Shared publicly  - 
 
I've tried writing another Amazon War Story a couple of times, but so far no luck. It's not Writer's Block. I can write plenty. This time my problem is Writer's Crap. So today I'll try something different, and write about working at Google.

The main problem with writing about Google is that nobody will believe you.

My friend +Dominic Cooney and I were talking about it one time. I told him I felt this secret guilt every time I went to work, because everyone was so smart and they treat you so well. I told him I truly felt like I didn't deserve it.

Dominic said he knew what I meant, and that every day at Google he felt like he'd won the lottery.

It's crazy. This guy is hands-down one of the smartest people I've ever worked with in my life, and he told me that working at Google felt like winning the lottery. How many of you can honestly say that about your job? I mean, sure, Amazon felt like that to me sometimes, but it was more like Shirley Jackson's lottery.

I've been wanting to write up how it really is here, but it's too much. It's like trying to introduce you to warm chocolate cake by forcing you to swim through a lake of it. I remember once my brother Dave and I bought the biggest pieces of chocolate we could find in Ghirardelli's Square in San Francisco, and we ate chocolate until we couldn't choke any more down. The next morning I woke up to Dave waving a hunk of chocolate in front of my nose, saying: "Want some choooooocolate?" and I almost puked.

It's kind of like that. My challenge is to find a way to describe Google to you without making you puke.

Speaking of Ghirardelli's Square, my Amazon pager went off while I was there once, on vacation, and I had to dial in to a conference call about a site outage while I was eating my ice cream. My challenge with Amazon is finding a way to describe it without making me puke. But I'll figure something out, eventually. In many ways they're a world-class operation -- primarily in ways that matter to their customers; employees, not so much. But I guess in the end it's the customers that matter.

Anyway, until I figure that one out, I guess I'll write about Google.

Google has offices all over the world, dozens of them, and I've only been to a few. So I'll tell you about Google Kirkland, where I work. It's a pretty average office in terms of size, location and perks. But it's what I know best.

Here's what it's like in Google Kirkland. At least, here's a little piece of it, on a little plate with a white napkin and a silver fork. Enjoy.

Food

At Google there's a lot of food. Everyone at other companies just shrugs it off as "free food", which is sort of like shrugging off Google's giant yearly bonuses as "occasional tips". In our three little buildings here we have three cafeterias, at least six or eight kitchen areas filled with free snacks, two espresso cafes staffed with barristas, a 1950s-style dessert bar, a frozen yogurt machine with a self-serve toppings bar, probably a dozen fridges filled with free drinks, a weekly Farmer's Market all summer where you can take home huge bags of locally-grown veggies, and every Friday afternoon, long tables of themed hors d'oeuvres and beer and wine while we watch TGIF. Am I forgetting anything? I'm sure I am.

And the food is good. One of our chefs was the Executive Chef at the Earth and Ocean restaurant in the W hotel in downtown Seattle, and the other one had equally impressive credentials. The cafe in my building, Sudo Cafe, has a DIY burger bar, daily entree selections, a pizza bar, a sandwich bar and panini press, a rotisserie, a salad bar, a fruit bar, two daily soup selections, a vegetarian and vegan selection, and random bowls of fruit and cakes and all sorts of other stuff lying around to tempt you. To me it feels like Ofelia's second task in Pan's Labyrinth, except look ma, no monster.

There are three meals a day, five days a week, all you can eat for free. You can even bring guests to lunch. The salad and sandwich and espresso bars stay open between meals, and the micro-kitchens are open 24x7. And for those who wonder whether it's OK to take some food home once in a while, there are take-out containers sitting right next to the plates.

Amusingly, every other Google office I've ever been to had better food than we do. The old NYC office had an olive bar that was longer than the one at Whole Foods. The Seattle office has microbrews on tap. The Mountain View main campus has more than forty cafes and restaurants. Kirkland's food has been catching up fast in the past year or two, but the bar is insanely high.

Why all the free gourmet food? I don't know. Maybe they're planning to cook us and eat us. That's the most plausible explanation we've been able to think of. That, and the fact that we're never tempted to leave the campus at lunchtime or afternoon-tea time, so we all wind up working at least an extra half an hour a day. But that can't possibly be a sufficient return on investment for Google, not by a long shot.

I think the real explanation is that they do it because that's part of how you create an environment that attracts the smartest people in the world. I'm not in that category, but for a while I was gunning for fattest person in the world, so they managed to attract me too.

Facilities

There's free underground parking, but there aren't quite enough spots. So they have a free valet service. The valets park your car and bring your keys up to your office later in the day. (Amazon never had free parking. As far as I know, they still don't.)

The decor at Google is colorful and makes the whole place feel more fun. I know it doesn't seem like a big deal. Who cares about the decor, right? But I've worked in typical cube-farm companies, and there's something magical about Google's decor. I've been to Microsoft a few times, too. Their decor is opulent and fancy, like going to the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. Google's decor is more like walking into an FAO Schwarz toy store.

The cafe in our newest building has a nautical theme. It has hardwood floors the color of a boat deck, and big rope spools turned sideways into tables, and portholes that look through a hallway decorated with ship-deck furniture onto a huge wall mural of downtown Seattle. Oh, and there are boats. I gave my brother Mike and his friend Jay a tour of the place over the weekend, and Jay was trying really hard not to be impressed. He started to crack when he saw the gym, but it was the boats that finally got him.

"How did they get them IN here?" was Mike's question. Mike's got his own construction company and has worked with heavy equipment, and all he could do was marvel at these big frigging boats on the second floor. They're these, I dunno, roofed gondola-looking boats with leather bench-seats. They're there so you can have an impromptu meeting on a boat, or work on your laptop on a boat, or just hang out on a boat and have some espresso and soak up that nice boat feeling, I guess.

Downstairs one of the video-conference rooms has comfy leather chairs and wall-to-wall murals of farmland scenery, and a stable with a bunch of hay and a couple of horses. Yep, you heard that right. They startle the crap out of people the first time they go in there. Couple o' great big stuffed horses like you might find at, say, FAO Schwarz.

I mean, don't get me wrong here. Amazon had some decor too. And by "some decor", I mean a Cave Bear. One day a Cave Bear skeleton showed up, standing a good ten or twelve feet high, complete with an anatomically-correct dick-bone attached to its pelvic region with a movable steel wire. It became a sort of ad-hoc weathervane for employee morale.

Just as with the food, I could go on for chapters about the facilities and probably never finish, because they keep adding new stuff. There's a climbing wall, and pool tables, and foosball tables, and a bunch of $5000 fancy massage chairs with incomprehensible Japanese instructions. Man they feel nice though. There's a super nice 24-hour gym, and lush real plants everywhere, and a doctor's office with a full-time Google doctor, and a haircut place where the Corporate Cuts lady comes by a few times a week.

Oh, and there's a massage salon with three or four licensed massage therapists. That's a Google tradition. Ours is subsidized down to practically no cost for an hour-long table massage. And there are prayer rooms, and a basketball court, and a dog park with Google-colored fire hydrants to pee on, and breast-feeding rooms for new moms, and electric-car spots, and a red British phone booth that I assume is for changing into superhero costumes, and gigantic oversized lava lamps, and comfy couches around roaring fireplaces, and a photo booth, and a bike cage with a tool bench and an air compressor, and hammocks and bean-bag chairs, and a room-length shuffleboard table, and three or four game rooms with air hockey and ping-pong and XBoxes and Wiis and arcade games with thousands of titles, and on and ON and ON.

I mean, damn. You thought I was exaggerating when I told you nobody would believe me, didn't you?

And sadly I can't even tell you about the two new coolest things they're opening here, because they won't officially launch until next week. But it's always like that. I've been putting this post off for years because there's always some new thing in the works that I want to wait for before I tell you about it all.

Amazing True Story: One day I started getting jealous of this digital piano that people were playing every day. So I sent a nice email to someone in facilities asking if there was any chance we might be able to get a guitar. She said it sounded like a good idea and she promised to look into it.

A month went by, and I started to get a little sad, because I thought they were just not interested. But I sent her a little email and asked if there was any update. Just hoping, you know, against hope.

She told me: "Oh yeah, I'm sorry -- I forgot to tell you. We talked it over with the directors, and we all decided the best thing to do was to build a music studio."

So now we have Soundgarden over in Building A. It has two rooms: one with soundproofing and two electric guitars and a bass and a keyboard and a drum set and a jam hub and amps and all kinds of other crap that I can't identify except to say that it's really popular. The other room has a ukulele and some sort of musical drum and a jazz guitar and some other classical instruments.

