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Google’s Economic Strategy

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The search engine giant is slowly moving like the rest of the economy. Here are some of the disabled add-ons and some benefits Googlers still enjoys.

What goes: Road Tripsskiingce

When Google was simply a handful of nerds, its founders thought it’d be a good team-building exercise to pile everybody into a van and head to Tahoe for a little company-financed skiing. That ski trip morphed into an annual perk, and eventually employees could choose from some slope time, a camping expedition or a massive field trip to Disneyland.

But like every other perk at Google, the outings became extremely expensive, and so now Googlers will have to go cold turkey on trips to Tahoe. At least at the company’s expense.

What goes: The Benjamins

Google used to sponsor some wonderful corporate theater by having employethousand_giftcees line up outside an armored car to receive a one thousand-dollar year-end bonus in crisp hundred-dollar bills. No longer. Replacing that tradition is a new bit of theater — and longtime Silicon Valley tradition known as ‘eating the dog food:’ Googlers each got a brand-new “Dream Phone,” the iPhone-challenging wireless device with Google’s Android operating system on it. Retail value: $400.

What’s reduced: google_discountCheap schwag

Shirts, fleeces, hats and even baby onesies emblazoned with the multi-color Google logo used to be half off for employees at the Google store. That was good for morale and obviously good marketing. But is there anyone who hasn’t heard of the omnipresent tech titan by now? It’s doubtful. So rather than the 50% discount, employees now get 20% off of their Google gear.

What stays: Free food

free_foodce1Google takes its grub seriously, and the menu at its gourmet cafeteria is the stuff of legend in Silicon Valley and beyond. Executives there view the company’s communal eatery as a way to foster innovation and collaboration. By getting everyone into one place at lunch – even people who don’t typically work together – the company benefits. And obviously free dinner encourages longer work hours.

Still, on a recent visit to Google for an evening event, every single Googler heading for the parking lot was carrying takeout, which the cafeteria offers with every meal. Presumably they were doing what normal people do: heading home to eat with friends or family.

What stays: Concierge services

massagece1Massages, oil changes, dry cleaning, washing machines, on-site doctors, and so on. Most of this stuff isn’t free, but the stunning array of conveniences that are offered to Google employees, which are often subsidized, is a perk few companies can match. Google’s management likes to think that the less its workers worry about the quotidian demands of life, the more energy they’ll devote to Google. And they’re probably right.



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