Blog touts Microsoft work culture over Googleplex life

Insider Google blog says life inside the web giant isn't as peachy as some make it out to be

An anonymous blog post is generating heated discussion for its purported insider's view of the work culture at secretive Google -- and why life at the Googleplex may not be as glamorous as it is generally portrayed to be.

The Sunday posting, entitled "Life at Google -- The Microsoftie Perspective," claims employees at Google's Mountain View, Calif. headquarters are supplied with all of the perks of a college dorm and more, with everything from three free meals a day at Google's gourmet chef-staffed cafeteria and kiosks with tech support staff on every floor of each building, to common bins that are replenished twice a week with free t-shirts.

At the same time, the posting, apparently a Q&A interview with a Microsoft employee who had formerly worked at Google, also claims that Google treats software developers as "interchangeable parts," that few of its employees use their '20 percent time' to work on personal projects, that the typical middle manager oversees 100 employees, and that salaries and benefits -- despite Google's still-climbing stock price -- are inferior to Microsoft's.

The author of the blog, created over the weekend on WordPress and entitled "Just Say 'No' to Google," has yet to be identified, leaving open the possibility that it is a hoax.

But observers say that many of the details ring true with published reports and other accounts of Microsoft and Google's internal culture (see Computerworld's stories last fall looking at Google's inefficient hiring practices and meager stock option awards for new employees).

"I have similar input from clients that confirms most of what he said," said David Goodenough, a Seattle-based career coach who has worked with a number of Microsoft executives.

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, citing anonymous sources, reported Wednesday that the blog posting, which has generated more than 350 comments since it was posted to Slashdot, was likely put up by an unidentified Microsoft recruiter.

Foley wrote that was confirmed in an e-mail from the Microsoft employee whose account is posted on the blog.

According to Foley, the Microsoft employee left the company several years ago to help start a software widget maker called Phatbits that was acquired by Google in 2005.

That employee recently left Google to rejoin Microsoft as a senior software developer.

In his account, Google's paternalistic attitude helps inspire workaholic employees.

"Nearly everyone is on e-mail 24/7 and most people spend of their evenings working from home," he wrote.

"College kids tend to like it [Google] because it's just like college -- all of your basic needs are taken care of," he wrote.

"Mid-timers...tend to be a mixed bag," he wrote. "For these folks to succeed at Google they have to drink the cool-aid (sp) and duke it out with the college kids because Google doesn't place any value on previous industry experience (It puts tremendous value on degrees, especially Stanford ones)."

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Eric Lai

Computerworld

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