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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Google’s Car Project Losing Top Talent Because Of Too Much "F-You" Money!

#GoogleCar Project Losing Top Talent Because Of Too Much "F-You" Money!  Google has been seeing its top talent fleeing out of their autonomous car project for many reasons, including strategy doubts or leadership change,  but the weirdest one is because they got paid lots and lots of money.

The tech giant recruited the first batch of employees in its autonomous car project with an unusual compensation scheme that awarded them with huge amounts of money, based on the project’s value.

Bloomberg reports that by late 2015, the numbers became so big that several veteran employees decided that they didn’t need the job security anymore and instead opened themselves to other opportunities. Two sources familiar with the matter called it “F-you money”.

The unusual payout system started back in 2010, when Google unveiled its first self-driving vehicle. The point was to tie the employees’ pay to the performance of the project, instead of Google’s own money. That included cash salaries of course, but some of the people working on the project were given bonuses and equity in the business as well, with the rewards being set aside in a special entity.

After several years, Google applied a multiplier to the value of the awards and paid some or all of it out, with the multiplier based on periodic valuations of the department according to the same sources.

The precise values that the division was measured by and caused the bonuses to become impressively big are not known, with the sources talking about a large multiplier being applied to the compensation packages in late 2015, resulting even in multi-million dollar payments in some cases. It is said that one employee had a multiplier of 16 applied to bonuses and equity amassed over four years.

These big payouts are considered to be a strong factor in Google’s talent drain as these came after key milestones were reached and at a time when rivals were recruiting heavily, even though the ultimate goal of the project -a working fully autonomous vehicle- remains years away.

Departures from Google’s car division increased in 2016, with some of the employees being dissatisfied with the pace of progress and had doubts about the new head of the division John Krafcik, while others just wanted to start their own autonomous vehicle companies.

It’s worth noting that Chris Urmson, previous head of Google’s autonomous project, is now working on a startup while other early staff members left to create Otto, an autonomous trucking company that was purchased by Uber. Another former Google exec, Bryan Salesky founded Argo AI which recently got a $1 billion investment from Ford.

Last December, Google detached its car business and made it a standalone unit called Waymo. The payout system was also replaced by a more uniform pay structure that treats all the employees the same.


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