Remember back in the first paragraph of my infamous rant, where I made the bizarre claim that "Amazon does everything wrong, and Google does everything right?" It's a pretty complex claim to try to explain, but I feel like the "Ask for a guitar, get a music studio" story is one of the best metaphors for how the two companies operate. At Google, when they're faced with any kind of problem at all -- anything -- they step back and ask: "What is the first-class way to solve it?" Whereas at Amazon, I wouldn't even have been able to ask the question, because there's nobody to ask. Amazon's facilities team is tiny, and they spend all their time trying to solve the problem of squeezing more employees into less space.

Events

Google has twelve paid holidays a year in the US. In contrast, Amazon had five, at least when I was there. At Google we get two days at Christmas, two at New Year's, two at Thanksgiving, and then six others. Pretty nice.

Every year we have a company morale trip. One year they put us up for the night at the Whistler ski resort, including a fancy bus ride there and back, a fancy hotel room, free rental equipment and lift tickets, free lessons if we wanted them, and of course a massive party with a live band and giant dinner and open bar and a chocolate fountain and mechanical bull and whatnot. You know, the usual.

Actually +Adam de Boor tells me I missed some stuff. He went dogsledding, and you could alternately go snowmobiling or get spa treatments or choose some other options we've both forgotten now. Psh. That was so last year.

This year we had two trips -- you could pick whichever one you liked better. Half of us went skiing overnight and the other half went to Vegas. I went skiing, but I heard Vegas was pretty awesome. As you might expect.

But regardless of which trip you picked, everyone got to go to a Vegas "practice night" a few weeks before the trip. They set up a casino in the cafeteria, catered by some local company that provides tables and dealers. The dealers gave lessons to anyone who wanted to learn to play craps or poker or blackjack or roulette. Craps is frigging complicated, so I went and played poker until I was too drunk to see my cards anymore, and went and crashed on a couch upstairs. I do remember at one point some guy pushed all his chips at me and left, even though he hadn't lost or anything. I didn't even see who it was, but if it was you -- thanks!

The morale trip for every Google office is different, and usually different each year. One year down in Mountain View they took everyone skiing in Lake Tahoe. Another year they rented out Disneyland.

Every December we have a huge holiday party. Everyone dresses up (well, it's Seattle, so it's not that dressy). They do the casino thing there too, and you get a thousand "dollars" of fake money in chips that you can spend at the casino, with the overall winner getting an iPad or some such. The holiday parties are my favorite. You bring your S.O. and get your pic taken with Santa. And they bring arcade games and golf cages and table games and sometimes even those big outdoor inflatable carnival games, except they're indoors and you compete on them while you're hammered.

Last year was the best one yet -- they rented out the Experience Music Project and Pacific Science Center in downtown Seattle, and threw the party there. It was amazing.

We just had our yearly Halloween party. There were like 300 kids there, all going through this elaborate scary haunted-house setup in one of the auditorium rooms, and then going office-to-office to trick-or-treat. The whole campus was decorated with Halloween decor -- spiders and cobwebs and stuff that you see all year round at some companies. It was nice.

Every summer we have a company picnic, and you can bring your whole family. Last summer they had hiking and golf and horseback riding and rafting and carnival games and rides and huge outdoor barbecues and who knows what else. They pretty much had me at "golf", so I didn't pay much attention to the other attractions.

Every single week Google has TGIF, where Larry and Sergey and various VPs go up on stage and give a report on the exciting stuff that's happened in the past week, and then field questions from Googlers. There is a site where you can submit questions for that week's TGIF, and vote questions up or down. So by the time TGIF rolls around, the top questions are the really burning ones that everyone wants answered. And you can ask about anything. They even take live questions from an open mic in the audience. And there's always beer and wine, so the live questions tend to be rather pointed and direct, at least when they're intelligible.

Contrast that with Amazon, where they have something similar, but it's quarterly, and you have to write your questions down on index cards that are then vetted by some secret cabal who chooses which questions are suitable for Jeff Bezos to answer.

In addition to our yearly morale offsite, and the holiday party, and the halloween party, and the summer picnic, and the weekly TGIF, and any other regularly-scheduled parties I've overlooked, Google also has random other parties and offsites all the time. We all go bowling every now and then, and they take us all to movie premieres when something extra cool comes out (anything from Harry Potter to An Inconvenient Truth), and we sometimes just go down to the lake and have a catered lunch at the pavilion when the weather is nice.

We also have guest lecturers, and performances from bands, and seemingly random other "stuff". You can never predict what it will be. Sometimes we get fancy gifts for no apparent reason. Last year we all got "Fireswords", which are these insanely bright $400 flashlights that we had to sign waivers for because they can actually blind you, presumably in an attempt to generate more grass-roots interest in Accessibility. Another time they gave us all Earthquake Preparedness Backpacks, which are these black packs that weigh about a thousand pounds. I have no idea what's in mine, but it feels heavy enough to keep the building from moving during an earthquake.

Every year they give us a holiday bonus and a holiday gift. A couple years in a row we got Android phones. I'm still using my latest one. I don't think there's any guarantee that we'll get a holiday gift every year, but so far they've seen fit to give us all gifts, and I don't hear anyone complaining.

At Amazon they were always terrified that they'd create a sense of entitlement, so they never gave us anything. They went to great lengths to avoid instilling a sense of entitlement in the employees, and they often talked about this philosophy publicly.

Google handles the entitlement problem by not giving a shit. They just keep on throwing stuff at us: gifts and perks and activities and facilities and benefits and vacations and lord knows what else. And guess what? There is almost no sense of entitlement here. When it does come up, Googlers self-police: they'll publicly ridicule anyone who complains that the brownies aren't sweet enough, or whatever.

The only people who I think don't really "get" it, who don't realize just how different Google is from the Real World, are college hires who've never worked anywhere else. I always tell people we should have a "slap an intern" program, just to give them a little taste of what working at other places is like. I feel kind of bad for them, should they ever have the misfortune to go work somewhere else. It will be quite a shock for them.

Wrap-Up

Like I said: this could be a book. I haven't even begun to talk about the amazing equipment we get. Or the incredible travel policies. Or how easy it is to request special software or hardware or ergonomic equipment. Or the astounding lengths they'll go to in supporting employees with disabilities. Or the peer-committee promotion process. Or the software engineering culture. Or any of the gazillion other amazing things about this place.

Like I said: it's too much. And half of you probably wouldn't believe me anyway. I sure as hell didn't believe my recruiter when she was telling me about this place seven years ago.

Are there downsides? Sure. A few. The food can make you fat. The environment can make you spoiled. The smart people around you can give you Degree Envy. Some people don't do well with the lack of structure, since it's geared towards self-motivated people who figure out what to work on. You can even wind up on a project that's got a little too much heat on it, and be briefly miserable -- but compared to daily life at most companies, that misery is pretty well soaked in sugar frosting.

I hope this puts a little more context around some of the things I've said about Amazon, though. I would guess that Amazon is in the bottom half of the industry in terms of being a nice place to work -- but not in the bottom 25%. I've seen much worse than Amazon. Heck, pre-2000 Amazon was much worse than today-Amazon. Overall I'd say that today they're probably just a little below the average, industry-wide.

So comparing Amazon to Google is a little unfair, because comparing anyone to Google is unfair. Google's undoubtedly in the top 0.1% of the best places to work in the world, across anything even remotely computer-related.

Hopefully it helps you understand a little better where I was coming from. I didn't really use the right wording before, when I said that Google does everything "right". It's more accurate to say they do everything awesome.

Is this stuff worth writing a book about? You tell me!

[Thanks to my friend +Adam de Boor for reviewing and improving this post, and also for reviewing its awful predecessor that thankfully I didn't publish.]
1670
1845
Paris Theofanidis's profile photoJohn Cruback's profile photoAlan Noble's profile photoRosie Perera's profile photo
261 comments
 
I'm a big fan of the Google Kirkland 50s style diner dessert / coffee bar. I love the chocolate milkshake with espresso!
 
This is fantastic. I would so love to work at a place like this. I loved this post, it's worth more than just the single +1 that I gave it. 
 
Well I'm sold.... When do I start?? *Grin* Seriously need to keep an eye on thier job page *wonders off to find that*
 
I was an intern last summer, loved every minute of it! As you said though, Google is the top company to work for. I am glad I had a year at IBM before my internship so that I know what a real job is like before I head back!
 
Well thanks a bunch. Now i want to work at Google even more, and i didnt think that was even possible.
 
