Nick Bilton thinks Facebook and Google are slow to get mobile — several meanings of ‘get’ intended — because the engineers and managers there are relatively sessile (go look it up):
Nick Bilton via NYTimes.com
I have a theory on why they both have been slow to capitalize on the shift to mobile.
It’s that working at these companies is like going to work on an all-inclusive cruise ship. The analogy is apt in terms of the luxury — and the isolation.
An employee’s day often begins with a comfy shuttle bus whisking him or her to work in Silicon Valley. The buses have Wi-Fi, so laptops are put to work before anyone arrives on the sprawling campuses.
Once there, dozens of free breakfast options await. Free buffet lunches break the monotony of the day. There is free dinner, too. There are free snacks for those peckish between meals. (The stuff that’s bad for you is on the hard-to-reach lower shelves.)
All of this is wonderful for the employees — and of course well deserved — but these perks could be stultifying. At some of these Silicon Valley businesses, there is no reason to leave the office.
There are on-campus gyms. Day care. Massages. Dry cleaning. Car rentals. (At the Google offices, some of the toilets even have heated seats.)
Sadly, this isn’t how the rest of the world works.
Most people actually have to leave their offices to get coffee. While wandering out into the real world, we unfortunates tend to do a lot with our mobile phones.
We look for new restaurants, check in with location-based apps, share short pithy updates about things we’ve seen in this outside world, and take pictures of food and sunsets.
I’m betting that the Googlers and Facebookers don’t see as much outside, since all these perks are meant to keep people working as long as possible.
Perhaps there is something even more powerful at work, here: the self-centered, self-important mindset that is engendered in these world-beater companies tends to encourage a strong tie to the period of time when the companies became successful, which is three to five years ago. These companies — like Microsoft and Yahoo before them — became mired in the past, like mammoths and saber-tooth tigers sinking in the La Brea tar pits.