Tuesday, May 7, 2024

"Andreessen Horowitz partner says Google is an ‘amazing example’ of employing people in ‘BS jobs’: ‘Half the white-collar staff probably does no real work’" (GOOG)

From Fortune's Data Sheet, May 7: 

Google might be among corporate America’s favorite success stories, but some people aren’t convinced Big Tech is operating as efficiently as it could be. Indeed, according to one Silicon Valley insider, half the white-collar workers at the tech behemoth aren’t even doing “real work.”

The idea that Big Tech overhires talent to have them on hand for future projects—and ensure they stay out of the hands of rivals—isn’t a new one.

Last year individuals told Fortune they had been “talent penned”: hired by technology companies on six-figure salaries “to do nothing” except complete a 10-minute task every now and again. The sources Fortune spoke to said some hires use their weekdays to learn how to scuba dive, while managers told off the candidates for asking too many questions.

And it seems some companies are also retaining their bloated headcount with people who don’t actually help drive the company forward. In fact in some cases, their presence actually holds back innovation.

That’s according to David Ulevitch, general partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, who said a “bunch of people” in large corporations are working “BS jobs.”

Google is an “amazing example” of such a company, he told Emily Sundberg’s “Feed Me” Substack newsletter.

“Anyone who works in a 10,000+ person or larger white-collar job company knows that a bunch of the people can probably be let go tomorrow and the company wouldn’t really feel the difference, maybe it’d even improve with less people inserting themselves into things,” began the partner at the VC giant also known as a16z, which has backed the likes of Airbnb, Facebook, Instagram, and Roblox.

Another issue with “BS jobs” is that it detracts from shareholder returns, he explained: “Those people aren’t just being useless (and being coddled to think useless jobs actually matter—they don’t), but they are also taking money away from the rest of the workforce’s retirement programs.

“Google is an amazing example of this. I don’t think it’s crazy to believe that half the white-collar staff at Google probably does no real work,” he continued. “The company has spent billions and billions of dollars per year on projects that go nowhere for over a decade, and all that money could have been returned to shareholders who have retirement accounts. So real people actually lose out when BS jobs exist.”

Google did not immediately respond to Fortune’s request for comment.

Goggle’s projects
Google may certainly beg to differ. In December the Alphabet-owned company integrated its quickly released Bard chatbot into a new service named Gemini, an AI model trained to behave in humanlike ways. The rollout will unfold in phases, with less sophisticated versions of Gemini called Nano and Pro being immediately incorporated into Google’s AI-powered chatbot Bard and its Pixel 8 Pro smartphone....