back to article Google: We avoid hiring too many smart people...

Google vice president Bradley Horowitz has indicated the web giant avoids hiring too many talented minds in an effort to keep the rest of the tech world from going to ruin. The setting was the annual Supernova tech pow-wow in San Francisco, California, where Harvard professor and Berkman Center for Internet & Society co- …


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  1. Eugene Goodrich
    Paris Hilton

    Important to have the people you want elsewhere

    [[[it's important that we not hire these guys. It's better for the ecosystem to have an honest industry, as opposed to aggregating all this talent at Google.'"]]]

    Setting aside the honesty-talk - because it seems _everyone_ usually points out how honest they are and you hear very little from people about what spinning cheats they are, have been, or are about to be - it makes perfect sense that you want successful people out in the industry that makes money without directly competing with you. Those are your customers, and you want them to be 1. dripping with cash and 2. thinking in ways that lead them to buy things from you.

    Paris, because you bet she fits into something I just said...

  2. sandman

    Fellow Travellers

    "it's important that we not hire these guys. It's better for the ecosystem to have an honest industry, as opposed to aggregating all this talent at Google.'"

    During the Cold War the terms for ideologically motivated Communist sympathisers in the West ranged from "fellow travellers" to "useful fools".

    I'm obviously not making in any comparison between Google and the Soviet Union, no, definitely not your honour.

  3. Josco

    I'm not applying for a job then....

    Imagine the feeling of disappointment a new employee must feel if they are avoiding employing too many smart guys.

    "Am I here because I'm thick?"

    What about having Google on your CV, will a prospective employer think along similar lines?

    1. Ian Michael Gumby
      Black Helicopters

      Well since you brought it up...

      ... Thickness sounds like a personal problem.

      The truth is that Google doesn't want to hire the 'best and brightest' because they'll get more from Google than they put in. (If you're not 'thick' you can figure that one out...)

      When I was in High School, I was working for a small computer seller. One of their customers was an MIT grad who ran the family electrical supply company. He had an interesting theory about hiring the 'best and brightest'.

      He believed that he would be better off hiring the B students over the A students. Why? Because they cost less money, and would work harder. So that the end result was that they were very productive and relatively more efficient that the over achievers. There actually is some truth to his logic.

      With respect to Google, I would also think that those who are 'deemed the best and brightest' might actually peek behind the green curtain and see the 'truth' of that which is Goo-gle.

      A little black copter because the real 'best and brightest' don't want to be found. ;-)

  4. mrlumpy

    I'm not too smartz

    Hey google, give me a job on mega-bucks, that will help the rest of the tech community from getting too smartz.

  5. Anonymous Cowherd 3


    This sounds like the normal hubris of any wildly successful company.

    Picking talent is like picking winners in the stock market. You can never accurately guess who is going to invent what and change the world. The most reliable rule of thumb is that the ones who will are unlikely to go and work for a company which has already established itself and where all of the fortunes have been made.

    Google picking up enough of the best talent to be unbalancing to the wider market is as unlikely as Microsoft recruiting the founders of Google in the mid-90s.

  6. Svantevid
    Thumb Down



    "'They're very Google people that have the right philosophies'

    (...) Read that again. It's worth it."


    Oh yes it is... he reminds me of some Papal legate pointing out a single "good Christian soul" amongst hundreds of heretics marked for mass burnings, or a Communist commisar saving "a good comrade" from wagons being sent to gulags.

    Same "he's good, that means he's has our mentality/set of values" way of thinking.

  7. The Vociferous Time Waster

    Important people who like you

    If there are successful and important people out there in the industry who support you then don't hire them because their support is then devalued, just leave them out there fighting your corner for free and hire the smart people out of Microsoft instead.

  8. Anonymous Coward


    I really want to throw up, reading to this crap! Google, honest!?

    Where's the vomit icon?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Yeah, right.

    If Google aren't hiring all the brightest people, it's because so many of the brightest people don't want to work there.

  10. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Up

    Amazon & Promises

    A promise is not an absolute guarantee, it is a demonstration of intent or will. If I promise my daughter I'll pick her up from school, then get into a car crash, I haven't broken my promise - merely failed to carry it out. Neither have I lied if I can imagine circumstances under which the promise can't be carried out.

