he or she is doing, and it's never "selling ads" or "writing code." No, they're on a quest "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." That's from the actual mission statement, by the way, which employees can and do cite with cloying frequency.
It's easy for Google's people to be energized, though, when their company is so stinking rich that it continues to ooze cash even while lavishing benefits on its staff. Just eight years out of the garage, Google will surpass $10 billion in sales for 2006. Its operating margins are a stunning 35%, and it ended the third quarter with $10.4 billion in cash. Its stock has soared from $85 a little over two years ago to a recent $483. All of which raises the question: Is Google's culture the cause of its success or merely a result? Put another way: Is Google a great place to work because its stock is at $483, or is its stock at $483 because it's a great place to work?
I'm sitting on a heated toilet in my pajamas. I'm in engineering building 40 at Google on "pajama day," and directly in front of me, attached to the inside door of the toilet stall, is a one-page flier, printed on plain white paper, titled "Testing on the Toilet, Episode 21." The document, which is designed to prod the brains of engineers who test software code, explores such subjects as "lode coverage" and reminds engineers that even biobreaks need not interrupt their work.