A recent article on PBS’s website has raised an interesting scenario about Google’s inevitable fall.
The idea of a company beating Microsoft was in Bill Gates’ mind back in the 1990’s. Gates himself predicted the inevitable rise of a company, yet to be founded, to threaten Microsoft. He had the right idea. But what is going to make Google fall?
Some pundits are suggesting that the 80/20 rule that Google encourages it’s employee’s to adopt could be the catalyst. Google wants it’s talented people to spend 20% of their time on personal projects that might help themselves or others and don’t we all wish we were able to have this opportunity. Well the more Google rejects the ideas that come out of this 20% of time, the more people may feel the need to rebel and get out of the Google umbrella so that they can pursue their entrepreneurial goals and ideas. Perhaps Google is encouraging people with the 20% play time but they may not realize what effect it could have in the long run.
As with other large companies, Google also provides everything to their employees for free, further pushing their employees to work even more than others would. By design each worker is no more than 100 feet from a bathroom or food or drink and it’s all free. You don’t have to leave to get lunch, a snack or whatever. With the extra time, people goof off, bond, brainstorm on the pet projects which Google and others leverage. The only thing Google doesn’t do is provide their technical people with guaranteed sense of satisfaction since 99.75 of the pet projects have been REJECTED by the company.
Consider these issues along with Google’s 4-yr stock vesting policy for employees, and Google could end up with even more dissatisfaction from those people who decided to move on before the vest period. In any high-tech company there is an employee change of attitude that comes with being fully vested. At Microsoft in the 1980s some people wore buttons that said “FYIFV,” which stood for “F**k You I’m Fully Vested.” At companies that have gone public, as Google has, there is often also an outflow of employees around that four-year anniversary. Google has even made it easier for its employees to leave the company by instituting a program in partnership with Morgan Stanley where Google employees can sell their vested, but unexercised stock options.
With hundreds — and soon thousands — of Google employees vested and solvent, we’ll shortly see a dribble, then a river, then a flood of former Google employees with time, money, and experience, and some of them will have the drive to realize the dreams of those thousands of ideas that were rejected by their former company.