    Only a lawyer* or would argue otherwise. It is refreshing that Amazon are capable of making statements without consulting those parasites first. Sony, for instance, certainly aren't.

    * or a blogger

  11. Captain TickTock

    Truthy perhaps?

    "The management at Google, in my experience, is extremely truthful"

    Mine is the one with a halo on a stick poking up out of the collar.

  12. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Not much use

    Smart people tend to be overrated anyway. Most organisations don't know what to do with them (us?) as they usually don't want solutions that need the brain the size of a planet to understand and maintain. What they want are reasonably intelligent, educated and relaible types who will do what they say, when they say and produce mature, complete, documented and tested stuff that fits in with all their other stuff.

    If you drop a smart-ass into this mix, they are frequently disruptive: either through having oversized egos that consider their co-workers to be some kind of pond life (though to be fair, some are), having short attention spans that don't finish projects or get bored and start adding stuff that wasn't asked for needed or even a good idea. They also tend to get the "interesting" work, which should be shared around equally - or at least used as an incentive for the whole team.

    As for the tantrums, I can just start to hear one kicking off now. Gotta go to get a ringside seat ...

  13. Anonymous Coward

    This explains it

    I wondered why they had never given me a call

    If they really meant that little piece of tosh then surely it would be more in their interests to hire these folk, brain wash them into being "Google people" and then set them loose on the ecosystem?

  14. Somerset John

    I don't agree

    Sorry, I cannot agree with the last bit of this article.

    Amazon really screwed up over this issue, no argument there. But their promise not to do it again is fine.

    The point that someone can order them to delete stuff is crap. If the order, from whatever source, is a valid legal order then Amazon is not deleting material, the originator of the order is, using Amazon as a facilitator. If such an order is not a valid legal order, and Amazon carries it out, then it's open season on Amazon, they have a duty, in my opinion, to protect their client base.

    1. Gaz 6

      I don't agree with your disagreement

      They should not have this ability PERIOD. That is BS, why would they be able to reach into your device and delete your stuff? Why, I'll tell you why..because they don't think or treat the stuff as "yours" - it's "theirs", and you are just lucky enough that they let you use it.

  15. blackworx

    You're right

    That *was* worth reading again

  16. James Hughes 1

    Register commentards...

    Should be plenty of prospective Google fodder here then.

    Oh, damn.....

  17. Anonymous Coward


    It just occurred to me from reading this article that the word "Google" can now be used as

    a noun, verb or adjective:

    "Google" = noun (The thing itself)

    "to Google" = verb (Doing word)

    "very Google people" = adjective (Describing word)

    The only other word I can think of with the same flexibility is


    I wonder if that is significant?

    1. lpopman

      titular embellishment

      I always thought that "Fuck" was the all-encompassing swiss army knife of words...

      "Alright you fuckers. Time to fuck off. Fuck all the fuckers into the back of the fucker, so we can fuck off for a pint!"


  18. Captain TickTock
    Paris Hilton

    As Groucho Marx said...

    "I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member"

    Paris - now where's my black permanent marker?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    judging from Google London..

    Knowing 1 or 2 senior people that left Google Europe in last few years ( all said it was suddenly "just another" bureaucratic company) and the few I knew who joined ( no comment ) and the inability of Google to repeat their commercial success outside of "search" in western economies (China/Russia etc are failures), I think the Goggle employee was more than right about not hiring smart people.

    It might just be a 1 hit wonder that could fall as quickly as it rose - I'm not wishing it but it really has become the "household of arrogance" about data.

    In the UK, Tesco are considering using data from their customer fidelity cards to form part of a customers Credit Rating (Tesco are moving inro banking).

    Imagine what Google is doing...

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Google aren't that smart anyway

    To be honest, Google employees aren't actually that smart. I've interviewed a lot of people leaving the Borg and I've yet to find a C++ coder who is actually that great, I also tend to find their core search people aren't that good either. The problem for them is that, post IPO, they don't offer that competitive an employment package any more, so the only thing going for them is the way they treat their staff, and that has been gradually going downhill for quite some years now.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    May I proffer a thought

    it would be perhaps a little more genuine had the person pushing this warped creed, given up their job in Google, you know, because it would be more utilitarian of them and in keeping with their own personal philosophy.

