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Google's Turn To Be The Villain 835

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the only-a-matter-of-time dept.
caesar79 writes "The New York Times has an article titled "Relax, Bill Gates; It's Google's Turn as the Villain" (also evil but at least free registration required) According to the article, the "go-getting" attitude of Google is coming across as arrogance to many people in the Valley. More importantly, it draws attention to the fact that Google has drained the market of talent, caused a 25% to 50% hike in salaries and made it difficult for startups to get funding."
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Google's Turn To Be The Villain

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  • Damn you Google! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MoxCamel (20484) * on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:37PM (#13390123)
    Google has...caused a 25% to 50% hike in salaries and made it difficult for startups to get funding."

    So, Google is a villain for improving the wages of technologists, and also retroactively (circa 2000) making it harder for startups to get funding?

    <emote=plea style=Jon Stewart> Oh Google, why must you be so evil?<

    Mox

    • {emote=scream style=Kahn}Googleeeeeeeeeeeeeee!{/emote}

      You know it was coming.

      Btw, nice Stewart style there.
    • by mauriatm (531406) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:46PM (#13390207) Homepage
      Disclaimer (I didn't read the article), but I imagine they refer to the inflated market value of a software engineer and the retention costs of good talent. (Which may or may not translate to added costs for the end user.) ... I do imagine that the best talent may not thrive in every aspect if compacted in only one company. I would think some competitive nature is required. People will still need to "break the mold" - even if that mold eventually becomes the Google way of doing things.
    • Re:Damn you Google! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by grotgrot (451123) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:47PM (#13390219)
      The irony is that Google pays below what other companies do! (Ask anyone who has been made an offer). The working conditions are what is so different, with many people willing to be paid lower in return for such good conditions.

      The startups are offering worse working conditions and so they have to pay more to tempt people away.

      • Re:Damn you Google! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by whoever57 (658626) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:19PM (#13390558) Journal
        The startups are offering worse working conditions and so they have to pay more to tempt people away.
        Makes you wonder why those startups can't improve working conditions. Is it more expensive to improve working conditions than to increase salaries, or just too difficult for these entrepreneurs to do?

        Some of the benefits might be difficult to reproduce for smaller companies (such as the cafeteria), but there is no shortage of very nice office space in the valley nor is there any great difficulty in allowing engineers a certain amount of time and resources for their personal projects.

        • Re:Damn you Google! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by bmwm3nut (556681) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:29PM (#13390662)
          Makes you wonder why those startups can't improve working conditions. Is it more expensive to improve working conditions than to increase salaries, or just too difficult for these entrepreneurs to do?

          i think it's just stupidity. joel from joel on software has a good article about paying people in things "cheaper than money." and that in the end it's cheaper for the company, for example, to give away free drinks because employees value it more than it cost you. here's the article: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog00000000 50.html [joelonsoftware.com]
      • Re:Damn you Google! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:21PM (#13390577)
        Uh, well, a few months ago I did the offer/counter offer thing with Google and there was nothing below average about what they were offering me. I know more than a few who work there and none make less than they did at their previous gigs.

        What turned me off was the interview process, the whole rediculous MS style crap; Im suprised I didnt get an ink blot test or have someone read the lumps on my skull. That tells me something very unflattering about a company, and any company that wants to hire me after one of those interviews just increased my cost 50% more than it would have been had they a more-sane interview approach.
    • by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:00PM (#13390359)
      So, Google is a villain for improving the wages of technologists, and also retroactively (circa 2000) making it harder for startups to get funding?

      That's certainly evil if you are an investor, they're behind the great outsourcing spree of Y2K. It's not evil to John Q. Public. (Now whether Google remains the free and helpful search engine we're used to, is still dubious)

      But seriously, who in the hell seriously believes they've drained the market of talent? How many readers honestly do not know at least a dozen people who want to leave but cannot due to a poor job market or fear of a pay cut?

      The job market still sucks, it's not as awful as it was a few years ago, but it's not good. People aren't going to float their resume's around until they're sure they won't put their existing job in jeopardy.

    • by DavidNWelton (142216) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:12PM (#13390491) Homepage
      Those numbers don't sound right to me. How many people work at google? Say their salaries are really high.. there are still many other places that *aren't* google out there who are not going to pay those prices. Perhaps salaries have gone up for the cream of the crop, but 25-50 percent still sounds like a huge spike in an area with such a large quantity of software people.

      To me this seems like one of those times where someone just threw out a number and that number instantly becomes the focus of everyone's attention because they don't have any better numbers.
      • by blamanj (253811) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:44PM (#13390822)
        You are in fact, quite correct to question those numbers. Let's look at the original quote.

        Google, Mr. Hoffman said, has caused "across the board a 25 to 50 percent salary inflation for engineers in Silicon Valley" - or at least those in a position to weigh competing offers.

        First, Mr. Hoffman begins with a load of steaming hyperbole. Then the reporter appears to add some facts to the stew.

        It appears that there has been salary inflation for those who have highly desirable skillsets. However, I can tell you for damn sure that there has not been across the board salary inflation. Ask any engineer in the valley how much his/her salary increased in the past two years.
        • by Alex P Keaton in da (882660) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @04:39PM (#13392381) Homepage
          or at least those in a position to weigh competing offers.
          Wait, that's new? Isn't that in every field? Like, what does a top grad from a law school make his first year compared to one in the middle of his class, or even in the top 15%.
          Isn't this true in pro sports- the guys who garner competing offers generally make a lot... and so on. and so on...
          The only place this isn't true is with unionized places....
    • by NatteringNabob (829042) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:47PM (#13390854)
      Amen, brother. I wonder when it beame evil to pay talented people what they were worth, but I guess it must be an afront to folks like Jonathan Schwartz that get paid to continually screw up and write moronic stuff on their blog.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:37PM (#13390126)
    Sure thats going to make your average coder hate google...
    • by StarOwl (131464) <starowl-dotslash ... m minus caffeine> on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:58PM (#13390336) Homepage
      Sure thats going to make your average coder hate google...

