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You may not want to leave Goldman Sachs for Google after reading this

If you work for an investment bank (like Goldman Sachs) and you think life would be much better if you worked for a tech company (like Google), you might want to refresh your worldview by taking a look at the recent tweetstorm from former Google designer Morgan Knutson.

Knutson spent around a week tweeting about his miserable experience working on Google+ in 2011 and 2012. It's long and you can read it for yourself here. Knutson emphasizes that this was at least six years ago, that this was just one team and that he is just one man venting about his subjective experiences. Even so, he makes working for Google sound as bad as working for any investment bank - if not worse.

This, briefly, is what you need to know.

1. Google was not above the bait and switch job offer

Knutson thought he'd be working on Chrome. He was actually staffed on Google+.

2. Google's campus seems pretty infantile when you work there

Knutson says it's "silly and college like" and "kitsch." "Goofy colored furniture. A slide. Crap...everywhere."

3. Google can take ages to get back to you after an interview

In Knutson's case Google waited around three months. Loooong.

4. Induction day is super-corporate

Knutson says his first day was like he imagined, "freshmen orientation at a prestigious college would be like." Everyone was called "Nooglers" and sat in a room that, "looked like it was set up for a time-share pitch."

5. The CEO is treated like a God

"The CEO didn’t just have an office. The entire floor was his," says Knutson. It included a war room and his own, "super fancy vegan cafe called “cloud” that wouldn’t be sustainable in the real world."

6. Not everyone at Google is a sweetheart

In eight months, Knutson says the head of Google+ (his manager), "didn’t say a word to me. No hello. No goodbye, or thanks for staying late. No handshake. No eye contact."

Another manager, who Knutson calls 'Greg' is described as, "a smarmy, politically motivated little fella who had no intentions of ever leaving Google," and who took credit for some of his work. At one point, Knutson says Greg told him he didn't want him on his team and that he could go home - even though he wasn't actually being fired. "Google was completely and utterly ruined for me after this moment," Knutson reflects.

7. It's a highly political world in which things get done even though they don't make commercial sense

Knutson says, for example, that teams were encouraged to integrate Google+ features with, "a 1.5-3x multiplier on top of your yearly bonus. Your bonus was already something like 15% of your salary." People were therefore receiving a, "ton of money to ruin the product [they] were building with bloated garbage that no one wanted. "

8. Google will underpay you given the opportunity

Knutson earned comparatively little working for non-profits before joining Google. He says they took advantage of this: "They low-balled me. My offer was $115k a year with $100k in stock vesting over 4 years. It was way more than I’d ever made, but still below market rate. I accepted with no negotiating. My title was UI Designer Level II. Also low."

9. Google has four year bonus vesting

See 8.

10. The work at Google can be meaningless

Knutson came across someone he says was, "working on a tiny sliver of a sidebar tucked away on an internal page of Plus. Games, or something. “Inconsequential” is a good description."

11. The bureaucracy can be huge 

"There was the “creative team” which was a service team that would create icons or other assets based on the outdated style guides. You’d have to submit a form and wait for them. They were a bit surly."

There's plenty more in there, but the bottom line appears to be this: quitting banking for a job at a big Google style technology firm will not solve your career issues. It may even make them worse.

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: sbutcher@efinancialcareers.com in the first instance. Whatsapp/Signal/Telegram also available.

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Ak
    Akhil Sharma
    20 October 2018

    They are one of the most over rated companies in the world. Having been exposed to them for a few years - one thing is apparent. Their PR is phenomenal. They've got everyone fooled thinking that they're a real "technology" company, when in fact over 80% of the staff are either marketers or sales people who work on finding ways to generate leads of businesses that they can sell their online advertising solutions to. They're an advertising company staffed with people overqualified for this task: Ivy league MBAs on the business side (many who are extremely political with chips on their shoulder), ex-investment bankers (who couldn't hack it, get the brand on their resume & move on to do their own startup) and of course PhDs and engineers building half-baked/buggy products due to their "20%" time. Their internal reporting systems are a mess. Their Cloud business is failing to get traction, B2B products are pathetic (vs. world class MSFT) and the moonshots are well...moonshots. The company continues to be reliant on SEM revenue and their attitude internally towards privacy is sad ("do no evil" is a joke, as that's exactly what they'll do if they can get away it under their T&Cs). Average staff tenure is <2 years (look it up!) as many people work there for the brand, can't hack the internal politics and relentless pressure to deliver on OKRs quarterly before moving on. Contractors are generally treated as 2nd class citizens (although they tend to be more knowledgeable about the internal workings of the company processes and systems) are but expected to work OT and do all the dirty work that the Ivy League MBAs won't touch at meager pay. Sure, some people may have wonderful experiences there, but there's plenty of boot polishing and politics to go around. Free food isn't always the answer to happiness and all that glitters is not gold. Tread carefully!

    Case in point:
    https://www.businessinsider...

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