Google's Organizational Culture
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Case Code : HROB041
Case Length : 11 Pages
Period : 1996 - 2004
Pub Date : 2004
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Google Inc.
Industry : IT
Countries : USA
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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.
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"We try to provide an environment where people are going
to be happy. I think that's a much better use of money than, say,
hundred-million-dollar marketing campaigns or outrageously inflated salaries."
- Sergey Brin, Google co-founder, in March 2003.1
'So Far So Good'
Google Inc (Google) has been hailed as the one of the most successful Internet
start-up companies. In 2003, it was the most preferred search engine the world
over due to its precision and speed in delivering search results. Apart from the
technological edge it had over its competitors, Google's success was also
attributed to its ability to attract the best talent and retain these employees.
And this was made possible by Google's organizational culture. During the dotcom
boom in the late 1990s, Google was the only company that did not experience any
employee turnover, while all other major tech companies experienced employee
turnover rates of around 20-25%.
Google's work culture became legendary in Silicon Valley. Google was an icon
of success among Internet companies. For many, the company represented the
most successful blend of culture and technology in Silicon Valley.
They felt that Google was successful because it had removed
unnecessary managerial hierarchies and gave its engineers a free
hand to work. However, not every one was impressed with Google's
culture. Some felt that Google would not be able to sustain its
growth with its present culture.
They felt that Google had outgrown its informal culture, and that
informality would, from now on, only lead to confusion among both
employees and customers. Further, Google was also criticized for its
recruitment system and its lack of unity of command at the top
The founders of Google, Larry Page (Larry) and Sergey Brin (Sergey) graduated in
computer science from Stanford University in 1995. In January 1996, Larry and
Sergey began work to extend their summer project work on a search engine.
They wanted to develop a technology that would retrieve appropriate information
from the vast amount of data available on the internet They named their search
engine 'BackRub' because of its ability to identify and analyze 'back links'
that pointed to a given website.
By 1997, BackRub had gained a lot of popularity due to its unique approach to
solving search problems on the Internet. Throughout the first half of 1998,
Larry and Sergey focused on perfecting their technology.
To store huge amounts of data, they bought a terabyte of memory disks (one
trillion bytes equal one terabyte) at bargain prices.
Google's Organizational Culture
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