      I love the idea that talented people can make more money, especially in areas with ridiculously high costs of living.

      However, consider the coder who comes up with an idea for the next killer app. If they can't get startup funding to hire a few extra sets of brains and typing-fingers domestically, what are their options? Seek assimilation by a corporation, or get in touch with the folks in Bangalore, it seems.

      If the talent pool is drying up, be it from Google's quest for brainpower or from other reasons, then perhaps it's time to seek the means to increase the pool.

      (Geeks ordered to reproduce; film at 11!)
      • by mrlpz (605212) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:19PM (#13390562)
        No..it's time for companies to maybe think "out of the valley" for once. Not all of us care to live in Cali. I'd rather see the sun RISE over the water, than set ( but if you're lucky enough to live in FL you can see both. I can just hear the "voting" jokes...c'mon, bring'm on. ).

        Still, the point is there. Startup company's over there hem and haw about not finding talent this, or talent that. Get a CLUE, most of us don't want to live in Overpriced-everything land, ok ?

        So if that there aren't enough engineers in the valley is the excuse start ups are using to try to get in more H1B's then they deserve to crash and burn like they did during the DotBomb Boom. There is NOT a shortage of qualified engineers in the United States of America ( and Canada ). What there IS a shortage of, is legislators who will stop being namby-pamby's whenever someone like Bill G complains that it's costing him 2 Million more to drill out a new wing for his house, and his financials won't look right because he can't get the number of UNDERPAID H1B's and F1's that he wants.

        There isn't a shortage of skilled engineers, it's not like we're picking tomatoes out of the ground people, it's that company's have come up with progressively sneakier and more loop-hole clinging ways to try to maintain the pay scales down.

        Hence, why I've gone back to contracting. As long as you're going to think you're going to run your company with impunity, I'll charge you for the privilege of that false sense of power.

        I've said it before, and I'll say it again,....more power to the company who is prepared to pay for a skill, they will keep that skill longer, and get more ROI dollar for dollar, out of that person, than the company who isn't. Sure, some of you younger guys are willing to work for "wheatgrass" drinks, but just wait until you have a family and have REAL bills, we'll see if that extra indoor basketball court is really worth that absense of a commensurate salary.

      • Or MOVE (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SuperKendall (25149) * on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:28PM (#13390648)
        However, consider the coder who comes up with an idea for the next killer app. If they can't get startup funding to hire a few extra sets of brains and typing-fingers domestically, what are their options?

        Well one option is to leave freaking California! There are a lot of talented programmers that for whatever reason do not want to live in CA. Find a place where a lot of them are and go there.

        If you can't stand the heat then move somewhere cold.
  • by QuantaStarFire (902219) * <.ed.kehoe. .at. .gmail.com.> on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:37PM (#13390127)
    Yet so driven has Google been in its pursuit of new markets that at least a few in Silicon Valley are using an epithet to taunt Google that people here once reserved for Microsoft: "The Borg," a reference to an army of creatures in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" that took over civilization after civilization with machinelike precision.

    I disagree. I think Microsoft earned their title, and I doubt it's gonna go away. I'd like to think that the Google invasion is going over more like the story in Doom3:

    You are too late...Google no longer needs Internet Explorer! The innovation you saw was only the FIRST WAVE! The Google Browser is capable of sending MILLIONS of our ads into your world!

    Soon, the folks from Slashdot will be here, and with their computers, we will BRING THIS HELL TO EARTH!

    Or something to that effect, anyways.

  • by nokilli (759129) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:38PM (#13390133)
    For instance, everyone who identifies BillG as the wellspring of all evil forgets how scared we all were of IBM back in the day. Now IBM is seen with much favor in the community. It wouldn't be that way were it not for Microsoft.

    So really, it isn't Google's turn to be villain, it's Microsoft's turn to be the good guys.

    Hrm, did I really just say that?

    --
    You didn't know. [tinyurl.com]
    • by Spetiam (671180) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:43PM (#13390192) Journal
      I for one, welcome our new borg overlord.

      Wait a minute...
    • by interiot (50685) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:49PM (#13390246) Homepage
      Wake me up when Google a) starts being remotely monopolistic, or b) drops their support for open source.

      IBM is cool now because they're actively 1) paying for linux advertising (related to IBM, but still), 2) writing lots of Linux articles, 3) contributing to linux, etc etc.

      Google Talk is cool because it uses an open, standardized protocol. You can't really go after Google under the Sherman Act for using the Jabber protocol.

      It's still possible for Google's management to change, and for them to start leveraging their massive marketshare in a way that directly inhibits search engine competitors. Until they try something like this though, I'm going to sleep well.

      (and note that MS is still, by far, the least likely to contribute to open source, or even seriously grok open standard protocols)

    • Picking up patterns (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Iriel (810009) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:10PM (#13390463) Homepage
      I think people are actually scared of Google because they don't know what to think of it. At first, everyone wanted to know how to achieve the golden orgasmic PageRank 10 from that little upstart search engine with such a simple friendly page. Now you have companies paying large sums of money to have 'experts' optimize their site for a seemingly great and monolithic Google, sometimes at the cost of ignoring all other search engines. So with this gigantic company, they have a Think Big kind of attitude, as the article points out. Where have we heard that before?...

      Here's where everyone gets confused, though. Google isn't forcing its software onto nearly every computer manufactured. They aren't trying to force any sort of vendor lock-in or commit evil business practices so they can continue to give you "good enough" software either.

