Thoughts On The World's Obsession With Google - InformationWeek

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10/26/2007
09:46 AM
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Thoughts On The World's Obsession With Google

People are so curious about Google. Whenever we post images of Google offices, like the photos I took of its new digs in Ann Arbor, Mich., they draw readers like bees to honey.

People are so curious about Google. Whenever we post images of Google offices, like the photos I took of its new digs in Ann Arbor, Mich., they draw readers like bees to honey.They want to know: What would it be like working for a company's whose stock price is flirting with $700 a share? What about all those Google perks, like the free hot lunches and the subsidized masseuse services? How often do those staff ski trips to Squaw Valley come up?

I think there's so much interest because employers generally still have the cost-cutting mentality that emerged in 2001 and affected professionals nationwide. Companies everywhere spent freely on employee perks in the roaring mid-to-late '90s, then the recession hit, and it all changed. I've talked to so many people in varying professions who have said raises are still lower or nonexistent, bonuses have disappeared, business travel is scrutinized, even after we've emerged from that ugly recession of several years ago.

There's still insecurity about the economy. There's the credit crunch, and the rising home foreclosure rates. There's continued problems with the automotive industry -- one that our country was essentially built upon in the 20th century -- and increasing global competition. There's continued fears across the U.S. workforce about their jobs going overseas to lower-salaried professionals.

Then we have Google. Who treats its employees well. Whose single share of stock could buy you a personal computer. Of course people are hungry to see and hear how the company works.

I've been in Google's Ann Arbor offices a few times, and in many ways it's just like any other. People sit at their desks and work. But Google does have some kind of magic that keeps people wanting to know about them, work for them, drive up their stock.

Just the other day, Google reported that it handily beat sales and earnings projections for its third fiscal quarter. Yet still some analysts questioned -- is the company spending too much, hiring too rapidly?

If you're an investor, sure, you want analysts asking the hard questions. But I hope Wall Street doesn't try to neuter Google of its desire to spend on its employees. Investors have only one thing to thank for Google's success, and that's the people who develop its products and sell them.

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