Google watchers and high-tech recruiters say no, but agree that it is a challenge the Mountain View, Calif., company is going to have to overcome as it steamrolls its way across search and other Internet markets.
Former Google Health Architect Adam Bosworth, Head of Special Initiatives Chris Sacca, Designer Kevin Fox, News Product Manager Nathan Stoll and B2B Vertical Markets Director David Hirsch are just a handful of defectors who have left the Googlezilla for new opportunities and challenges since September.
Losing a handful of talent in a handful of months is not something Google is used to, but it is symptomatic of a company that has grown to more than 16,000 employees in a very short period.
“Google was started with the feel of a university culture, and we understand and expect that some Googlers will graduate and move on to pursue other interests outside Google,” Google spokesperson Matt Furman told eWEEK. “We think this is a good thing for the individuals, the company and the larger community.”
Jim Lanzalotto, who as the head of strategy and marketing for Philadelphia-based recruiter Yoh, places high-end talent in technology, research, health care and engineering positions, said the defections are an example of what he calls the “Superbowl syndrome.”
“How many times do you see people win the Superbowl and say they are going to pursue one of two things: my passion or the money?” Lanzalotto told eWEEK.
The recruiter said it’s in the DNA for a lot of high-tech talent in Silicon Valley to get that itch to do the next big thing. Google may have been a startup where these executives made it big, but they are thirsty for more glory on the high-tech battlefield.
The chance to be associated with a success story like Google or Facebook two or three more times is just too great to pass up and some people leave simply because they want to start anew with a fresh challenge. Someone who made it big as a product manager at Google may feel the need to leave and run his or her own show.
Symptom of Success
Search Engine Land ‘s Danny Sullivan agreed, calling the exodus a very natural progression and one of Google’s biggest challenges in the years to come. Google is no longer a startup, which means employees are neither going to get rich or find the fast moving product development pace of a startup.
“While I think the vast majority of Googlers still find it an exciting, well-paying and cool place to work, the ‘rock star’ element that you want just might not find the stage they’re looking for,” Sullivan told eWEEK.
There is precedent for the Google exodus. Challenge yourself by trying to find high-tech companies in the Seattle area that don’t have ex-Microsoftees. You could form a healthy business from all of the talent that has graced the halls of the Redmond , Wash. , software maker at one time or another.
That’s what happens to companies when they are wildly successful and the itch to try to duplicate the success overwhelms some staffers.
It’s also not exclusive to high-tech. Lanzalotto said pharmaceutical scientists end up in venture-backed bio-technology startups or research organizations because they find that “big pharma” gets too bureaucratic over time.
Increased bureaucracy is a bit hard to find at Google. Like the employees on campus, dogs still roam from cafeteria to cafeteria for free meals and other Romper-room-like delights.
Forrester Research Charlene Li said the company is as freewheeling as it ever was, noting that product managers are still given a lot of latitude to do what is needed.
However, Li said it is likely that as Google matures, liberties at Google are not likely to be as great as those at a startup, and employees who have been in one place for a long time may need new challenges and perspective, not to mention stock options with greater upside.
And for every employee that leaves, it is a safe bet 10 more are lining up to fill his or her role. “There are more people that want to work at Google than there are jobs available,” Li told eWEEK.
Good news for Googlers who leave: “If Google is on the top line of your resume, recruiters are beating a path to your door,” Lanzalotto said. “It is still the hot company.”