      Forgive me for quoting people's gripes with Microsoft, but that's the difference between the services provided. To the end user, Google isn't costing us much of anything. People wanted a company to kill Microsoft, and now they might get it...and it scares them because the company they're tired of wanted to 'Think Big' and have big ambitions a long time ago too. People are trying to attribute the track history of MS to Google simply because of how quickly Google has taken off, and the fact that both companies were open about having great ambitions early-on.

      Who hasn't? Can a company honestly succede without big goals to reach for? No.

      On the other side of things, I was waiting for the day that Google would start getting bad press for anything and nothing. So far, every search engine that soared after it's IPO sunk not too long after and was quickly tossed to the wayside. Yahoo! actually survived surprisingly enough, but Google seems to be going another route: They're still worth money (and lots of it) but now some are turning from curious to suspicious about their former favorite. The little child with lots secrets can be seen as cute, the rich and powerful social elite with lots secrets must be hiding something malignant.

      The only part about the negative press that annoys me is that nobody is giving Google the flexability to be a new company. They have to know how to behave like a giant from the start, and giants obviously must behave like monsters as far as the press is concerned.
    • by scotty777 (681923) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:14PM (#13390513) Journal
      Yes, both IBM and Bill Gates' Microsoft became feared and hated. WHY is the $64. question!

      And: is the same reason applicable to Google?

      Well, Both MS and IBM were perceived to be bullys. They used their overwhelming advantages in one market to extend control to other markets. Typically, they cut prices in the new markets in order to drive competitors out, even competitors with superior products. The investment community saw this, and feared investing in excellent products and technologies whenever Microsoft trumpeted that they were moving into a market. I can only think of two products that survived that onslaught: Oracle and Quicken. This is the fear, uncertainty, doubt (FUD) strategy.

      The other bullying tactic which both used was to offer low ball buyouts to companies with promising technologies. They would, at the same time, threaten to buy similar technologies elsewhere, and then overwhelm their target company. In many cases, Microsoft seemed to steal technology outright, both from buyout targets, as well as from partner companies. In short, they were thugs, and were known as such.

      IBM has changed over the last 20 years. Bill Gates still sings the same tune that he did 20 years ago. I haven't heard those notes from Google.

    • Ah.

      Microsoft has to lose their biggest market and nearly go out of business first.

      Remember, people were mad and afraid of IBM because they had the market on various things, most notably mainframes, locked up.

      When the dominance of Windows is over, then there's room for thinking happy thoughts about Microsoft.
  • by justin12345 (846440) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:38PM (#13390135)
    they hire a lot of people and pay them well?
    • by garcia (6573) * on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:43PM (#13390185) Homepage
      From the article:

      "I've definitely been picking up on the resentment," said Max Levchin, a founder of PayPal, the online payment service now owned by eBay. "They're a big company now, doing things people didn't expect them to do."

      Obviously hoarding engineers and paying them well is something that the rest of the industry isn't doing so why shouldn't they resent Google?

      Especially when Google releases well-received products that are "free".

      Kinda ruins the business model for everyone else.
    • by Dmala (752610) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:46PM (#13390214)
      I've heard a lot of whining like this from the business community lately. I saw an article about Costco a while back, and their revolutionary practice of (gasp!) treating their employees like human beings. In the article, some fund manager was complaining that "it's almost better to be an employee than to be a stockholder." Unfortunately, they didn't ask him to elaborate on why this would be a bad thing.
  • by PhYrE2k2 (806396) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:38PM (#13390136)
    caused a 25% to 50% hike in salaries


    Increased salaries is bad for business and the number of employ hired, but you can't quote a 25-50% hike in salaries as a bad thing... c'mon!

    -M
  • Blah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by databyss (586137) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:38PM (#13390138) Homepage Journal
    I think the complaints are mostly because google isn't the small underdog anymore. Nobody likes a leader.

    "How dare google make better offers for top quality programmers! Who am I gonna hire at 10$ an hour with no overtime for 80 hours a week?!? Google is Evil!"
  • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:39PM (#13390145)
    Come on, the only people that are thinking Google is evil are other companies that have to compete with them. Look at the oddidty of this paragraph:

    Google is doing more damage to innovation in the Valley right now than Microsoft ever did," said Reid Hoffman, the founder of two Internet ventures, including LinkedIn, a business networking Web site popular among Silicon Valley's digerati. "It's largely that they're hiring up so many talented people, and the fact they're working on so many different things. It's harder for start-ups to do interesting stuff right now.

    I see, they are damaging innovation through creating so many products.

    What?

    What he really means is "I can't get top engineers so I can't innovate as much". But that doesn't mean innovation is not occuring. And how are we to be sure innovation at that company would have been as skillfully executed or as good for the industry as it might be at Google.

    People complain about Google "hoarding" good engineers. But programmers are not slaves, to be bought as sold as property. Each person makes a choice and it just so happens people want to work at Google. If other companies want to hire the same calibur of people they either need to figure out how to attract programmers OR get the heck out of Dodge and go to a market where obtaining labour might be easier.

    If only the heads of whiny companies consider Google evil, then I would say that slightly improves Googles rep with me. So far Google's behaviour has been far better than most other companies - and after all, Evil is as Evil Does. As long as Google continues to compete through excellence then I have no issue with them.
    • by Steve B (42864) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:04PM (#13390402)
      What he really means is "I can't get top engineers for the salary I want to pay so I can't innovate as much and still enjoy as many perks for myself".
    • by malkavian (9512) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:05PM (#13390409) Homepage
      What he really means is "I can't get top engineers so I can't innovate as much".

      Couldn't agree more.. Except I think he really means "I probably could get the engineers, except I don't want to pay them what Google does, and I'm not willing to match the working conditions whereby they have proven to be effective and creative.".

