Thursday, November 21, 2019

Google Shakes Up Its “TGIF”

Steven Levy (Hacker News):

With that, Pichai not only ended an era at Google, he symbolically closed the shutters on a dream held widely in the tech world—that one can scale a company to global ubiquity while maintaining the camaraderie of an idealistic clan.


Though Google didn’t invent the phenomenon of a weekly all-hands, the success of TGIF made it a much-emulated practice. Facebook held its meeting from the start; Zuckerberg would end by shouting “Domination!” Twitter had a version called Tea Time. You’d probably be hard pressed to find a successful startup or unicorn that didn’t have such a session. What made the weekly all-hands so attractive was its power to bind a workforce to a shared mission. The fact that such meetings could continue when the head count reached five figures and more reflected a crazy optimism that, with the right kind of culture, the physics of corporate alienation could be defied.

Now we’ve learned—no surprise—that physics wins. The big problems of these big companies have led employees to more aggressively question their bosses, and in some cases even sabotage them by leaking the secrets shared in these meetings.[…] In earlier times, employees tended to express their gripes with the expectation that leaders and workers were colleagues, too evolved to get hung up on power disparities. Now, with giant corporations worrying more about market dominance and regulators than about feel-good missions, that kumbaya sensibility is gone.

See also: Three Years of Misery Inside Google, the Happiest Company in Tech.

Comments RSS · Twitter

Leave a Comment