GOOGLE'S SELF DRIVING CAR UNIT, now known as Waymo, has been shedding staff like no one's business and it turns out it's because they were being paid too much.
When Google set up the business, it offered staff wage system based around the company's value. Now, that figure has got so large, several employees have decided they can afford to do something else instead and have, to put it bluntly, sodded off.
Google Insiders have referred to this phenomenon as "F-You Money". Which is also likely to be the title of Jay-Z's next album.
The idea was that talent got a basic salary, but were given bonuses and stock, in trust, which were then multiplied as the company grew in size. And then people bailed. It's an uncharacteristic example of Google not thinking it through.
Waymo, as it is today, is a more "conventional" company, which pays salaries and generally is a bit less "out there", falling outside Google and into parent company Alphabet, and collaborating with auto companies, rather than trying to reinvent four wheels.
But the damage has been done. Google created a situation where risk-taking talent were able to comfortably jump ship at the crucial moment that rivals started to emerge, particularly with tech coming to the auto industry, rather than vice versa.
Bloomberg reports that staff started leaving during 2015 and the pace accelerated in 2016 with operating expenses rising 14 per cent as execs cashed out. One exec is said to have earned a 16x multiplier on what was one of a number of multi-million payouts.
All this, before the Google Car had really proved itself or come close to making any money back for the company.
Meanwhile, many of the new names on the block in terms of autonomous vehicles were started in part with money from Google payouts. These include Otto, the self-drive truck that's now part of Uber and Argo AI, which has just scored $1bn funding from Ford. µ
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