      For some reason people seem to believe that the only people worth looking at are the 'names in lights'. Years ago, companies used to take people on, train them, educate them over years in apprenticeships until they fulfilled their full talents. Then they were looked after while they spent years producing works of art, and the company made back what they invested in the apprenticeship period.

      For some reason, they now believe that highly skilled and trained people suddenly grow on trees, and should be available as and when they want them, whether colleges train them or not, or whether activities such as outsourcing mean that people just don't want to put their time into training for a job where they believe they'll spend two years designing something innovative, then have the foot work of incremental changes and maintenance shipped abroad while they get laid off until some company decides they need a highly trained innovative person for a while.

      Perhaps this is a long awaited wakeup call.

    • by Mark Bainter (2222) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:33PM (#13390703)
      Come on, the only people that are thinking Google is evil are other companies that have to compete with them.

      I am not a company. Neither I nor my company compete with them. (Yet. I'm sure it's only a matter of time.) Yet I am wary and suspect them of being evil.

      Consider their current power. They are the> primary search point online. People don't say "search for it" anymore, they say 'google it'. If it's not on google, for many people it doesn't exist. So if they want to control access to information, to a limited extent they are fully capable of doing so.

      They have Gigabytes worth of private email at their fingertips. Sure, they say they won't ever publish or publicly index it. Now we have the same for IM.

      Google desktop is supposedly secure. Yet what is our guarantee? Have any of you seen the source code? Even if it is now, can you guarantee that'll always be the case?

      Companies change, owners change. As they continue to absorb large quantities of internet functionality and do it well the risk of them being corrupted by what they've accomplished becomes greater.

      "Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end...liberty is the only object which benefits all alike, and provokes no sincere opposition...The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to to govern. Every class is unfit to govern...Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." --Lord Acton
      Obviously, from a different context, but it is an appropriate exposition on the nature of power generally and its effect upon people. While Google's power is limited by its being a corporation, and not a government, it is still something we should at least be aware of. I do not advocate some sort of wholesale rejection of google, they've done nothing to warrant that. Yet I certainly think caution and awareness are called for.
  • by AndreyF (701606) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:40PM (#13390158)
    ...you type the URL into Google. Irony at it's best. :)
  • ironic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by museumpeace (735109) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:40PM (#13390168) Journal
    that a wildly successful software company that only went public a year or so ago is scaring venture $ away from start-ups...what the heck was Google until 2 years ago if not a start-up?
  • by eno2001 (527078) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:40PM (#13390169) Homepage Journal
    ...because we can't let the worthless peons below "suit" level make more money, god forbid. Sorry, but coders do the REAL work(tm) and should be making at least 75-90% of what execs currently do. Whereas execs should be making about 60-75% of their current pay.
    • by StandardDeviant (122674) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:16PM (#13390527) Homepage Journal

      If you think being an executive is easy, I seriously recommend you take a few accounting classes just as a starter. There's just as much complexity in C-level jobs as there are below, if not moreso, but it is complexity in different areas that are all too easy for gearheads to airly dismiss as trivial (just like it is all to easy for managers to dismiss our jobs as being Simple Matters of Programming). Complexity that if not handled well can completely sink the company, putting everyone on the street and potentially the executive in jail. Sure, large companies have people dedicated underneath the C-level people to the "dangerously complex" tasks like accounting, but your average startup CEO wears not just more than one hat, but pretty much EVERY hat.

      Yes, executives make a lot of money. But they do that because of the risks and responsibilities they have. Imagine, for a second, that you're the CEO of Dell or Microsoft or IBM... Nice life, right? Now imagine looking out of your office and every person you see is able to feed their families because of your continued track record of not screwing up, and that companies you couldn't even name are also depending on you to not screw up. Bit more pressure, eh?

      I've got a simple standard regarding listening to somebody's economic opinions: has the person ever held a job with a regular paycheck and had to pay rent/buy food/pay bills every month? If not, their opinions are borderline worthless. The same standard writ large applies to corporate management: if you haven't had to meet payroll every month, your opinions about the tasks and difficulty involved with running a company are basically shit.

      Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of dumb managers and executives out there. I've worked for and hated several of them. But to blanket assert that the tasks of a worker bee equal or exceed the risks and responsibilities of an executive's is just absurd.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:42PM (#13390178) Homepage
    I personally get sick of hearing industry whiners bitch about tech employees being paid what they are worth. Guess what, the industry has been typically underpaying by 25% over the past few years. Google has been simply offering competitive wages to attract the caliber of workers they desire.

    and the B.S. about it hurting startups is insane. No startups worth a damn started by hiring expensive people... you do not create a business by spending money like mad, that is something everyone learned from the 90's. Every sucessful startup started with self made people with others they knew or could talk into starting a business with them.

    • Industry vs Google (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nuggz (69912)
      I don't think they were underpaid by the industry.

      I just think that these people are worth 25% more to google than they were to other companies.

      If you work for my company you will make me $100k, I might say it is worthwhile for me to pay you $75k.
      However if a competator will make $150k from you, he could quite rightly pay you $110k.

      I wasn't underpaying you, the job market has just changed. This is competition, and it's a step up.

      Basically the market gets 50% more value from the same resource (you). In the e
    • by Anthony Boyd (242971) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @03:40PM (#13391893) Homepage
      and the B.S. about it hurting startups is insane. No startups worth a damn started by hiring expensive people...

      Tim, I'm going to use your post as a starting point for my post, but please don't consider this a rebuttal to your post.

      Google isn't quite in my neighborhood, but close by. I know people working there, and I currently do contract work for a start-up populated by ex-Google and ex-Borland employees. As you might guess, the truth is more boring and less extreme than people are making it sound.

      Google is cornering the market in a very limited sense -- they hire PhD's who can survive multiple rounds of interviews and tests. In other words, they're hiring exceptionally smart, high-end scholars who can survive a brutal vetting process. As you might guess, there are NOT a lot people like this. For Google to grow, it has to suck that niche dry.