Love your new profile photo +Steve Yegge. Somehow I feel you are transitioning from writing compilers to just plain writing. Your writing is much more engaging than many of the writers that write for a living. Why is that? Men, I salute you.

"...ad-hoc weathervane for employee morale..." Wow! ROFLMAO.
 
You had me with the music studio. I still have tears in my eyes. Really. Too bad Google doesn't make radios, so this remains just a dream for me :(
 
Just have to add, that guilt you talk about, i can feel it. I cant even apply for a job because i cant imagine myself bringing anything to the table at all. I see all the bright people and have a very hard time justifying myself.
 
the bar for amazing food has been raised. It's definitely better than what we had back in 2003. Some cafes make their own jalapeno ketchup, while another cafe makes the best bacon (see my recent post in the my public stream) I have ever had, hands DOWN.
 
I wish I could do all those things for my employees, but sadly we don't make billions of dollars. But it's good to have something to aspire to!
 
Geez. Y'all need any cell biologists over there? (New goal: convince you that you do.)
Greg Millam
+
149
150
149
 
+50 to this. Steve mentions accessibility. I have a story of my own there: I'm a deaf engineer, and, like Steve, I worked at Amazon before Google. At Amazon, I requested interpreters. They gave them to me - for the quarterly all hands meetings. Team meetings, lunch meetings, one-on-ones, department meetings, and so on? Forget it. Not on their budget. Any chance of me understanding what's going on in meetings and being able to provide my insight? Not on their budget!

So then I go to Google. I'm the first deaf employee at Google Kirkland, so they ask me how I want to do it, and give me a team of interpreters every day for the first three weeks while I figure it out. At first, I'm conservative: I ask for an interpreter for meeting days (two days a week), and permission to email requests for any time outside of that. No problem.

A few months go by, I decide to shoot for the moon. "Hi, um, any chance I can have my interpreter here five days a week, 10-4?" (the only consistent hours that I was there).

They didn't blink. Didn't look at costs. Just a "Sure!" and my interpreter was there daily, interpreting lunch meetings with my teammates, one-on-ones, and more.

Now that is accessibility.
 
Where do I send my resume? I'm not good at much but I rode a horse to school once. 
 
I believe Steve, only because I work at Google MTV. It's that good. At Adobe I was one of the smartest people there. At Google, I feel pretty average. Seriously. And yet... it's incredibly fun, in large part because I trust all the super smart people I work with.

The food? I've lost 15 pounds since I joined because all the salad fixins' are just so f'n fresh! And soup! I can't ever have canned soup again!

The openness of the leadership is unbelievable. I remember back when Adobe was small and John Warnock would wander through the halls. It's kinda like that. Yeah, I still get glimpses of Sergey regularly. I can't tell you how critical that is.

Bikes in the halls, dogs all around, soft-serve ice cream machines, EV charging that more than keeps up with the influx, and a bus system in the bay area that takes away the stress of not having a car for a week.

When you don't have to worry about a lot of life's day-to-day worries or occasional glitches, well, it makes me more effective, that's for sure.

But... you do have to be a serious self-starter and be your own self-advocate. If you want an engineering position, know your basics, know how to code reasonably quickly (and readably), and don't lie on your resume (don't list languages you don't know well!). Expect a tough but fair interview process that is challenging and sometimes fun.
 
So... wait... What do you actually do there?
 
I don't know about a "slap an intern" program, but I've definitely noticed a difference between folks who come to Google from other companies and our college hires. For example, if your laptop breaks, you can just walk downstairs and grab a new one and get back to work. To me, this is still a miracle. To them.. well of course, why wouldn't it work that way?
 
Perhaps your interns should work in an Amazon-styled gulag for a couple of months, after tasting the sweet nectar of "regular google life"
 
+Steve Yegge, great post, but you forgot to mention the best thing about working at Google. Sure the facilities, food, toys, processes, etc. are all fantastic, but the BEST thing about Google is getting to work on products used by hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now THAT is amazing!

PS Come visit Google Sydney!
 
+Alan Noble To be fair, that's also one of the key benefits of working at Amazon.
 
Only 12 days holiday? That's pretty poor, especially if it's including the bank holidays.
 
I think Amazon has grown and changed a lot more than you think it has. You should hit me up for coffee sometime and I will give you a modern tour. and then you can give me a tour and we can compare notes.
 
Thanks for fucking DESTROYING my mobile feed. Who the hell are you? Learn circles, talk to them.
 
Heya John, I'm game. We should have beers and catch up anyway.
 
+Steve Yegge has just paid his debt to Google's recruiting department. I'm also in the "would love more than anything to work there, but don't think I would ever make the cut" group of people. (Thanks for sharing)
 
thanks for the post, we often see google videos of locations, but it doesn't fully explain things as nicely as you did now.

I love the story about "ask for guitar and get a studio" that is awesome.
 
There was a brief documentary on Discovery about working at Google, and it didn't do nearly as good a job of selling me on working at Google...
Chris J
+
9
10
9
 
My life is now dedicated to joining the Google team.
 
Gold: the line about working at Amazon being like winning Shirley Jackson's Lottery. No description could have given a more visceral reaction!
 
Another fantastic post from Steve. Thanks for taking the time to write this up. Superb.

I wish this was a weekly/monthly column!
 
+Chris J And as an added bonus Google has many more offices around the world than Amazon. BTW, did I mention that Sydney has nicer whether than Seattle? :-)
 
Something that +Steve Yegge mentions only while talking specifically about facilities is "And sadly I can't even tell you about the two new coolest things they're opening here, because they won't officially launch until next week. But it's always like that."...

The thing is, with the open culture at Google, I have the opportunity to learn about some projects before they launch, and often I get to "dogfood" them and provide feedback while the project's audience is only a handful of dogfooders instead of the usual Firehose of Users that occurs the minute anything is launched publically, so I know my feedback is useful.

There are also products that launch that I hear about weeks later through external sources, just because my cup (of dogfood) runneth over, and if I spent any more time dogfooding, it would be at the expense of my own projects, which I'm not willing to do because I really enjoy what I work on.
 
+Steve Yegge Definitely write that book! I already wanted to suggest this after reading your previous post. Guys, +1 this if you agree :)
 
Amazing! - If Google ever needs a helicopter pilot, be sure to let me know!

Keep 'em coming Steve, very entertaining reading. (A book - yeah, that'd be entertaining too for sure, but when will you find the time?)
 
+Steve Yegge , Your writing is AWESOME. I am particularly drawn to your style, I appreciate the deep thought you put into these subjects, and I adore the candid emotion. It's such a gratifying read, almost cathartic. Can't wait to finish reading this whole thing. :)
 
At this point, I'd like to put my name forward to be a full-time dog-fooder! Will work for minimum wage, and full run of Google facilities! :D
 
+Josh Emmons good to know one, i circled you and when the ZombieCalypse comes we will need you
 
you forgot the fresh made cookies near the fireplace in the coffee lounge near the couches with power cords popping out of the cushions...
 
that's a nice tnetennba. i'd ask for a particle accelerator. and a pair of oompa-loompas. one to carry wine and one to carry an oldschool pocket calculator for me.
 
Very nice post, entertaining and all. But I gotta say, halfway through the Events section I stopped and skipped to the end in a "fuck this, it's too much" moment. Sorry!
 
Like I said in the comments of your last post. Write a frigging book man! Seriously, write it, go on. I'll be happy to accept the first signed copy in Kirkland. You can give me a grand tour while I'm there aswell :)
 
Sounds absolutely amazing, I guess it creates an environment where you don't want to leave work! Has more going on than a small town!

One thing though, in the US you really get screwed over for paid holidays - I get 25 a year and then another 8 or so on top of that for public holidays, and that's pretty standard here in the UK.
 
You, sir, are my hero. A great read. You've got talent. Definitely write that book. With a good editor. (Shorter, briefer, even more focused stories needed.) Do it. Really! About the food at Google: those ice cream sandwiches at Google's Mountain View cafeteria are freakin' awesome!! Oh, and you're inspiring me to blog about the time I rescued Marissa Mayer from a near disaster with her travel plans when she visited ATL to speak at Turner Broadcasting. It was one of those, "I don't know how I'm going to find a way to make this work out, but I'm going to make it work out" situations. Keep writing, Steve! You're awesome!
 
We all knew Google was great for its extras, but making a huge list of three hundred thousand things that you get at Google won't make a good book. The short stories about your presentation at Amazon and Google's platform are way more substantial and would provide a great basis for a book.
 
"Is this stuff worth writing a book about? You tell me!" - Hell yes!
 
