Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Living In The Shadow Of The Googleplex: Communities Struggle To Keep Jobs

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 23, 2013

I want to highlight this fact:

Last week at a Commonwealth Club event, Todd Carlisle, Director of Staffing at Google said that lavish work perks such as free food, and services such as apartment cleaning, were not a factor in recruiting top talent.

He said that no one had refused a job offer from Google based on available perks, or asked about them. 

So why does Google continue to provide free food and other services when it knows it is harming local businesses? The problem will only get worse as Google plans huge new office developments in Mountain View, and Palo Alto. 

Daniel Debolt at the Mountain View Voice has been on top of this story: Can't compete with free eats: Facing closure, Shoreline restaurant owners try to negotiate with Google.

 Should Google offer some form of compensation? Should Google even show concern about its impact on local communities? Does it need data, or does it know what to do?

I'm pretty sure Google knows what to do, and that its secret motto is really, "Do the right thing,"rather than the curiously unambitious,"Do no evil," which doesn't work as a rally cry, or as an inspiration to its workers.  The Google people I know are most definitely interested in doing things, doing the right things – and they want their employer along with them.

Twitter is another tech media company that seems Asperger syndrome (AsS)-like in trying to understand its relationship with its neighbors. It is in the Tenderloin, a very poor downtown San Francisco neighborhood. 

The city gave Twitter big tax breaks to help gentrify the area but how will that happen if hundreds of Twitter staff stay inside their building all day, eating free gourmet food, and choosing from a menu of half a dozen work perks, including apartment cleaning. The young engineers must feel as if they are back home at mom's but there's no benefit at all to local businesses trying to compete against Twitter's free services. 

Giant IKEA brought a lot of employment to East Palo Alto, a poor struggling community. Giant Google seems oblivious to its impact on its neighbors, or how to best help them. For example, it offered struggling local businesses free training in using Google ads.

But Google is trying, and it just needs some help in figuring out how to do the right thing in regards to its local impact and the health of its communities. But as with all new things, there's no much data, it'll have to make decisions naked and make the data, and that'll influence other corporations.

More here:  Silicon Valley Neighborhoods: Google's Free Food Hurting Local Businesses 

 

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