      This does affect start-ups. How? Well, most start-ups employ a few of these geniuses to help give them an edge and establish some technical leadership. When each company had a handful of PhD-level employees, everything was spread out evenly. Now that Google has pulled hundreds of them in, it is NOT spread out. A start-up looking to appear experienced, or to have some token high-end leadership figures, is hard-pressed. And that impacts the VC dollars coming in. That's a real problem.

      Having said that, I'm contracting for a start-up that shares a building with the Mozilla team. Guess what? The start-up is fine. There are plenty. They may not all have evil geniuses as figureheads right now, but they're plugging along.

      Even more than that, Google has left the MA/BA/MS/BS-level employees alone. Or at least, it hasn't made a dent. If you have a Batchelor's degree in Silicon Valley and you want a job, you're going to have to pursue it just as hard as in the rest of the country. The economy is slowly turning around, but it really is slow. Companies are not fighting over average joes, as they did during the Internet boom. It's still a bust, people still fight for jobs, and salaries are NOT sky-high.

      So yes, Google is having an impact. But no, it is not affecting most engineers. Yes, other business leaders are complaining. No, their sentiment isn't shared by the rest of the local community.

  • by wackysootroom (243310) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:44PM (#13390194)
    It's not the attitude of Microsoft that makes them evil, it's the business practices. Google does not do the same thing as MS when it comes to business.

    The attitude of Google reminds me a lot of the early days of Apple Computer. Out to win big - yes, but villian - no. At least not yet.
  • PR at it's finest (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Psionicist (561330) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:44PM (#13390197)

    Paul Graham has an essay about this: The Submarine [paulgraham.com].

    "Suits make a corporate comeback," says the New York Times. Why does this sound familiar? Maybe because the suit was also back in February, September 2004, June 2004, March 2004, September 2003, November 2002, April 2002, and February 2002.

    Why do the media keep running stories saying suits are back? Because PR firms tell them to. One of the most surprising things I discovered during my brief business career was the existence of the PR industry, lurking like a huge, quiet submarine beneath the news. Of the stories you read in traditional media that aren't about politics, crimes, or disasters, more than half probably come from PR firms.


    We have seen this before with anti-Linux campaigns. Nothing new.
  • by panxerox (575545) * on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:46PM (#13390211)
    1. Copy story location.
    2. Paste into google search
    3. click on link that appears on the google search page.
    4. ???
    5. Profit
  • Better story link? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Animats (122034) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:46PM (#13390212) Homepage
    Is a better link to the story available? The NYT web site goes into a redirection loop if you have cookies disabled or are behind a firewall that stops cookies.
  • by geekwithsoul (860466) <geekwithsoul@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:46PM (#13390216)
    Compete or die!

    The difference between how this applies to Microsoft and Google is in the end products and services each produces. Google's place in the market is the result of quality applications, a building of a trust relationship with its users, and a eye towards putting out the best software and services it can.

    Microsoft on the other hand owes its place in the market to luck, the laissez-faire attitude of govt. during the early days of its development, and a focus on corporate marketing double-speak that focuses on the "message" rather than the quality of their products.

    Google may be evolving into a corporate giant, but that doesn't equate with them being evil. They are far more similar to early Apple, but with better leadership.
  • Boo, fucking, hoo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by melted (227442) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:47PM (#13390217) Homepage
    As an engineer, I want more companies to be evil like that. I wouldn't mind a 25% raise and working environment that doesn't get in the way of what I'm capable of.
  • by snowwrestler (896305) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:47PM (#13390218)
    "When I meet with venture capitalists, or if I'm engaged in a conversation about going into partnership with someone, inevitably the question is, 'Why couldn't Google do what you're doing?' " said Craig Donato, the founder and chief executive of Oodle, a site for searching online classified listings more quickly.

    Geez, I wonder why the VC's always think of Google during our presentation for a search company named Oodle??
    • Oodle has no clue (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Animats (122034)
      Oodle [oodle.com] has a home page that looks like one of those stupid search pages that domain speculators dump traffic onto. This for a search engine that only searches ads. Ads for which they do not get paid. So they have to sell more ads to finance the searching of the ads.

      I don't think we have a winner here.

  • Terrorists! (Score:4, Funny)

    by lo_fye (303245) <derek@geekuniERDOSty.com minus math_god> on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:47PM (#13390223) Homepage Journal
    Google is a terrorist organization. Their plot is to systematically (subversively) destroy the IT Sector by employing all the best talent. They'll have a *monopoly* on intellect! You want smarts? You gotta pay da Google. You'll never be able to pry the Scientists from their clutches... They hypnotically keep them there by way of shiny trinkets, coin, and free gourmet meals... No one can escape. We're all going to have dumb workers. We'll never succeed. Google must be stopped! They hate our freedom!
  • So let's see here... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rewt66 (738525) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:47PM (#13390224)
    Google is evil because it hires a lot of people for good money, attracts investment, and is successful.

    Why do we consider Microsoft evil? Is it equivalent to Google's evil? Well, no, it isn't. Stealing ideas, actively trying to destroy competition, lying in court, producing half-working crap and using a monopoly to force it down everybody's throat... is that morally equivalent to what Google is doing?

    Didn't think so.
  • Since when... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChrisF79 (829953) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:47PM (#13390225) Homepage
    Since when does success = villain?

    It is pretty frustrating to see people constantly complain about large, successful companies. What the article fails to mention is that Google likely hires the best of the best. So I would guess that the talent level of the employees dictates the pay, instead of the company name dictating the pay. Make sense?
  • by StreetFire.net (850652) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:48PM (#13390236) Homepage
    The issue here in my opinion, is that Google is leveraging it's advertising revenue model and it's vast economies of scale in hosting costs to corner the web application market. This is the play that Microsoft should fear and I think that has allready been adressed.

