Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Slimy salesmen and “don’t be evil”

Even if they’re not on the path to total world domination, it’s clear that Eric Schmidt and his grownups are making Google into just another big company.

Before catching up with my friend Matt Asay, I thought I’d see what his company Alfresco is up to. I found this amusing entry on its corporate blog

A good friend of mine recently received this email from a recruiter/headhunter:

My firm has been contracted by Google to help build their emerging enterprise application sales force. Based on your experience and past success, I thought this compelling sales opportunity might appeal to you. Google has an immediate need for someone in your area to fill a growth position. This position offers a highly lucrative compensation package with significant stock options available.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with having a professional salesforce — any publicly traded company would be expected to do so.

Still, my experience with (and research on) high-tech companies is that the shift in culture away from an engineering-driven startup comes with the ascent of the salespeople. Their incentives are set up assuming that only one thing matters: money. Frankly, they pretty much all stretch the truth to close the sale: some stretch a little bit of the truth just a little, and others test how far it can be stretched without falling into an outright verifiable lie. (I’d like to think my OEM sales experience was closer to the former than the latter — with one unfortunate exception, over 17 years our customers felt like they got what they’d been promised).

Again, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to make a buck. Even aging hippie rockstars insist upon it. But to me, the claimed corporate motto “don’t be evil” implies something akin to Ben & Jerry’s or the Body Shop, not Oracle or Sun.

OTOH, Bennett Cohen, Jerry Greenfield and Anita Roddick couldn’t attain (let alone sustain) a $500/share stock price. However, Schmidt & Co. recognize that (as with any other big tech company) there are a lot of bright people that won’t stay at Google unless the stock price continues to grow.

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Yuhong Bao said...

"OTOH, Bennett Cohen, Jerry Greenfield and Anita Roddick couldn’t attain (let alone sustain) a $500/share stock price."
Here, basically Google proved you can make a lot of profit without being evil, which Ben & Jerry and the Body Shop didn't prove.

Joel West said...

Assuming you believe that Google is not and will never be evil, which some consider an open question. (I'm on the fence).