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At 10-year mark, Google's glossy facade shows cracks

At 10-year mark, Google's glossy facade shows cracks

With the fast growth and mega-success of a company comes a down side

Google's transformation from hip startup to corporate giant over the past decade has resulted in some significant cultural changes, and the cracks are starting to appear.

Google's transformation from hip startup to corporate giant over the past decade has resulted in some significant cultural changes, and the cracks are starting to appear.

The meeting left some at the company thinking that their executives were beginning to feel the pressures about the culture they created, insiders said privately.

Indeed, "the management challenges of running a 15,000-person organization are completely different from a 1,000-person firm," Stanford's O'Reilly said.

People who have left the company recently said they felt disposable and easily replaced, and that the Google culture of long days and hard work -- where many employees feel frowned upon if they leave at a reasonable hour -- was not fully appreciated by their managers or Google executives.

To be fair, Google's woes aren't unique to the company. Many of them are the growing pains any startup experiences when it expands as fast as Google does, especially one that prides itself on creating an atmosphere that lures the best and the brightest with freebies and a laid-back vibe.

Cesar Mascaraque, European managing director for Ask.com, left Google after four years early this year, and was there as the company transitioned from having 1,000 employees to tens of thousands. Google has more than 20,000 employees worldwide now.

Mascaraque said it was the expansion of the company that inspired him to leave; he is someone that prefers to work for a company as it transitions from being a startup to a growth company rather than working for a corporation.

"Once the business is 20,000 people, I don't enjoy it," he said. "I like the day-to-day flexibility of being in a smaller company."

Mascaraque said he was part of a team that helped develop the processes and policies that would help Google run its business as a corporation rather than a small company. While setting such a policy is required of a company in order to grow successfully, "the downside is, you take away a lot of the creativity and the flexibility that a smaller company has," he said.

"There's nothing wrong or right about it; that's the nature of the beast," Mascaraque said.

Rob Kniaz, a venture capitalist at Fidelity Ventures, cited a similar reason to Mascaraque's for leaving Google, after being with the company for four years.

Kniaz, who was a product manager on Google's Adsense advertising platform team, left in July. He said he missed the camaraderie of his early days at Google, when "you'd walk into the cafeteria and know more than 85 percent of the people."


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