    The problem is that their efforts do stiffle web entrepenuers who are trying to break into new areas such as hosted groupeware for email, file, photo and video sharing etc. (I know this from personal experience). Keep in mind that not all web application developers are looking for a "good Salary" from a benign giant like Google. Some of us actually want to be masters of our fate and make a living on our own. But now the real fear is "Will Google invade my market and make a free version of my Widget?"

    That's becoming more real every day. I can't buy bandwidth at the same cost as Google, and I can't leverage massive Advertising revenues to give away my products for free either.

    "Do no evil" doesn't mean "don't crush small start-ups".

    -Adam
  • by G4from128k (686170) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:52PM (#13390274)
    If Google is draining talent, forcing pay raises and making it hard for start-ups, then it only means that the system is working. Money (and people) go where they are appreciated in a free, capitalist economy. If the start-ups have a better (more valuable) idea than Google's then they should be able to convince both prospective employees and VCs that they start-up is worth it.

    Although economies aren't zero-sum games (many activities do grow the pie, or raise the tide that floats all boats), some aspects do have a win-lose component to them. Successful companies can afford (and should afford) to pay their workers more than unsuccessful ones. This means that successful companies will inevitably harm less successful companies by "draining" the labor pool and seem "evil."

    If Google is evil it is because change is evil (to some) and because competition (for money, workers, customers, etc.) can be evil -- at least in the eyes of the less successful.

    Disclaimer: I'm not a Google shareholder (their stock seems very overpriced relative to the long-term risks of Google's business model and the high expected earning built into the current stock price), but they do seem to be very successful.
  • by marlinSpike (894812) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:53PM (#13390293)
    Google becomes ubiquitous is a good thing, it seems, for consumers. However, I think there's a real danger that it has too much information that can be construed as personal and valuable on millions of individuals. While I appreciate the "do no evil" mentality that has diven Google so far, the lure of "evil" and better returns are what drive shareholders, and Google after all, is a public company. On another note, one has to be amazed at the way in which Google's unique take on technology and on familar things like web search (Google Suggest), GMail, Google Talk and Google Earth, have allowed it to quickly supplant the leaders in every sphere it steps into. It's quite remarkable, and telling of the culture that thrives in the company. I fear however, that after conquering just about every communication medium (IM, Email, Web Search, VoIP, and rumor has it, free WiFi), stepping out of Google will be as hard as it is to step away from Micro$oft. What is it they say -- too much of something good can't be too good for you after all. In this case, a ubiquitous publicly traded company that features in so many forms of communication exchange, can't possibly resist the temptation to exploit that monopoly... or can it?
  • by zoomba (227393) <mfc131.gmail@com> on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:54PM (#13390303) Homepage
    Silicon Valley is a lot like a University campus. A lot of really smart people with a ton of brilliant ideas on how to make the world better, but often lacking in the common sense or business saavy to translate the idea into something real.

    Companies in Silicon Valley are a dime a dozen anymore. There's always some kid sitting in an apartment dreaming up The Next Big Thing. Some of them do come up with great stuff, but for whatever reason they just never get to the point where they're selling or distributing what they dreamed up. Those that do often do it on a limited basis because they lack the resources to go bigger. Those who really are onto something neat get bought out.

    Google is hated by these guys now for the same reason academics look down their noses at their equivalents in the professional world. Because Google successful in ways others could only dream of. It's jealousy really. They claim it's because Google has lost its small-company spirit, that it's no longer doing what they do for the pure reasons of doing "cool" stuff or whatever. Google has taken the spirit and the drive of so many startups and they actually went somewhere with it.

    We tend to hate, or at least target, those who do better than us.
  • Right... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xenomouse (904937) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @12:55PM (#13390315)
    To place Google in context, Mr. Kraus offered a brief history lesson. In the 1990's, he said, I.B.M. was widely perceived in Silicon Valley as a "gentle giant" that was easy to partner with while Microsoft was perceived as an "extraordinarily fearsome, competitive company wanting to be in as many businesses as possible and with the engineering talent capable of implementing effectively anything."

    Now, in the view of Mr. Kraus, "Microsoft is becoming I.B.M. and Google is becoming Microsoft." Mr. Kraus is the chief executive and a founder of JotSpot, a Silicon Valley start-up hoping to sell blogging and other self-publishing tools to corporations.


    Step 1: Create start-up to compete against Google.
    Step 2: Compare Google to MicroSoft in NYT.
    Step 3: ???
    Step 4: Keep fingers crossed?

    "Google is doing more damage to innovation in the Valley right now than Microsoft ever did," said Reid Hoffman, the founder of two Internet ventures, including LinkedIn, a business networking Web site popular among Silicon Valley's digerati. "It's largely that they're hiring up so many talented people, and the fact they're working on so many different things. It's harder for start-ups to do interesting stuff right now."

    "When I meet with venture capitalists, or if I'm engaged in a conversation about going into partnership with someone, inevitably the question is, 'Why couldn't Google do what you're doing?' " said Craig Donato, the founder and chief executive of Oodle, a site for searching online classified listings more quickly.

    "The answer is, 'They could, and they're probably thinking about it, but they can't do everything and do it well,' " Mr. Donato said. "Or at least I'm hoping they can't."


    So, Google is evil and is hurting innovation because they have so many smart people working on so many projects that there's nothing else to work on?

