Silicon Valley Neighborhoods: Google's Free Food Hurting Local Businesses
Google is in the midst of a large expansion in Mountain View and much of North Bayshore – east of highway 101 is becoming one giant campus. It's developing a 1.1 million square foot campus at NASA Ames; and another site at Charleston East. And west of 101, it recently purchased about 15 acres in Palo Alto.
Google clearly is not a proponent of work at home. With all the thousands of current and future Googlers local businesses should be happy -- but they aren't.
Local restaurants are hurting badly reports Daniel Debolt at the Mountain View Voice: Can't compete with free eats: Facing closure, Shoreline restaurant owners try to negotiate with Google.
…thousands of employees who once ate lunch at their businesses -- employees of Siemens, Visa and Omnicell, among others, leave the area to make way for Google.
Local restaurants asked Google for help, suggested a voucher system to encourage Googlers to eat out. Google's response? A letter offering:
"… personalized training to get your restaurant set up with free Google products. These tools and tips can help make it easier for customers (including Googlers) to find your business online and make sure your business information is correct in search results."
Googlers don't drive so how will they get to the restaurants? They are dropped off each morning by massive busses.
Todd Carlisle, Director of Staffing at Google recently said that perks such as free food are not necessary to recruit top talent. He said no one accepted a job offer at Google because of the work perks.
It's not only food, Google provides a host of other services for its staff, including on-site dental work. That's not going to help local business services. Googlers don't leave the mothership.
Google's chief economist Hal Varian should look into this issue.
Twitter is similar. It moved into a very poor neighborhood in San Francisco and it provides free food to hundreds of its staff. "We're proud to be gentrifying the area," said Melissa Daimler, Head of Organizational Effectiveness and Learning at Twitter, at a Commonwealth Club event last week.
Keeping Twitter workers inside the building doesn't do anything to help local businesses. (Maybe they are scared of all the street people?) Gentrifying a neighborhood usually means working to improve it. How is Twitter "gentrifying" anything? It demanded tax exceptions before agreeing to move in. It would rather be a burden on its neighbors than ease the burden of others.
Tech bubble and babble
What are the benefits communities get from having tech companies in their midst? They are supposed to be a good thing and other countries want them but what would they get?
They literally live in their own bubble. They don't pay much in taxes and they are oblivious to the health of their neighborhoods. The public schools here are basket cases and our cities face the same problems as cities anywhere in the US.
Silicon Valley says it is inventing the future -- yet its neighbors are suffering. You can't change the world if you can't change your local communities. Make change local then scale global.