If I had to guess why they did it, I'd say it's not entirely about attracting the best and brightest, and it's not entirely about squeezing that extra hour of work out of everyone, and it's not entirely about the "a happy worker is a productive worker" ethos; it is all of these things, but most importantly, I think it fosters a sense of community. The people you work with, in any other job, are usually just co-workers, some of them friends, but at Google, you all work together, you all relax together, you share meals, and I think this is valuable. You have people talking to eachother all over Google, not just at project meetings and stuff. Over a game of pool, a G+ guy could be just idly chatting to a Youtube guy, about what their teams are doing, and that could spark brilliant innovations shared between the services. I think it might be this kind of casual networking, outside of meetings and focus groups and stuff, that really sets Google apart.

This is just my outside perspective, though, as I look at the wonders of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, made real.
 
Yes, it's worth writing a book about this, especially if you do it. In terms of reading pleasure, I think this book would be like Michael Abrash's Graphics Progamming Black Book, but set 15 years later. Do it. Please. Thank you!
 
Sir only ++ for your post no words..really great post.
 
First reaction: Holy crap! Second reaction: Envy. Third reaction (don't hit me for this): Sounds like some of the dot com bubble companies just before the money ran out (and I know there's no immediate danger of that in this case).

Cynicism and envy mixed together make a powerful substance that should only be handled wearing protective clothing.
 
+Neal Bolam: when he says 'paid holidays', +Steve Yegge is talking about what we in the UK or Australia call 'public holidays', e.g. days the whole office is absent. Your own personal holidays are separate - not sure what the arrangements are for US Googlers (I'm in Australia) but I think it's something like 15 days/year, going up to 20 after a few years. Something along those lines anyway.
 
Sold. I will buy your book, if you write it.
Ikai Lan
+
1
6
7
6
 
+Paul Cowan it's 15/20/25 after 0/3/5 years in the U.S. But you don't think of it like that because the company is really good about letting you take care of your own personal business. Family member sick? Just stay home and take care of them.

There are a lot of other subtle things that just make life great. I love knowing that if iceberg wanted to change roles, there are HUNDREDS of roles I could transfer into. +Oz Warren some of the great things about Google are enabled by money, but a lot are things that money alone can't buy. A companywide sense of humor is a really important one. Or the fact that 90% of Googlers believe that 90% of their coworkers are more talented than they are. Statistically impossible, and keeps people pretty grounded.
 
s/iceberg/I (that was kind of weird)
 
Working at google sounds like visiting Toysrus for the first time as a kid every single day. Job envy.
 
+Steve Yegge - left a couple of comments on my reshare, but the thing I'll add here is about your 'slap an intern' idea. I haven't been at Google long (13 months) but for a good chunk of that time I've half-jokingly advocated that what Google really needs is a Reverse Internship. My Reverse Internship would be like e.g. the periodic security or code of conduct training - every (say) 2 years, you'd get a reminder saying 'hey, you haven't done your reverse internship in a while - have you forgotten what the real world is like?'

Then you get shipped off to work in IT at a bank or insurance company or telco cubicle farm, where the company-supplied food extends to a box of dried crackers, and where you have to go through a six-week requisition process to get a desktop machine, plan a quarter in advance to get the 2.5 CPUs and 2GB of RAM you need to run that tiny server, fill out status reports, etc. etc.

Then you come back with a new appreciation for your colleagues, facilities, lack of ponies, and the various technologies which I won't mention by name here but which people rage about all the time even though on a 'real-world' basis they're totally fricking amazing.
 
Steve, when I was at intel during the 90's they performed much like google.... can't say what it is like to work there today but many of my former colleagues still do work there, so 20 years later they must be doing something good. One of the few companies that I have worked for that really impressed me. Sadly as I was there during my 20's I was expecting many other corporations to function as well if not better, how wrong could I be as I found out when moving to london to seek my fortune.
 
Definitely a company that deserves to prosper. I love Google!
 
+Steve Yegge,its very rare to see a techie write so well. You style is very original and quite engaging. You can write 50 pages on tech and still keep a layman engaged. That's talent. I do think you should write a book, but not on Google's Work environment. I think you will run out of steam after a tens of pages(If you tell me i am wrong then i will come and apply to Google to be a Janitor or a Cleaner).
 
+Steve Yegge - Great post. Thanks alot for rubbing it in for all of us on the outside who have Google Envy. Possible title for your book. Google Galore: Living the Good Life
 
This is how I imagined the communism as I was a child in Bulgaria :)
 
<Studies harder for my Google Interview>
 
Ehr... you are right: from the smallish company I work from, here in Italy (Clownland, you know?), that seems pretty unbe-fucking-lievable. Since you don't seem the kind of man who bullshits just for the sake of it... either I can't get the sarcasm or, well, I shamelessly envy you. (PS: the recording studio was the stray)
 
This. +10000000.

Seriously. I will work for Google one day. And I will see you there and we will have a meeting in a boat while I play bass and you play guitar and we can eat chocolate cake and drink mocha slurpies (or some such tastiness).

This will happen.
Great post, by the way. :p
 
A buddy of mine, smartest guy I know, always tutored me through math in high school, couldn't figure out what he wanted to do with his life, just knew that he wanted to work somewhere that had a potential for unlimited growth. About the end of our junior year, someone mentioned that Google was known to be the best place to work. I think that simple comment ignited something in his mind because he has now made it his life goal to get in. He has been pressing for an interview despite being only two years in on his engineering degree. I know that he will do it because he has always been the kind of person that sets himself and succeeds. If you see the name Cory Gabrielsen come up, don't pass it by, it will be worth your time.
 
Wow. And I thought working at Microsoft was awesome because it had free drinks, sports fields, flex-time, and no dress code. I was in the Microtones (Microsoft's a capella choir), and when we asked Bill Gates (and/or Facilities) for a soundproof practice room, we got no response. Hmmph!
 
Any time google wants to get into science I'm there!
 
writers write .. readers read .. I did my part bty maybe on one of those moca breaks someone could call me back from analytics
 
How do you guys/gals not gain insane amounts of weight? (I mean sitting in front of a computer + lots of free food = ....... ) :D .
 
Nice post, knew the culture was something special but this is really crazy! In sweden that type of company culture is really uncommon, but we have to take at least 5 weeks(!) of paid vacation by law - beat that!
 
I dont think that it's that nobody will believe you. It's that we are in an economic nightmare right now and a lot of us are in the dark scary part of it. No one wants to hear how good you have it, it just makes our lives seem so much more suckalicious! While I am happy that there are people who love their job, make good money at it, AND actually feel secure there. It's not a reality for a lot of us. After 15 yrs of hard work and dedicated service, my husbands employer decided to be a big dick and cut him loose, simply because he worked there long enough to be one of the highest paid. So despite the fact that he worked harder for them, and knew his job backward and forward and could do it in his sleep, they decided he wasn't that valuable anymore and got rid of him only to have to replace him with half a dozen temps who didnt know their ass from a hole in the ground. A month later when they realized what a colossal mistake they made, they called him, asked him to reapply and then during his interview (yes they made him endure one when they knew full well who he was and what he was about) they had the audacity to offer him half of his previous salary to do the same job. Do you know how hard it is to get a good job after being at a company that long only to have been fired? No one wants the details, no one cares. THIS my friend is the reality that a lot of us are living right now, so pardon me if I don't want to hear about your free food and valet parking. Quite being a douche!
 
The simple fact that they treat their employees so well makes me love google products even more. I work in the human services field for state government, in a state that will remain nameless, and therefore had no idea that a work culture that fosters so much creativity and productivity even exists. Keep up the good work!!!
 
Good for you, I write with Google!
 
+Dawn Knadler If you don't want to 'hear' about the free food and valet parking use the 'Block' option. That's what it's there for.

Your rant isn't going to resolve anything.
 
Daim....you make working at Amazon sound like a Communist state.lol...no I am with you though.I am freaking jealous of you....so everything good they said about Google was wrong..coz working at Google it seems is super awesome....can anybody please point me to THE best resume templates in the web? Thanks!
 
"How Google Does it Right" by Steve Yegge

Obviously most companies can't do this, but it's really neat to pull out small pieces and see how a company can at least partially achieve the same results. For example, the cost of hiring a very talented chef can be less than the cost of employees leaving for an hour to go find some decent food every day.
 
You realize you've described Fezziwig's Party held at Hogwarts, right? :-)
 
Does Google have a 'retread' program where they hire old 'well seasoned' programmers to show us er, them what it's like to work in the 'new economy'? If so, please put my hat in the ring. I will even be the mentor for your 'slap an intern' program!
 