    It sounds more like Google is raising the bar rather than killing innovation. The bubble burst, ladies and gentlemen. You can't get new money for old ideas anymore. Get over it.
  • by SpinyNorman (33776) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:02PM (#13390373)
    Funny all these companies whining about having to compete with Google for top talent, and pay competetive salaries... You'd have thought they could just outsource, or are they maybe actually concerned about the *quality* of the people that Google is hiring, not the cost?
    • by FreshFunk510 (526493) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:48PM (#13390863)
      EXACTLY!! This is what really bothered me about the article:

      "Google is doing more damage to innovation in the Valley right now than Microsoft ever did," said Reid Hoffman, the founder of two Internet ventures, ... "It's largely that they're hiring up so many talented people,...."

      Google, Mr. Hoffman said, has caused "across the board a 25 to 50 percent salary inflation for engineers in Silicon Valley" - or at least those in a position to weigh competing offers.
      What a freaking load. He's basically saying that Google is paying good engineers well and they can't compete because they don't want to pay well. Welcome to capitalism! You know.. it's that whole supply and demand thing. These guys want to have their cake and eat it too.

      We're the same engineers that experienced a high drop in salary after the dot-com bust when there was a large glut of engineers. This guy makes it sound like its Google's responsibility to keep wages low and not hire the best talent they can.
  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:05PM (#13390413) Homepage Journal
    Google has a bit of a natural monopoly since the more people who use a search engine the more valuable the search engine becomes via features like AdWords as well as more rational page ranking. As long as a search engine has the most users all it has to do is be a collaborative search engine and not be stupid about the load leveling algorithms across its servers.

    Microsoft, on the other hand, can pretty much hold the whole computer industry hostage by virtue of having the most deployed systems hence anyone who wants to buy or write software for a computer has to obtain the MS OS to transact business. This is worse than the classic "utility" type natural monopoly -- the better analogy would be if someone owned a perpetual patent on 60Hz AC.

  • by v3lut (123906) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:05PM (#13390416) Homepage
    I remember when Yahoo! was The Cool Company. They offered arseloads of free applications, the applications were nifty, cool, hip and where-it's-at.

    Then somewhere along the line, the free email accounts and home pages got so choked with ads and bloat that I couldn't stand using them anymore.

    I like Google's stuff. Lots. I've just got this nagging feeling that I've been here before, and I hope I'm wrong.
  • by bigtallmofo (695287) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:08PM (#13390436)
    As far as I can tell, Google's business plan is similar to all the dot-com bubble stories:

    1. Get funding through at least one huge IPO
    2. Hire all the top talent you can find
    3. Give away your products for free, relying on advertising
    4. You can figure this one out yourself

    So for everyone sarcastically crying how Google is "so evil" because they're doing this, think about it for a second. How fair is it if you have a long-term business strategy to be run out of business by an upstart that is little more than a flash in the pan? For as good as Google is (and they are good), history shows their business model not to last the long haul.
  • by MAXOMENOS (9802) <maxomai@gmaEINST ... minus physicist> on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:09PM (#13390443) Homepage
    Maybe the problem with those startups is that they're trying to get started in the wrong place.

    There's a glut of talent in a lot of cities up and down the Coast. How about doing a start-up in Oregon or Nevada instead of the Bay? I'll bet you the salaries are way cheaper, too.

  • by scottennis (225462) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:09PM (#13390448) Homepage
    It seems like there's another story every day about something new Google is trying. Today it's IM. (That's innovative?)

    It seems like forever ago that I signed up for a gmail account and it is still in beta. I can't even get to my gmail account on my PDA (probably my fault, but I don't have any problems with Yahoo!)

    As an independent publisher I was also excited to take part in their Google Print program (also still in beta). But its been over two months since I uploaded my PDF files (they didn't even have to scan my books) and they are still listed in "pending" status.

    Okay, so that's my grousing for the day. Anyone else have similar experiences with Google's lack of follow-through?
  • by alispguru (72689) <baneNO@SPAMgst.com> on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:09PM (#13390449) Journal
    ... if you have both the technical chops and the commercial success to back it up, which Google does, especially compared to other big players who are called arrogant.

    Research labs like Xerox PARC back in the day were viewed as arrogant, in large part because of their technical success and lack of business success - "if you're so smart, home come you're not rich?"

    Microsoft is viewed as arrogant because they're wildly successful commercially, but their technology is middle-of-the-road at best - from a purely geek point of view they don't deserve their success.

    Google is an almost unheard-of beast that does truly technically innovative things and profits by doing so.
  • by Jodka (520060) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:35PM (#13390729)
    Some of the reasons, fair or not, for why Microsoft has earned a reputation for evil:

    - Maintaining market dominance using closed standards. For example, the Microsoft Word file format.
    - Embrace-and-extend. Adopting an open format, then corrupting the standard by deviating from the specification. For example Java and Kerberos.
    - LONG latency in security patches and too many exploits.
    - Devious scheming against competitors: the Halloween documents.

    Well I could go on, but there is probably no need for that here... coals to Newcastle.

    Some reasons why Google is earning a reputation for Evil:

    - They have attracted many customers by providing a superior product.
    - They attract star employees by providing better working conditions.

    Others have made the point and I agree, Google hatred bowls down to jealousy, envy and anti-capitalism. The success of Google, much like the success of Apple's iPod, owes primarily to the superiority of the product, not to evil corporate machinations. They are winning market share fairly. Good for them. Good for their employees. Good for their investors. Good for their customers. GENUINE innovation makes everyone better off, except for those competing against it.

  • by HerculesMO (693085) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:40PM (#13390788)
    Google is guilty of one thing really, and it's respective to what Microsoft had going for it in the very beginning (ala DOS), in that it has a bunch of clever ideas, and they are implemented well. The thing with Microsoft is that they are now in a position to literally, stop business from functioning in certain parts of the world by implementing changes they deem 'necessary'.

