February 12, 2007
@ 07:55 PM

Nick Carr has a blog post entitled Googlegate in North Carolina where he writes

North Carolina's Senate Finance Committee is hastily arranging hearings for next week on the state's use of tax incentives to lure businesses, as public outrage mounts over disclosures that Google was granted as much as a quarter billion dollars in secret tax breaks for a plant expected to employ approximately 200 workers. There's no word yet on whether any Google officials will be asked to testify.
The Googlegate controversy is unlikely to abate any time soon. Troubling new details of the secret deal-making continue to emerge. Today's Charlotte Observer features a long article describing how public officials leaned on some local residents to sell their homes to make way for the Google plant. The mayor of the town of Lenoir, Davis Barlow, and the county commissioner, Tim Sanders, were among the officials who, according to the paper, went "door-to-door on behalf of the Internet giant Google. In some cases, officials returned to homes four or five times. Barlow and Sanders effectively used the personal touch, avoiding a drawn-out public debate that Google was secretly telling them would scuttle the deal. That personal touch enabled some residents to feel comfortable in selling their property."

This reminds me of a comment I once heard about why the deal makers at GOOG are such hardball players. It goes back to the Google Founders' Awards which were intended to be a way to significantly reward people who add value to the company's bottom line.  Since this award is worth millions of dollars, there is a lot of stiff competition and I'd heard that it ended up the sales folks, acquisitions experts and other deal makers who end up as the primary contenders for the award.

I guess it makes sense, which other job functions can say that they directly save or benefit the company a quarter of a billion dollars on the bottom line? Not the lead developer of Google Calendar or the PM who wrote the spec for Google Base, that's for sure. :)

Unfortunately, when you put millions of dollars in incentives in front of your employees you shouldn't be surprised if they start cutting ethical corners to make things happen. Even CEOs and CFOs aren't immune from this which is why we have Sarbanes Oxley today.


Monday, February 12, 2007 9:06:17 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
actually sarbanes oxley is an attempt to:

1) line the pockets of the big accounting firms

2) make joe stockbuyer "feel" safe, irrespective of reality
Monday, February 12, 2007 11:59:04 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
While there are always people who will exploit the system for their own greeds, the idea is actually pretty neat. You award the people (and hopefully engineer) who create a successfully product with a large sum of money, just as the way you would buy from a start-up company. The amount is of course considerably less, but that is compensated by the job security the company has already guaranteed. Not a bad idea.

I don't know all of those who actually won the award but it has been given to some brilliant engineer (i.e. Niniane Wang, a formerly Softie herself). And it also gives you the impression that the company is willing to share its wealth with the employer.

One of the reason there are so much grief in MSFT is that the executives got the perks while the engineers are not earning their due. I don't know how much of it is true, but after reading a bit of Mini you get the sense that employees are treated better at Google. That's how you generate the morale in the team.

And I don't know how you compare it with the notorious Ship'it award at MSFT. But while the GFA certainly sounds better, I believe the GFA also carries some monetary values while the Ship It is just a trophy. Which one would you choose? Go figure....
Monday, February 19, 2007 4:52:19 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
You know, quarter of a billion dollars is an even larger number when you put it in red. ;-)
Tomer Chachamu
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