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Google: Now Passing On Great Talent to Help Al Gore Stop Global Warming...

Google's good on Talent.  Really good.  So good they could hire away your best people tomorrow.  The good news?  They won't, because that would harm the unique talent ecosystem that breeds an honest industry.

Or some $*** like that.  Pull on your wading boots, my friends, because it's about to get deep.  From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer :

"Google passes on hiring some exceptional engineers, even if they are a perfect fit for the Internet giant, because keeping them outside the company strengthens the competitive ecosystem, an executive said Wednesday.Al_gore

"I recently had a discussion with an engineer at Google and I pointed out a handful of people that I thought were fruitful in the industry and I proposed that we should hire these people," Google vice president Bradley Horowitz said at a San Francisco conference, as reported by The Register. "But (the engineer) stopped me and said these people are actually important to have outside of Google. They're very Google people that have the right philosophies around these things, and it's important that we not hire these guys. It's better for the ecosystem to have an honest industry, as opposed to aggregating all this talent at Google."

Horowitz made this statement at the Supernova 2009 conference, where tech-industry leaders talked about the future of technology in "meaningful social and business contexts," as the conference's Web site states. So of course Horowitz was going to pump up his company's ethical stances.

Wow.  Where is Al Gore when I need him to link this approach to global warming and the sensibilities of the Prius?  It's an interesting take from a company that's been known to make agreements with other tech giants not to poach talent that resulted in anti-trust inquiries.

This is why I've always been a Microsoft kind of guy.  No pretension.  The vibe in Redmond is more "we're here to compete and by the way, we're not afraid to bundle your business model into our primary product if that's what it takes to break you".

You know, the honesty thing.  No ecosystem references beyond "we've got a recycling bin" in the second floor breakroom. 

Don't be evil hating.

Comments

SteveBoese

I will play the Google side on this for a second. I think you could make a (weak) argument that having real and meaningful competition will make them better themselves. If you scoop up all the talent for yourselves, maybe they get complacent, maybe without enough external challenges they lose the edge. Ali only became Ali after the Frazier trilogy.

survivor

Not too long ago Microsoft used to be like this. But then got too big. This kind of thinking doesn't make sense but I guess when you are the top dog you can do whatever you like and it fits in with Google's 'do no evil' philosophy.

On a side note, I know about some of the dev/research work going on at Google as well as some of the people there, and they really are that good. Sometimes they are scarily good. But then they do have close relationships with some of the nations leading technology research centers (Stanford, Berkeley, etc.) which makes them more than just a typical software development company. They are at the forefront of the worlds web 2.0 efforts and I am proud that (once again) its an American company which is setting world standards in the tech domain.

David Kinnear

I'm going to go with Google on this one as well. They are coming from a mentality of abundance rather than scarcity. It is an enlightened point of view to take.

I work with many executives and Peer Advisory Boards. When building a new Board or filling an existing one, I often ask members to think about who else should be at the table or at another Board. I will often suggest that they consider a competitor for another Peer Advisory Board (obviously not the one in which they participate). Some get the point, others don't. It is always advisable to have sharp competitors who compete openly and fairly; competitors that won't destroy the market place with stupid moves.

If you can't stand good competitors, then perhaps you shouldn't be in that market space at all. How much fun is it to play a sport against a truly inferior team? Is that really winning? I think not.

Dave Kinnear
Executive Leader Coach

Dave Hardwick

Kris, you might be right about Google's story being a bit stinky, but, it might also be the case that your framework from HR is blinding you to the OpenSource viewpoint.

Google was built on OpenSource technology. Microsoft wasn't and isn't. They result in remarkably different business models, and this trickles down into all aspects of the business.

Put a pin on this one, and ten or twenty years from now, let's see which one is on top.

http://jobhacking.typepad.com/job_hacking/2010/01/working-with-the-flow.html

Justin Sherratt

Kris,
I have to disagree with your point. I think Google does want to crush. However they also recognize that its easy to pick off the best talent after its been field tested by other companies.

Two competing flowers in the same pot will only allow one to grow. However that other flower might just grow later in life. Allowing it to grow in a separate flower pot down the street till it reaches its full potential will be much better in the long run..

However, considering the recent China developments, its very possible that "Do No Evil" is a true motto...

And lastly, being an engineer at Google often means designing a cool cog in a very big machine. Some of the best engineers would rather work on the big picture. And Google knows that.

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