Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

The Landscape Around Google’s Hiring Binge

After a year or two of stagnancy, the Google employee count is growing rapidly again. But the growth spurt and retention efforts seem forced, and unlikely to be the perfect formula to keep the company at the top of the Web heap, despite its clout, market share and massive revenue. Part of the problem is that the company’s executives seem out of touch with how the Web is evolving.

The search giant has 2,076 job openings, as tabulated in a story by Reuters last night. It has acquired more than 20 start-ups this year, it’s giving all employees a 10 percent raise and it’s still adding search market share–even if only measured in tenths of percentage points. The company is even building a new 1.2-million-square-foot corporate campus in Mountain View, Calif., that is to include housing. Google now has more than 23,000 employees. It’s currently adding about 100 people per week, said a source.

But it’s an awkward time at Google, where a group of employees can leave, create a start-up and come back two years later through an acquisition with $50 million in their pockets. And the stories about competitive hiring wars with Facebook just keep getting more fantastical.

According to a source, a Google engineer recently ended a counteroffer war with Facebook by accepting $6 million worth of Google stock to keep her job there. Apparently she was not in a senior role at Google, but part of what made her so coveted was the fact she’s a female engineer. And this was Google’s second counteroffer after she had already told them she was going to Facebook.

At this point, Facebook (narrowly) has fewer employees than Google has job openings.

Google needs to find a way to foster its employees’ entrepreneurial desires and talents. The promise of exponentially growing stock options versus a simple raise still tempts many people.

Part of why Google needs to “get social” so badly isn’t just on a product or market level, but to impress its own employees. At a place where the top management is firmly ensconced and immutable, younger employees, especially, say they are turned off by their bosses’ lack of social media savviness on a personal level. It’s clear that tomorrow’s tech leaders are already blogging, Tweeting and Facebooking, so why are today’s leaders still resisting?

Here’s a quick tally (tell me if I’m getting any of these wrong): Eric Schmidt has a Twitter account that he updates every week or two, mostly to promote Google stuff. Sergey Brin’s last blog post and Tweet were both in January. Larry Page doesn’t seem to do much of anything personal or professional online; there’s not even a LinkedIn account or a Google Profile that I can see. Marissa Mayer seems to be the most active high-profile Google exec on Twitter, and actually responds to people there, as well as syndicates some Foursquare updates. As for the folks leading Google’s social stuff: Vic Gundotra’s last Tweet was in May. Bradley Horowitz isn’t blogging much anymore, and his last Tweet was a month ago.

Please see the disclosure about Facebook in my ethics statement.