“Don’t drink the Kool-Aid!”
So warned one of my colleagues on Tuesday, when Google workers arrived to install our lavish new snack cart, just hours after our CEO had emailed us to say the acquisition was complete, and then their executives had emailed us to say welcome and warn of headcount reductions.
There was, and is, a great deal of fear and uncertainty at what used to be DoubleClick. But four days in, I’m learning to stop worrying and love the Googlebomb.
For one thing, Google is making it very clear that it has no intention of decimating DoubleClick:
- The day after the purchase went through, Google not only gave DoubleClick’s New York employees access to its gourmet cafeteria, but also began running shuttle buses to take our San Francisco employees to lunch at their San Francisco offices — not a one-day stunt, but an ongoing interim solution until the San Francisco people can be moved into Google’s offices there. There was a fancy catered cocktail party in our New York office on Wednesday night, and Wednesday also saw the arrival of a huge number of vast, mysterious pallets that turned out to contain videoconferencing flatscreens and cameras for every New York conference room.
- On Wednesday, the head of engineering for North America spoke to all of us in the engineering department, assuring us that valuable people would be valued and that he had no specific number of jobs he was seeking to cut, and could in fact choose to cut none. We were also told that our management would have significant say in the process. I know that we’ve got a strong advocate for documentation — my old boss — involved in the discussions, and I feel pretty confident that we’ll come out just fine (and that even if we don’t, I am relatively low down on the hit list).
- On Thursday, Sergey Brin came in to talk. He was wearing Crocs with no socks, which is what you get to do when you’re worth $5.8 billion. I asked a question during the Q&A, about keeping the good aspects of DoubleClick’s culture. Brin is the richest man I have ever spoken to. He came across as basically a lot like the Russian Jews I went to middle school with, if they were worth $5.8 billion.
- Starting next week, there will be learning sessions given by Google employees. I’m signed up to learn about search, maps and ads.
- Today they sent out non-disclosure agreements and similar stuff for all of us to sign and send back by inter-office mail. (That’s paper, in case you’re wondering.)
These are simply not the kinds of things you do if you’re planning to cut big numbers. Nor is my position the least bit redundant: I’m the sole tech writer on one of our leading products, which has a big release on the way. And I know I have the support of my managers.
That being the case, I am doing my best to set aside whatever fears I have and embrace this exciting change. During the Q&A, Brin said we should think of ourselves as Google employees, and so I shall. Tonight, on the way home, I picked up The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture, by John Battelle.
I’m excited about this whole thing. The uncertainty about job security is difficult, but that will be over by April 4, and I’m confident it will turn out all right. The uncertainty about everything else — benefits, career direction, etc. — will take longer to pass, but I will be a part of one of the greatest, most innovative, most successful companies in the world as I figure it all out.