Real Life at Google. Maybe.

By Deane Barker on June 27, 2007

Life at Google – The Microsoftie Perspective: Microsoft hired an ex-Google employee, pumped him for information, and is internally passing around this intel about how things really are at Google.

The most depressing thing here is about Google’s much-vaunted “20% Time” which is the supposed 20% of your time you get to spend on a self-defined, pet project.

“20% is your benefit and your responsibility.”

In other words, it’s your job to carve out 20% of your work week for a project. If you don’t carve out the time, you don’t get it. Your project needs to be tacitly approved by your manager. Whatever it is, is owned by Google. If you’re organized, you can “save up” your 20% and use it all at once. It’s not unheard of for people to have months and months of “20% time” saved up.

Most people don’t actually have a 20% project. Most managers won’t remind you to start one.

Of course, this is coming from Microsoft, so this could all be anti-Google propaganda.



  1. i wouldn’t count it as MS propaganda. It’s been widely reported for years now that the original, pie-in-the-sky version of the 20% rule has had an increasing number of restrictions and pull-ins. Wasn’t it the first (abysmal, if you recall) release of Google Video that was a 20% project that Larry went apeshit about and basically told the company to stop f’ing around? I would chalk it up to the company maturing and acting like a “grown up”. With the size and competitiveness now, Google simply can’t have (or at least, can’t require or force) thousands of well paid engineers to spend 1 day of each week (nearly one week of every month or 2+ months a year) working on personal or non-related projects. and yeah. i know X number of Google Products have arisen from 20% projects, but I think that can and will still continue to happen, even if the 20% somehow gets dwindled down into 10% or even pure skunkworks projects.

  2. It goes to say that a Well paying Job varies conversely as an Easy going job… (unless easy-going means easily canned).

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