    What if Microsoft stopped patching Windows XP? I mean, if there's a vulnerability to Windows, and a BIG one that cripples businesses and users worldwide... Things in this world would HALT. Financial institutions that rely heavily on Excel would not trade. Banks that use SQL Server couldn't make transactions. Of course, this is a very 'doomsday' scenario, but it also can portray the stranglehold Microsoft has on the current business world.

    Google on the other hand well... they don't have that kind of power. The resentment in the article comes from different Silicon Valley 'players'. One that I found amusing was the PayPal founder -- and the article later mentioned there may be a PayPal rival in the works. I wonder why he's bitter against Google?

    Others complain about the talent Google is 'stealing'. Another post mentioned this but I feel it's worth reiterating -- you pay people what you feel they are worth. Trust me as much as I'd like to work for Google, if they don't pay me more than I make now... I don't think I'd make the move. There is a huge bonus to Google because of the way they treat their employees -- and people worldwide know it, and they want to be a part of the community that ENJOYS their jobs. If you work at a bank as a programmer, where you have to wear a dress shirt and tie, arrive promptly and work extra hours with no appreciation, then the wunder-stories of employees at Google are extremely appealing. If you are mad about not getting that 'talent' that Google is 'stealing' then start changing your work environment. Make employees ENJOY their work, give them freedoms -- it's software development after all! And yea, PAY THEM MORE! I find it amazing that computer programmers who LITERALLY have to study longer and harder than DOCTORS (due to the ever-changing atmosphere of technology, new languages, methods etc), get paid so little so many places in this country. When a computer programmer makes less than a garbageman it's indicative of a larger problem. So fix that problem you complainers -- don't blame Google because they saw past the problem and offered a solution.

    I won't say Google is full of angels, but by in large when they express the "Do no evil" philosphy, they are pretty close to following up on it. They release an IM client, and show you, ON THEIR SITE, how to make it work with other 3rd party clients like Trillian or iChat. They release a web based email with a lot of free space, and to no addition revenue, offer free POP3 service for it. They release Google Earth free of advertising. They buy Picasa, update it, and release it better and ad free, even better (imho) than the Photoshop Gallery software or anything else. They release plugins for Internet Explorer, and follow by releasing similar plugins for Firefox. They create AJAX and allow royalty free use of it.

    Evil huh? There may be examples of how Google is being 'evil', but at this point it's as laughable as the character with the same name in an Austin Powers movie.
  • by Daytona955i (448665) <flynnguy24@yahoo . c om> on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @01:48PM (#13390858)
    When Google first appeared on the search engine scene, Yahoo was fat and lazy as king. Google was the young, hip, energetic younger kid. Plus it used Linux!!! Google really brought linux into the limelight showing that it could take center stage and work. Google took advantage of this new found popularity and started hiring as many talented people as they could. Then Google started pressing the line and pissing off some people...

    Since then, google seems to be positioning themselves to be the sole internet portal where everything will go through them, web searches, email, IM, your map searches. I mean, if google wanted to, it could know more about you than I think it should.

    So far, their policy has been "do no evil." I for one hope that remains the case. Right now, my only real gripe is their lack of giving back to the open source community. They used linux to build their empire but give very little back to it other than being able to use it as an example of what linux can do. Ok, that's useful, but given how large they are, I think they could actually spend some resources to give back to the community.

    But wait, they are using jabber for their IM servers. Well yes, I could use any IM client that uses jabber to connect to them, I think using an open standard like that is great, except you can't use the voice features that way, you have to use their program which isn't open source and currently only available for windows. So basically they are using an open source product to create a closed source program. Sure it's free, but that doesn't help me, the linux or mac user at all.

    So unless you use windows, you can't use their IM client, you can't use google earth and I still haven't seen them release any source code. Is this evil of them? No, I don't think using open source products makes them evil, I think it's good in a way but I certainly wont consider them a friend until I'm running google earth on my linux box while talking to my friends over GIM.
  • by Blitzenn (554788) * on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @02:32PM (#13391286) Homepage Journal
    So causing the average wage to increase, which fell through the floor after the dot com crash is a bad thing? I personally would enjoy getting paid more again.

    Hiring up a boat load of talent to cause a tech labor shortage is a bad thing too? I think there are a lot of unemployed and underemployed techies out there who would benefit greatly by this.

    The perspective here seems to be from a corporate standpoint, one that doesn't want to pay it's people any more money and wants to be able to replace them easily at a whim. I would hardly call Google evil for that.
  • by Millard Fillmore (197731) on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @02:47PM (#13391443) Homepage Journal
    The article is about Google's reputation among venture capitalists and technologists in Silicon Valley, and I do not think it's fair to extend this comparison to Microsoft into the realm of user exeperience.

    Microsoft's products in the 1990's were essentially bloated foistware. Their software implemented critical functionality poorly and was outpeformed by other products, but they used marketing tactics bordering on extortion to ensure that they picked up a monopoly on end user operating systems. And they still made us pay for their crappy software.

    Google's products in the 2000s are available for free. They compete with other free products for market share, and therefore are differentiated by performance and functionality.

    In my opinion, Google is leading the way in good technology implementations, and they deserve to have an industry-leading position. Where they need to be careful is to remain competitive, and not stray into the realm of anticompetitive behavior.

    My guess is that they are going to launch some initiatives in nontraditional (for them) categories of business, and maybe one or two will have some success. The rest will fizzle out because the company will not be able to translate its success on the internet to success in other media avenues. If they are smart about how much capital they risk on these projects, they will learn their lesson, and still keep the top spot in the internet-based free services.
  • by samdu (114873) <samdu AT ronintech DOT com> on Wednesday August 24, 2005 @04:27PM (#13392283) Homepage
    Microsoft has repeatedly been caught commiting intentional, illegal, anti-competitive acts. All of the "evil" attributed to Google has simply been side-effects of being a successful business. The two are not even remotely comparable.

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