Google Will Stop Offering Free Lunches
Make no mistake, 2009 will be a challenging year for Google. The Internet giant has already watched its stock price get sliced in half
since its peak, and has instituted a variety of cutbacks
, including laying off thousands of contractors
around the world. Instead of holiday cash bonuses of up to $20,000 as in years past, Google workers got Android G1 smartphones
-- nice, but cash is nicer.
Not surprisingly, once a high-flying company begins to run into some turbulence, jealous observers are quick to pounce. And plenty of people are saying that Google's days of being a different kind of company are over. That they're going to have to give up all those fancy perks, including the free haute cuisine
offered to Googlers at all hours of the day and night.
Not so fast. Google still dominates online advertising, especially search-based advertising. And most people think that search ads will weather a general ad slowdown better than other areas. While growth may slowed, Google is still growing and profitable, so even it has to cut back on the foie gras
, it can still afford to dish out plenty of endive and tofu.
More important, there's a reason for the company's culinary largess. Google has no real assets other than the smarts of its people. With the lure of vast stock-option riches on hold for the duration, the company has to find other ways of keeping key Googlers
happy, productive, and away from competitors like Microsoft.
Your read it here first: The way to an employee's heart is through his stomach, so Google's plight will have to get a lot
worse before they say "Last Call" on the free lunches.
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