Stephen Foley: Searching question Google can't answer


US Outlook: Was Google's move this week to give every employee a 10 per cent pay rise a bold tactical move in the "war for talent", or was it surrender?

The company has prided itself on being a desirable place to work – the desirable place to work – a university campus of experimentation, where employees get 20 per cent of their time to follow their own personal projects, in the knowledge that Google can back them if they are successful. So I just don't get the boast about a big pay rise. Is that all you have to offer? Cash?

For in-demand computer science graduates looking to get rich, the really big upside is never going to be in a publicly-quoted company. Pre-flotation upstarts, such as Facebook (where 12 per cent of employees are ex-Google), offer more monetary promise. Baby start-ups offer vastly more, if they take off. Google equity and share options have lost their appeal, as its own employees have been telling it.

It is hardly news that Google is not a start-up any more. The company is worth $200bn and makes profits at the rate of $1m an hour.

It is the entrenched market leader in online advertising and the launches of great inventions like Google Maps and Gmail are now quite some distance behind it. Its latest big product roll-out, pop-up previews of web pages alongside its search results, is in fact a copy of Microsoft's Bing.

The worrying question raised by the raise is whether Google is running out of ideas, not just ideas about how to compensate its staff but about how to energise them.

My experience of software engineers and their ilk is that they are motivated more by creativity and the chance to change the world for the good than they are by money. It is exactly the world view that is summed up in Google's own company slogan: Don't be evil. That slogan is much under attack these days, as the company's tentacles stretch into all corners of business and it has greater and greater profits to defend. I'm not sure there is much that a 10 per cent pay rise can do about that.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Admin Assistant

£12000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding Insurance Brokerag...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst with experienc...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders