Googlers' free-food privileges slashed

Owen Thomas · 09/24/08 03:40PM

Food is part of the Google myth: All you can eat, three meals a day, with plenty of room for your friends and family. No more. Following the curtailment of dinner service, Google is now restricting employees to two guest meals a month. Contractors and temps will not be allowed any guests at all. Google HR chief Laszlo Bock announced this change in a memo obtained by Valleywag. Some Googlers, we've heard, treated their families to free dinner every night; others took large amounts of food home with them on Friday nights, to last the weekend. The move is consistent with Google management's war on abuse of the company's perks; cofounder Sergey Brin, especially, has complained about Googlers' sense of entitlement. Yet it's likely to spark grousing. Googlers outside engineering are often poorly paid, and sneaking food home amounts to part of their salary. Google seems caught in a vicious circle of worsening morale: Discontent sparks abuse of perks; crackdowns on perk abuse sparks discontent. Read the memo to see Google's latest schoolmarmish turn:

Google's daycare debacle: the Kinderplex memos

Owen Thomas · 06/16/08 07:00PM

Google no longer advertises subsidized daycare as a benefit to its employees. So why is the company building luxuriously unaffordable child-care centers at the behest of Susan Wojcicki, the sister-in-law of Google cofounder Sergey Brin, and closing down Kinderplex, a more affordable center operated by an experienced Silicon Valley daycare provider, CCLC? If you can answer that one, you're probably clever enough at solving puzzles to qualify for a job at the Googleplex. According to internal memos obtained by Valleywag, Google executives promised in May that its new centers would not see a price hike of 75 percent. Instead, Google management hiked rates 68.34 percent — at the cost of reducing hours and increasing the ratio of children to teachers. Google is phasing in the hikes for currently enrolled children, and offering a scholarship program for the least well-off, writes Laszlo Bock, Google's top HR executive. What Bock never addresses: Why is Google spending shareholder money on a perk that it is now so ashamed of that it doesn't market it to its potential recruits as a reason to work at Google? The memos:

Google daycare now a luxury for Larry and Sergey's inner circle

Owen Thomas · 06/13/08 07:00PM

Life inside the Googleplex already resembles a daycare center, with its primary colors, bouncy exercise balls, and free food. But if you're a parent working at Google, daycare has become a nightmare. As recently as last July, Google advertised its Kinderplex child-care center as a perk, though the rates it charged weren't much below the market price. The reality: Googlers haven't been able to get their kids into the Kinderplex, thanks to a long waiting list, and the facility is now closing, being replaced by overpriced facilities designed at the behest of Susan Wojcicki, the multimillionaire sister-in-law of Google cofounder Sergey Brin and mother of four. Google employee-parents are up in arms — not over the price hike itself, but over the way the decision came down from on high.

Orkut inventor may be best argument against H-1B visas yet

Owen Thomas · 05/15/08 07:00PM

Give us more H-1B visas and we'll give you innovative products. That's the pitch Google exec Laszlo Bock made to Congress as he decried the H-1B visa cap. Projects like also-ran social network Orkut, which was created (or stolen, depending on who you ask) by H-1B hire Orkut Buyukkokten (pictured, right) represent a boon to the U.S. economy, added Google lobbyist Pablo Chavez as he echoed Block's plea for more visas.

Google hires black lobbyist to appease black Congress members

Owen Thomas · 03/31/08 05:20PM

Laszlo Bock, Google's vice president for Caucasian affairs people operations, didn't make a great impression on Congress when he lobbied for more H-1B visas last summer. Representative Maxine Waters asked Bock how many black employees Google had, and Bock proved curiously short of numbers. But Google has since acquired a token clue. Paul Brathwaite, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, now works for the Podesta Group — and has registered to lobby for Google on immigration issues, as the following Senate registration shows:

White Google executive fibs to Congress about black employee count

Owen Thomas · 03/26/08 01:20PM

It's no secret Google has painfully few black employees. Why lie about it? Laszlo Bock, Google's exceedingly Caucasian vice president of people operations, assured members of Congress last June that Google, which was lobbying for more H1-B visas for immigrant workers, had plenty of black employees. "We have a very strong internal Black Googler Network," he said. "We actually view it as our obligation to reach out to underrepresented communities in our industry, particularly women in engineering, particularly African-Americans. "How many [of Google's employees] are African-American?" asked Representative Maxine Waters.