Search and Why People Quit

March 14, 2012

I saw two headlines which initially did not ring my chimes. I scanned “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs.” Pretty tame stuff, particularly when I get the name dropping and the baloney; for example:

It might sound surprising to a skeptical public, but culture was always a vital part of Goldman Sachs’s success. It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients. The culture was the secret sauce that made this place great and allowed us to earn our clients’ trust for 143 years. It wasn’t just about making money; this alone will not sustain a firm for so long. It had something to do with pride and belief in the organization. I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this firm for many years. I no longer have the pride, or the belief.

These assertions about the “golden past” were chopped from the same species of corporate pig as the “nothing worthwhile comes easy” from the mid 1970s at Booz, Allen & Hamilton. Companies create myths in order to shape the hearts and minds of the new hires. The “culture” is more important than family, free time, vacations, and apple pie. Then the money makes it clear that the outfit is pretty much about money, making lots of it and convincing one another how smart those lucky enough to work at the firm really are.

I found the obligatory “wake up call to the board of directors” indicative of the mind set which gets a person hired in the first place.

The second story was “Why I Left Google.” The write up is oinking from a similar pen. However, there was a nuance which caught my attention. The Google write up, therefore, has more protein on the back ribs. Here’s the passage:

Under Eric Schmidt ads were always in the background. Google was run like an innovation factory, empowering employees to be entrepreneurial through founder’s awards, peer bonuses and 20% time. Our advertising revenue gave us the headroom to think, innovate and create.

I had never thought of Eric Schmidt as a “real” manager. But there was another factoid or assertionoid to be accurate. Here you go:

It turns out that there was one place where the Google innovation machine faltered and that one place mattered a lot: competing with Facebook. Informal efforts produced a couple of antisocial dogs in Wave and Buzz. Orkut never caught on outside Brazil. Like the proverbial hare confident enough in its lead to risk a brief nap, Google awoke from its social dreaming to find its front runner status in ads threatened. Google could still put ads in front of more people than Facebook, but Facebook knows so much more about those people. Advertisers and publishers cherish this kind of personal information, so much so that they are willing to put the Facebook brand before their own. Exhibit A:, a company with the power and clout of Nike putting their own brand after Facebook’s? No company has ever done that for Google and Google took it personally.

Ah, has, ego in the heart of the numerical machine. In my study and work in and around things Googley, the human element never caught my attention. Now I am going to have to think about how a giant corporation reacts when another commercial firm gets trounced in a real life NCAA play off.

One final thought: why are these folks quitting? My hunch is that neither really knows. At age 67 I know what I do, why I do it, how I do it, and for whom I do it. I hope both of these wizards can look beyond their skirmishes with reality.

I would like to run a query for that concept, but as you know, search is not so good unless sponsored by an outfit with enough dough to put “relevant” results before me. I will query “Faustian bargain.”

Stephen E Arnold, March 14, 2012

Sponsored by


Comments are closed.

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta