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Take the money and run, Steve Miller once said, and boy, did employees at Google’s self-driving car project take that advice to heart.
According to aÂ BloombergÂ report, the financial incentive to leave the project and hit the bricks was so great, many realized they couldn’t afford not to quit. And, in the grand tradition of pulling up employment stakes, many enjoyed the fact that their departure cost the company big, big bucks.
In many cases, those employees used the money to became Google competitors.
Before the shrinking self-driving car unit was spun off into the Waymo entity back in December (bringing a normal payment structure to the workforce), the amount of compensation was apparently tied to the value of the project itself. Google expected big things from its autonomous driving project, so the value soon reached stratospheric levels.
So great was the potential compensation that long-standing team members realized they’d be foolish not to grab Google’s cash and jump ship to another company. The exodus that began in 2015 was in full force early last year. With brainpower waning and the project’s objective growing increasingly hazy, Google ultimately turned the unit into a self-driving technology company.
Two sources referred to Google’s hefty compensation payouts as, “Fuck you money.”
The payment system, created in 2010, saw some employees given equity in the company and bonuses tied to the unit’s valuation. Each individual cash pile grew over time, especially after Google added a multiplier to its value in 2015. One team member saw a multiplier of 16 placed on four years’ worth of bonuses.
According to sources, several of the payouts amounted to several millions of dollars. Ka-ching!Â Alphabet Inc., the holding company controlling Google (and now Waymo), claimed last year that the payouts were partly responsible for a spike in R&D costs.
Now flush with dough, many of the former executives began work on their own autonomous startupsÂ â€” businesses that now compete with their former employer. Among the castaways isÂ Bryan Salesky, founder of Argo AI. If the name sounds familiar, it should be. Just last week, Ford Motor Company invested $1 billion into his Pittsburgh-based artificial intelligence company.
Google’s generosity has proved a boon to its competitors.
via The Truth About Cars February 14, 2017 at 04:30AM