As I've written about in my column, Google has lost its mojo. Now even more evidence comes along: Google has eliminated its much-hyped free dinner policy. This is more than a merely cosmetic change. It may represent a turning point in the way Google treats its employees, and its ability to attract new ones.
The Valleywag reports that Google has eliminated free dinners for staff, as well as the free tea trolley and free afternoon "snack attack."
It's easy to dismiss this as the elimination of coddling the coddled, but as Valleywag points out, it's much worse than that. The site dug up this promise that Larry Page and Sergey Brin made to shareholders in 2004:
We provide many unusual benefits for our employees, including meals free of charge ... We are careful to consider the long term advantages to the company of these benefits. Expect us to add benefits rather than pare them down over time. We believe it is easy to be penny wise and pound foolish with respect to benefits that can save employees considerable time and improve their health and productivity.
Clearly, the top Googlers have gone back on their promises, and are looking at ways to slash costs to meet shareholders' demands for high profits. That's understandable. After all, that's what normal companies often do.
The Google myth, though, holds that Google is not a normal company, and is somehow above all that. This latest slashing of benefits follows others, including for the company's once-generous daycare program.
Google succeeded in large part by attracting the smartest and most dedicated people, and it did that in part by offering the best benefits, as the top Googlers told shareholders back in 2004. The more it cuts benefits, the harder it will be to attract the best and the brightest. And that means that the mojo is gone.