Sounds like a lot of fun
 
+Dawn Knadler Though your "snap back to reality" post is hard to object to... well, hearing that somewhere the sun is shining and the rainbow is double can shed a (dim) hope on the rest of us. Anyway: best wishes to your husband, I hope he finds a better job soon. Employer like the one you described are the scum of the earth, and I hope that people like those get weeded out from the business, the sooner the better.
 
+Dawn Knadler I just read a post about a company I have known I want to work for since highschool, a company that motivated and inspired me through school and my career. It upset me to scroll down here to find this comment, honestly what happen to your husband is terrible but someone sharing how happy they are at their work place shouldn't upset you, if anything it should motivate you. There is nothing greater then hearing a story from a person who expresses how happy they are, it brings pur spirits up and is what life is all about. John Lennon quote on happiness is even in 'What's Hot' right now, I think this was an appropriate time to share his thoughts about Google.

Unless your just trollin, then you got me =D
 
I agree with what +Manrico Corazzi is saying +Dawn Knadler. I've been through some stupid crap with employers in the past, and I'm working for a pretty good company now, but it's truly nice to see that it's still possible to do things like this, that the entire economy isn't in the toilet.

That being said, now I want to see if the most local Google office (I think Ann Arbor) needs an industrial controls engineer and project manager. :)
 
Head of our company HR department walked by as I was finishing this post and I told him about it. He posed an interesting question. Given that people are just people, do Googlers ever grow "accustomed" to this great environment? Come to take it for granted?
 
+Steve Yegge just a couple of questions, if I may: where do you find the time for all these good things (I mean... you do have A FRIGGIN' RECORDING STUDIO, there!)? And may you tell us a bit about your tools of the trade (chair, desk, PC, cubicle, third party software if any, network... the stuff that ANY employer should care about to make his employees work better).
 
That was really fun to read, Steve, thanks! I love hearing about anybody's place to work since there's no way I'll be able to see every possible job for myself, but Google is clearly a cut above everything else (he said, stating the obvious). I'd be interested in that book.

In the meantime, I've created a new Circle: "Crazy Good Posters" and +Steve Yegge is the first person in that circle.
 
As a random Uni student who has had a chance to visit Google's Sydney Office, I can definitely agree with the sentiment in this story. You don't even need to work there, just being given a tour and seeing the various things and the people happily coding at 8pm makes it fairly obvious its an epic place to work :D. As as for poor working conditions.. let us say I declined a sysadmin job at one point...
 
+Steve Mays I'd say the answer to that is "yes" and "no", most probably at the same time. There are things that are just amazing, then ether are other things where you go "but why doesn't every one do that".
 
Good stuff. Next time one on intellectual challenges at Google, ok?
 
your posts are so freakin long. and yet i still read them...
 
The printer company I work for has a cafeteria, too. It's cheaper for us to pile into a car and drive into town. We also have snacks. In vending machines. Overpriced vending machines. We get presents, too. Shirts that advertise our latest products. No one wears them. We get equipment, too. You just have to try to catch the technology right because you may not get to upgrade for 5-6 years. We get trips. We get to go to China and work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for 3 weeks. We used to spend the 15 hour flight in business. Not anymore. Pfft! Google's not so special.
 
For me personally, as a Google employee, the aspect that keeps me from even thinking about working somewhere else is the fact that everyone is smart, hard-working, and gets things done. It's incredibly stimulating to work with people I can learn from. The perks are here to help everyone in those directions, so they're not gratuitous.
 
Working at Google is my dream job. Any MN locations opening up? We can get crazy-creative here, especially once winter sets in. ;)
 
Is this a recruiting ad for Google? That said, all sounds fantastic.
 
Ok! Justin. I agree with what you have said here pertaining to Steve Yegge. Now, bear with me as I think I have an awesome idea for him so give me your input if so. Why not pass around a nice thick blank book ( like a journal) so that each employee at Google can write about the funniest thing that they have gone through or have seen while working at Google? Then get it published. I feel it would sell by the millions/billions! I'd order it in a minute! The book title could be: Google Giggles! Just an idea from me who is a writer to another writer named Steve who is your friend. My mind never stops with new ideas! Eeeee! What do you think? Should we talk Steve into doing this? Google Giggles: The bright side of being employed at Google. Then later on .... perhaps the dark side that every work place has. That book could be named: Google Sobs : The side of the work place that makes ya want to cry.YIKES!
 
So this is chapter 1 in your book. The preface must always be the rant that made you famous.

You are clearly set to be the the single most popular content publisher (poster?) on Google+ if you keep this up.
 
Wait wait wait - bears have dick bones?
 
"Amusingly, every other Google office I've ever been to had better food than we do." -- You've got it better than we do in the Cambridge office, but our food keeps improving, so we're happy.
 
"The main problem with writing about Google is that nobody will believe you." .. Then call me nobody because I believe :D
 
I love my job and the people I work with but you do make me feel envious. Damn you. Do you have any openings in Chicago?!?
 
+Dawn Knadler there is a reason why i switch companies every two years ... plus: never work to hard, there are plenty of Jobs out there for the open minded folks but only one family. I have a family first directive and it worked out. Was fired end of 2009 by a company that was sold two months later. Had a good network, got 30 different Job opportunities and took the best. Good luck to you husband. What is he doing, maybe we can help getting him a new job?
 
You can write! From an accidental post to a Google+ star ;) Wonder how many people you have made jealous . . . tech journalists, for not having inside info like you do, and Amazon/Google employees, for not writing on the inside info they do have. Even if someone did, yours is a unique and captivating way of illustrating daily happenings.
 
not all employees can / would write their employers and share it in G+. It is like normally one would not write a biography, unless they become famous or near death
 
Having worked at Amazon, I can vouch for the difference with Google in culture around retention and taking care of its employees. Don't get me wrong, Amazon is a great place to work and I learned a ton there during my 4.5 years with AWS, but Amazon is just not wired this way. Microsoft (where I also worked) was more similar, but a pale shadow of what Google offers.
 
See, this is what I meant when I tell my friends I want a job I love going to. I tell my family that and they laugh. They've actually said "If you liked going there, they wouldn't have to pay you". But this shows you that no, you don't have to spend the better part of the waking day in a place you hate. Find a place you love being at. They exist. Never settle.
Good post.
 
I wish more and more company be inspired by Google's way to take care of their employee. Nice long post Steve.
 
I love everything Google. My dream is to work at Google, and I'm only twelve :-).
 
+Paul Cowan I think my office would be a good participant for those reverse internships. We regularly hire excellent engineers, stick them in the smallest cubes anyone has ever seen, give them 5 year old computers and put them under 3 layers of middle managers. You also might be your manager's only direct report, so expect them to stand behind you while you code and ask for status. If you complain enough and are willing to go over your manager's head, you may be able to get a second 19 inch monitor. If you need to use a flash drive, you need to go ask the office manager to borrow one because you aren't allowed to have one. Should be fun!
 
Great post Steve. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to the next one.
 
You're just trying to make the rest of us jealous, right? (says the lowly web worker from her 50s-style non-profit NGO metal desk. But at least I have an iMac! ;-) )
 
I'm graduating with a CS degree in the next month. Ive applied at Google 3 times, all I get is the automatic thank you email (im in Seattle btw). Microsoft has lined me up a couple final interviews but they all have been in places I can't move to. The logistics of hiring must be NP complete.
 
Working for Google is my dream job...I wish my dream could become a reality :D
 
Plus 1, number 666. I am the "+1" of the beast.

But seriously, great post. Makes me regret even more my inadequacy in failing those interviews.
 
Interesting, unbelievable, and fun read. Thanks for taking the time to do it. :)
 
working at Amazon was sort of hilarious in terms of cheapness. They went out of their way to be cheap, or to appear to be cheap. They knew about that reputation, though, and weren't happy about it. (see my ill-fated tech recruiting blog that was yanked after not vetting it with PR)
 
LOL, So this is the retribution for your previous blunder they forced you to write this eulogy!
(kidding)
 
Are you sure it was NY that had the olive bar? I don't recall that in either the old or new buildings. But, yes, everything else is spot-on. I must visit the Seattle office one day...
 
I start at Google Mountain View in January (after turning down a much more senior and better paid job at Oracle). I shall be using this post as a checklist :-) [And for calibration I am ex-Microsoft...]
 
How do you write such long posts. No, really! How? But, let me finish reading up the whole article first.
 
You are an incredible writer, +Steve Yegge! I don't think any post of yours could be too long, because your writing is so amazingly vivid and entertaining. And wow, am I jealous of where you work!
 
Which Android phone was it that Google gave you??? Please let us know!!!
 
I'll +1 to the description of Google, and now I know that I've been putting off a visit to Kirkland for too long. I've visited 8 Google engineering offices, every one of them is different, and all of them are fun. But for all of the perks and all of the facilities... people go to work every day just for a chance to hang out with their co-workers and try to think of something awesome to do that day.
 
Yes! and an idea for the cover: a Google search bar, so it says Google: "The Book"
:) Make it a nice thick one with lots of pictures too!
 
...once Google has a full-time Jazz Guitarist playing in their studio (or front lobby) then they'll really have something. ;-)
 
I couldn't finish reading this. Made me sad, jealous, and envious at the same time. I check Google's jobs everyday... I really need to learn C# maybe maybe I would have a shot at the Atlanta office.
 
After working at Google for five years I've come to love many of these perks, but I think what I love the most is that regardless of the specifics--whether it's hammocks or djembes or lobster for lunch--they all come together to make you feel like the company values you, an employee, as a person and wants you to be happy and healthy as well as just productive. Google invests in our well-being rather than trying to squeeze every last drop of productivity (or economy) out of us through force.

+Dawn Knadler's comment reminded me of a previous employer that I often think about in contrast to Google. I was working in a café, making about $7.25/hr, and I was good at my job but they were still eager to find any excuse to fire me or my co-workers so they could bring in a new warm body at $6.25/hr (think of the savings!!). They could fire you for taking a bite out of a piece of food that was being thrown away at the end of the night because it was stale (because maybe you were pretending it was stale just so you could eat it for free -- theft!). They judged your performance based on a checklist of things like "Did you try to upsell the customer?" rather than whether you had a good rapport with customers or created an environment that made people want to come back. The store manager would sometimes work the register when we got busy and I once saw her try to upsell so many items to a customer -- "Would you like to make that a large? Would you like to add a shot of flavoring syrup? Would you like to add a pastry?" -- that she forgot what he'd actually ordered in the first place. But she would've gotten 100% on the performance checklist, even though he left feeling like she hadn't listened to him and had wasted his time.

During one fall-winter season (the busiest time of year, during the holidays) our café supervisor had quit so I took on his responsibilities of ordering food & supplies, merchandising, inventory, etc. without getting any extra hours, staff or pay (i.e., I was still expected to do everything I did before, plus this stuff, in the same amount of time). Things ran really smoothly, we didn't run out of anything and everything got done. My thanks? During the next pay-raise cycle my "performance-based increase" was $0.02/hr (that's ~$40/year).

Over six years later I still have nightmares about working at that company.
They went bankrupt and no longer exist. Google is going strong.
Just sayin'.
 
Hell yes, write the book. Post was long but I never lost interest. Does Google recruit from the military? I'm in signal!
 
I'd love to work for Google, but my technology stack expertise (gained over 20 years commercial software engineering experience) falls at the first hurdle - C/C++/Java have never been skills I've acquired to the level I'd anticipate Google want. :(
 
Recently went to an HTML5 hackathon and got some chai at one of the cafes you mention. You're not kidding! They had awesome chai (I'm a snob...none of that koolaid syrup please) and a bevvy of milk / milkish options.

Met a google manager there who shared my enthusiasm for quality chai. He made a half-assed recruiting attempt and told me to stop by later that he would probably be in the cafe. He asked me what I do but nothing technical or even about my background. I got the feeling that he did a lot of goofing around which frankly turned me off a bit...

All the perks are cool, but I want to work with people who are focused. I do start to wonder how any company, no matter how great at its core/start, can maintain quality in the ranks when they grow to such a size. I'd like to hear about accountability / co-worker quality more in your future posts. Cheers!

p.s. one other super cool think I noticed in my short time there was digital schedules on the conference rooms...very hackish and solar powered. That's cool!
 
Reading how awesome your job is makes me think that Google is like willy wonka's chocolate factory of IT.
 
I want to work in the Google Kirkland office, to be able to make constant "I'm on a boat." references.
 
Google have set a bar very high. If anyone is going to unseat them, the competition will have to aim even higher. That said, the first thing companies cut when things start going wrong is the perks. I used to work for a Silicon Valley company in high growth phase, and after the dot-com bubble, they cut the free soda's, the fruit, training etc, and you need 3/4 levels of management to get anything approved.

Needless to say the employee moral went down. Their stock price has never recovered. I still keep in touch with some of my ex-colleagues who still work there and we fondly talk about "the good old days"
 
Do the rest of us are like the four other children who is either fat, spoiled or whatever ?
 
I have a hard time maintaining work/life balance. I think it would be REALLY hard for me to stop programming and go home at the end of the day if I worked at a place like this. Plus, I can't imagine my husband not feeling a little sore with whatever normal place he worked, if I got to look forward to that all day. Are there many Google Spouse issues that are discussed around there?
 
My husband works for Google NYC, and I visit him sometimes. Plus, whenever we travel the world, we make a point of stopping by the nearest Google office to admire the decor. So I'm familiar with several of them on 4 continents. We've never been to Kirkland, but it sounds a bit above average to me - and I hope we visit some day!
 
F. you Steve for that awesome explanation. where do i submit my resume..(actually submitted but can you forward it please) and yes definitely write a book but not just about facilities but about your experience.
 
Sounds dreamy but, what about personal life? You know, life beyond the google-family, the google culture, the google world heck, the google universe? With all those temptations present, do you still have a life beyond google?
 
Alcohol... Food... Arcade games... Massage tables... Why would you want a life outside of Google?! :O
 
Thanks for writing this, Steve...I've always wondered if the stories were half-true, and I guess they were. :)
 
I think the bottom line is all these perks boil down to knowing that an employee devotes most of their waking life at a job, why not enjoy it? And if the company outwardly thanks them in addition to trusting them and acknowledging them as experts in what they do, you have a better work environment, which in turn gets better results/products/etc. I think Google just isn't hiding this belief in its staff. If only every company did this, could you imagine what a better place the world would be?
 
@Michael Vaughan - 'cause there is one - though on a second thought I've lost touch with since... can't remember.
 
I am going to dream good tonight... really interesting how they look at problems, seems that too many companies that are run by people who use a narrow focus at problems/circumstances around them instead of using a wider view toward a solution. Thanks for writing this post.
 
When I moved to the third floor of one of the core Googleplex buildings we identified a section of wall that had a roof immediately outside that would make a nice patio. I submitted a ticket to have the door added along with patio furniture and CCed my group and we all laughed about it.

A month later I got an email with the full feasibility study of putting a door there (it wasn't feasible for structural reasons), and was told that the new patio furniture was available for use in a nearby location. Win
 
I did not expect to read a Shirley Jackson's Lottery combined with a Pan's Labyrinth reference today.

This thread delivers! :)
 
man, you are a great writer. i mean, sure you edit, and have others edit. but your posts read like going down a watersliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide.
 
I think the best thing to take away from this post is how great it is when a company truly values and invests in their employees. Loving your employer is truly a wonderful thing, and I hope that more companies out there take this to heart. I'm not so naive as to think that every company is able to offer these amazing perks, but the mentality of valuing your employees should be something that any company wanting to be great aspires to.

I joined the Google team in April of this year (working out of the Boston/Cambridge office) and can echo +Steve Yegge's feelings about how it is to work with such great people.
 
+Jill Brady +Paris Theofanidis Actually Google provides for work-life balance, too. :) In my experience it's something you have to take the initiative on -- no one's going to tell you to work more or fewer hours, or to go home earlier, it's up to you to regulate yourself; but if you decide you want to strike a different balance Google is very supportive (as long as it makes sense with your job requirements). A few years ago I decided I wanted more time in my life for non-work things, so I've been working part-time (3 days/week) for years and it's been great. All my colleagues are very supportive.
 
+Steve Yegge even though I thoroughly enjoy reading these posts of yours... and I absolutely loved your rant and fwded it everywhere as what WE need to do - i'm wondering if this outpouring of love towards Google and Amazon is not just a damage control exercise you may be on to. Is it?
 
To everyone who commented directly to me (too many for me to post here) my husband did get another job (thankfully) and it is actually one he enjoys most of the time. But he had to take much lower pay and we are always afraid that layoffs will be coming soon. I guess I am just upset that we thought things were so secure for us only to get a huge wakeup call that we cant really trust people that we thought were friends. This was a small family owned comany that just did us wrong and wanted to pretend that it never happened. You're all right, I should look at this and have hope that things will get better.
 
+Arvind Gautam Read Yegge's older blog posts. He writes just as gushingly and in the same style and has been for years.
 
I would read the book. No question. I'm fascinated with the work environment and so jealous! I am also very interested in the actual work that you do. Massages and food is great but what about the work that you do and the supervision if any? I'm also wondering if some people don't want to leave work. Maybe some people choose to stay late and come in on days off, stuff like that.
 
I agree! This is worth writing a book about!
 
"My challenge is to find a way to describe Google to you without making you puke" - you're right I do feel a little nauseous...and jealous.
 
Write the book, you have a great talent for description.

I've worked at perk-heavy tech companies before and the perks are all well and good but if you're not doing something fun with people you like you're just trapped in a gilded cage.

I left a perk-tastic job that was killing my soul to work at a cash-strapped startup where there were 10 of us crammed in a space big enough for 5 with no heat in the winter and no air in the summer. I loved going to work!
 
+Robert Harvey make the move. I did, and even though I'm a Melbourne boy through and through (and, I'll be honest, don't even like Sydney) it's still worth it.

And once you're here, you can hassle +Alan Noble to open a Melbourne office and live in a GOOD city. The more agitators we have here, the better.
 
Definitely would be interested in reading a book describing your experiences at Google. Awesome post!
 
Dammit, Mr. Yegge, everything you write is fascinating to read!
 
Your stories are some of the most insightful and honest stories out there. Keep it up. The brutal honesty is actually really nice, even if you're trying to avoid it. It feels so much less fake than other things people write where they just cover up the negative with some exaggerated positives. And I know you're trying not to knock Amazon's workplace environment too hard, but hopefully this post helps people put things into perspective.

But seriously, keep writing. And not just stories. Anything that comes to mind. I think your first major post was great in that it made some of the Google teams (G+ in particular) realize that they weren't quite on the ball. Google is fine with you being a critic. Amazon doesn't pay you anymore. And I know traditionally companies hate people who badmouth other companies. But I think it'd be a shame for your to stop writing just to be nice and not hurt anybody's feelings. Drawing attention to problems is the best way to get them fixed.

I really enjoy the stuff you write as a whole. Stories from tech companies are always good reads and you've got some talent as a writer.
 
Please do write a book! :-)
 
PLEASE WRITE A BOOK. I would stand in line to read it. I love reading your writing.
 
It can't and won't last forever, nothing does, so enjoy. I remember in the late nineties and early 00's getting served champagne and appetizers overlooking Boston harbor at the awesome company I worked for. Well, that stopped pretty fast with the tech bubble burst and everything. It can't last, it's not good business to spend so extravagantly. For now, sure, they are rolling in money but every empire falls.

PS. Your fanboys are worse than Apple's. ;-)
 
+Samuel Penn That's in the US, where vacation days are terribly scarce everywhere (see Amazon's 5 days for example). I work at Google in Dublin and I get 25 days + bank holidays.
 
BOOK! BOOK!! BOOK!!! ^_^ Your writing style is really, _really awesome +Steve Yegge! I feel how you feel working there, and I can almost see / touch / smell / taste all the wondrous stuff you've just described! You're such an excellent writer that's for sure! Can't wait for your next post, and of course, your book! ;-)
 
+Josh Emmons Haha, someone from the Seattle office was joking the other day about how they needed a helicopter. I am not sure if that will fly though :P
 
+Paul Cowan I have considered moving to the Sydney office (from Dublin) but not taken the step. If it were Melbourne I'd be there tomorrow :D
 
Larry was in Seattle once when an employee asked if we could get a hovercraft to commute between Kirkland and Freemont. Larry was all for it in his typical analytical way. He simply asked the employee to evaluate the speed at which a hovercraft could transport staff vs driving across the 520. Money wasn't the issue, rather whether or not the mode of transportation was effective. Data based decisions, that's how things get done at Google.
 
i definetly think this would be an interesting book... it would be very beneficial to entrepreneurs and to most business developers as it would be written from the stand point of an employee. Giving examples from the best in the world, no one is perfect but that doesnt mean people shouldnt try to get as close as they possibly can.
 
Define Google: Go on and write a book explaining it...
 
I love your writing. Google is the only employer I'd consider moving away from St. Louis for.
 
Ask anyone in the real world what Amazon sells. Then ask them what Google sells.
 
Oh I believe you, keep writing, Definitely worthy of a book!
 
+Steve Yegge OK, you've convinced me. I'm willing to move back to Seattle just to work for Google. Now, if I only had skills Google could use. I am a musician. Maybe I could sweep the floors in the music studio? Also, I will slap interns.
 
Actually, +Steve Yegge I think we're only supposed to bring guests up to two times/month and only for lunch. It's not like we can feed our families for free.. ;-)
 
Freekin awesome.. As you already said, "So comparing Amazon to Google is a little unfair, because comparing anyone to Google is unfair. Google's undoubtedly in the top 0.1% of the best places to work in the world, across anything even remotely computer-related."
 
+Steve Yegge .. so how the heck do you get things done at Google with all these things happening around you?
 
+Steve Yegge your description of Amazon sounds like standard retail to me. Walmart has meetings with top vendors in lawn chairs. The only way to make it feel any cheaper would be to have an actual drunk guy wearing a "wife beater" serving the tap water, or whatever they offer. There is also the constant fear of being fired. 
 
"Is this stuff worth writing a book about? You tell me!" i think it is. i usually dont read this kind of stuff but your writing skills and interesting subject just pulled me in and i really enjoyed reading it.
 
I'm not so sure on the book. You certainly have the skills to write it and there's definitely plenty of stories to tell about how fantastically Google treats it's employees. But what's the overall theme of the book? Employee rentention policies that work? Google is better than Amazon (and Walmart and lots of other places apparently) so there?
 
Also, I get the impression that if Amazon, or Bezos personally, called you up and said, "Steve, we're sorry, we're going to make this right, we want you back", that you'd go running. I can tell they have a special place in your heart, a little chamber labeled stockholm or something.
 
I have to say it would be rather amusing to read your book on an Android powered Kindle... ;)
 
And I even can't get two-ply toilet paper on the job!
 
Lots of folks talk about the perks (excellent free food, awesome offices, massages, etc.), but what's left out is the openness internally. They're really honest and open with employees, and they _ listen_ more than any company I've worked for.

Google is the best company I ever worked for, and I'm very sad to not be working there anymore, but the actual work can be uninspiring unfortunately. Like every company there's a ton of stuff that is uninteresting to work on, and if you're underperforming because you're uninterested, you can't transfer.

I wish I'd spent my Google time better, climbing the wall of (completely unique to Google) technologies, but I don't regret working for them.

It's an amazing company; I wish the work had captivated me more. If you're qualified you should work there too.
 
Thank you for writing this Steve. In 2007 I interviewed at Google on a whim, really, but when I went to the offices for my on-site interview it was like walking into a dream. I could hardly believe what I was seeing.

Then I really wanted the job. And four years later, I can honestly say that almost every day has been an absolute pleasure. Not just because of the incredibly generous perks which are well-documented and not exaggerated at all (because you could hardly exaggerate them). But because of the atmosphere of knowledge sharing and experimentation, working with so many smart people. And because of the feeling of being close to the heart of the technology world. And the amazing speakers that come to give lectures and share their experience.

But I don't write about this stuff often because as humble as I am to work for Google I realize few others share this level of luxury and as Dawn aludes to, we need to be respectful of that (as your post is).

My favorite TGIF question was when someone asked Larry if he had a bottle opener.
 
It sounds like the ideal place for people who love what they do, with a company that's willing to let them do their own thing. It's the trust Google place in their staff; the assumption on hiring that "We've got the right people, now let's show them we believe it" - that's the vibe I take from this.

Google appreciate their staff, and their staff appreciate Google is what I keep hearing. I wish more companies would think like this; it's how you can get more from your staff. Goodwill is worth so much.
 
Bring Back Wyvern
Bring Back Wyvern
Bring Back Wyvern
Bring Back Wyvern
Bring Back Wyvern
Bring Back Wyvern
Bring Back Wyvern
Bring Back Wyvern
Youd Be Amazed At The Following You Have Accumlated :)
 
"Motivational Quotes" :) Get on with Life we all make mistakes.
 
Wow! I'm left speechless. +Steve Yegge I look forward to reading your book some day. Now to figure out how to improve the work environment here with 0.00000000000000001% of Google's budget! ;-)
Zak Mhm
 
My dream job!
 
I think you should publish a book. You are witty and have a great writing style.
 
I'd be really interested in more Amazon stories; I know enough Google people to know Google is an amazing place to work, but Amazon, despite providing a lot of awesome services to external customers, is kind of a black box.
 
All I gotta say is I finally read this whole thing, and I'm completely jealous of everyone who works at google now. But I'm sure they all deserve it too.
 
I don't suppose you guys need a Librarian, specifically a cataloger. Sigh, back to my fixing of broken serials records.
 
The stuff in this post is why I've applied (and will continue to apply) at Google. One day I'll get there.
 
+Steve Yegge What about desk, hardware and software? Can you still use Emacs for most of what you do at Google?
 
Epic post. Can't read all of it at work but ill get back to it.
 
+Steve Yegge Just 9 posts, 27009 Followers. Your Social ROP (return on post) is going through the roof! Keep it up. Merry Christmas to you.
 
It would certainly be a fun and fascinating read!
 
+Steve Yegge, I listened to your OSCON speech a few months ago where you "quit." A lot of what you said resonated with me and I was wondering if you could post some tips on where to get started — books, online communities, even courses — for those of us wanting to learn to contribute as well. Thank you.
 
Have you made any progress with Wyvern lately?
A lot of us are waiting for some real news.

Please don't forget about us!
 
Bring back Wyvern! Rhialto you're the only one who can!
 
What solves writers block? Wyvern! :D It's the BEST medicine.
 
I work at Ecuador´s biggest company and with maybe the biggest benefits for its employees around, and you ACTUALLY made me feel like if I was a homeless begging for charity (no offense) comparing to your Google experience. Damn.
 
Wow. Almost afraid to believe you. Y'know, when something's too good to be true... it usually is? Wow.
 
Do you really think they are going to cook us and eat us? :(
It does seem quite plausible now that you mention it!! Waaahhhh!
 
Hi Steve, i was thinking if this could be what Google should be doing -


Google should be playing its strengths, and not just enter the facebook country with a shield (or was it a spear?) called circles. So what could be its Trojan's horse?


To me it appears that Google is still not playing with its strengths - gmail, google groups, youtube and of course search; instead of trying to match your opponents strong spin, you should make up with your court coverage. Google need not agree when FB calls its single wall the social network. Networking/communication happens elsewhere too.


Google groups for one. How would it be if google took all the conversations inside google groups to its circles? Simply making each google group a circle and providing some additional incentives of +1s/animations/video responses for members to switch. This should make the switch over seamless for people - it should be easier to continue a conversation than start a new one (as G+ is likely at a disadvantage vis-a-vis FB when it comes to involuntary posts). Google group members would make up for a ready circle while the rest of contact list should be friends by default.


Still these initiatives might not bring G+ that elusive 'wall'. My strong suggestion is dont be too obsessed with creating a wall, make Gmail and Search your walls. And instead of waiting for users to add other users to their circles, suggest smart circles the way FB did as a response to G circles. Google can start off by showing search results/news articles +1ed by contacts/groups. To be fair, Google is doing that currently with G+ list of friends. But somehow it seems to miss the fact that links on Gtalk status messages are more likely to be visited than the ones on the 'wall'.

Its from a blog post that I wrote today here at http://aharnisa.blogspot.com/2012/01/what-google-should-do.html
 
I wonder if Google will be so free with the perks when (not if) their money eventually starts to run out?
 
Definitely worth writing a book about! :)
 
THIS is why I use Google as my example of positive recruiting in HR classes I teach.
 
Hahaha, my fave reply is this guy above me asking for Steve to help him with his email support #epic reaching 
 
James Woods saddens as he waits patiently wondering when his beloved Wyvern will come back to him. Ooh, a piece of candy...Ooh, a piece of candy...Ooh, a piece of candy...Ooh, a piece of candy...
 
A lot of perks, but there seems to be a bit of a negative side to it. The amount of perks is overwhelming, and Steve's posting clearly implies that Googlers are suffering hedonistic adaptation. What we see is a very resource intensive HR policy here, based on sheer material quantity of (quality) goodies rather than smarter targeting of employee's actual needs. Has there been a study to see if there is an actual sustained improvement in happiness while working at Google?
 
Miss South Carolina, huh? Interesting/. Do you wear Victoria Secret underwear? I know they're very comfortable.............
 
I've gotta add something to what Steve said about the "we're not worthy" feeling this place delivers. I keep being so impressed by the new people that we continue to hire that I always have this secret feeling that if I was trying to get hired today, I wouldn't make the cut.
 
Have you thought of opening more places in Chile?
 
This is all well and good, Steve.

But if Google really hires the best and brightest engineers in the world, who can get those cannibals and missionaries across all safe and efficient like, and then treats them like the gifted geniuses they have to be to survive the interview process...

How the hell did android.view.View.java and android.widget.TextView .java happen? (and that's just as of android-15. I hope it wasn't worse before)

I mean, there are black holes everywhere. This is certainly no more egregious than a 3K line JSON parser with 57 gotos everywhere (I've seen that).

But come on, man.

How did android.media.MediaPlayer.java end up being documented as the MediaPlayer "API" then end up implemented as a _concrete class_ that changes so often it breaks a book that was written a year ago on Android 2.2 because Android 4.0 couldn't keep "the API" consistent (Adapter anyone?)

You're working in Java, and there are pieces that are like C or worse.

John Seigel posts that most of the questions posted on StackOverflow are Android. Almost 1/3 are unanswered.
He posited it was because of lack of community understanding.
http://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/131290/stack-exchange-community-statistics-results-which-questions-are-the-least-frequ/131294#131294

I wonder if it has something to do with deep inheritance hierarchies, nested classes, ugly names, deep methods, magic numbers, Big Balls of Mud and breaking API changes?

I love Google. I trust Google. I'm sure this is all the Open Handset Alliance's fault.

But you guys are asserting _technical leadership_ on this project. You guys are advocating millions around the world to incorporate this source into their devices around this beautiful, open idea...and this is the kind of source you allow to linger and fester?

I've been in your bodacious bathrooms with their toothpaste, showers, and fliers on the wall talking about testing...

Yet no architects are reviewing your platform and trying to herd these cats?

Shouldn't you guys expect better from yourselves while eating all that gourmet food? Your rant on service platforms was inspiring. Does Google need a rant about how code quality matters?
 
C'mon, Steve. It's been six months. Break through that writer's block.
 
here I am, asking myself if you're still alive and kicking.. are you even working there still?
 
steve I'm telling you now if you don't write this book many the planet will be made of you after what you said.

Nice just keep doing what you do the best
 
Honestly, the food thing will be the biggest issue.  In America, there is a problem with thought consciousness when it comes to food. 
 
+Kunal Yadwadkar There are also gyms available on site, and massage hours available. And table tennis. And fussball tables. And wiis and all other possible game consoles. And balls (http://www.togu.de/en/Play-Sportsballs/Sports-balls/Gymnastic-balls-Best-Quality-unvarnished-gold.html). And slides. And bikes available everywhere on the googleplex area.

Also, the great food is like anything else: after a while it you get used to it, and you only eat as much as you need. And since it's literally there 24 X 7 (with three cooked meals during the day, and lots of healthy drinks and fresh fruit and cereal bars in microkitchens sprinkled among the offices), you can actually develop very healthy eating habits.
 
Steve, you make me almost regret turning down an Interview with Google in 2009.  Unfortunately I would have had to relocate to the Bay Area and that just wasn't in the cards for me.  I am the Executive Director of a non profit I started years ago.  We accept broken or decommissioned computers and give them to kids that cannot afford one.

I too feel that I have the best job in the world.  And while the old and customized WWII barracks we use as a facility center doesn't have the heaven-on-earth cool campus that Google has, I feel completely at peace doing what I do.

But seriously...thank you for your insight.  I've worked around people that were so much better at doing their job than I was...I felt like a complete fraud at times.

Here's what we do.

http://linuxlock.blogspot.com/2013/05/when-sun-shines.html
 
I once interviewed for the Google LA office (I didn't get the job) BUT the tour of the place was jaw-dropping. 5* food, all-you-can-eat-salmon, water cans with strawberries for flavor, separate nap pods for your siesta, a game room where a whole bunch of people were actually gaming, a gym with a super trainer who will volunteer to monitor your diet and regimen, the list goes on. Plus, the guys there were really satisfied with the company; they were frank to admit that their previous jobs sucked compared to Google. The Google recruiters were also much nicer than other places I've interviewed. And yeah, this is from a guy who didn't get the job the first time. I'll probably try again though.
Add a comment...