    What tends to happen is people, hire below them, so if you want a job then you often have to come in low, to get through. Personally I just hire the best I can find, but I know most don't.

    Information Technology on the whole eats itself from within, which is why most of the good ones end up becoming consultants, there is very little point in working for someone if you are a developer or administrator it is just a road to frustration, if you think you will actually be judged on your technical skills. Instead if you are political with not much tech knowledge, it is quite an interesting path.

    As an experiment from now for a week or so, who knows you might enjoy it, if you are an employee, become like the users and management and you will see life is so much simpler, and you will appreciate life more.

    Start to arrange meetings, moan about people not getting there on time. Bring up petty things, and make them sound important and central to the organisation as a whole.

    Shift blame around onto other departments, who you invite only at the last minute (and if you can do it on a reschedule where they have another meeting that just ends at that moment yours starts, even better).

    Give out a lot of praise for really simple things that other departments do, and your department needs to have done. Make sure you get deadlines for anything you want, and be good about chasing them up.

    It is incredibly empowering, and it demonstrates very quickly the games that generally get played on IT empployees. For extra points see if you can off shore another department, accounting, or marketing would be good ones. There are lots of sites now that offer all the other department skill sets, from places like China and India, they have seen the light. Any professional service can be off shored, and most are simpler to do than IT, so they have gone there.

  22. unitron

    Soon to be overheard at a MENSA meeting...

    "I'm so smart that Google wouldn't hire me!"

  23. Anonymous Coward

    @Eddie Edwards - No, your "promises" are just worthless

    And I'm guessing the people that know you (like your daughter) regard them as such.

    OTHER people make promises that can be counted upon, and are regarded better. :)

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Self interest

    Just maybe the Gooogle engineer wants a bigger share of the remaining pie, because more smart Google employees shrink the pie faster, eh!

  25. Phil A
    Thumb Up

    Too many brains?

    I sort of agree with what Google are saying here. If they hire all of the best people, they are all going to come with an ego package and end up fighting with each other rather than producing. Much better to have one or two geniuses and a lot of productive people who do the real work. The problem is picking the correct geniuses...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    competitive edge?

    That's very nice of them.


    When you have a company running pretty much the entire internet, you would expect them to want to have only the best working for them, non?

    Same with Microsoft, because they have their software on every PC on the planet and that carries with it some level of responsibility. Of course, Microsoft's way of luring you in is to promise you lots of money (because most clever people with half an ounce of morals don't care to work for them), as their name is automatically associated with the "man" sticking it to the little guy.

    Google (still) offers the opportunity to be part of its company culture, and feed off the strength of the Google brand in anything else you want to do later in your life. They shouldn't risk associating their brand with mediocrity like Microsoft has done, because it will be the end of their culture as well.

    Though I guess what is really happening here, is they're trying to fend off the upcoming antitrust case from when they had a deal with Apple not to steal each other's employees.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is odd

    some people think the best have inflated egos, where normally it is not the case.

    Instead others get jealous, so the bad ones and mid level ones tend to be the troublemakers inside of IT, they are the ones that eat it from inside, it is because they struggle and it makes them lash out.

    The best know the value of the code and the effort it takes to gain the knowledge required, and they normally have sidelines anyhow, so they not interested in over performing for ego or interest value, they have other outlets anyhow.

    But, yes eventually the best go into consulting. Often what is left is the mid level ego monsters both prone to jealousy and with an inflated ego.

  28. Anonymous Coward


    I do see the logic (or I've drunk the coolade)

    Google is dependant on a vibrant internet economy. If all the 'web is great' people were at Google, then the Rupert Murdoch's of this world will be shaping the nature of the Web. ickkkk! <feeling unclean>

    You see it takes a really smart person to figure that out! heh!

  29. RiverOfLife

    The monumental, self-appointed, smug, arrogance of it all ...

    I don't work for Google, have never worked for Google ... and now I have yet more reasons why not to.

    They clearly believe and presume that all the so-called, self-appojnted "smart" people would actually want to work for Google! Well, I can tell them that they are very, very wrong ... Google takes you in - and then they spits you right back out again.

    You know, the thing about arrogance and the belief that you have the world in your pocket ... is that you don't. Really not - not even Google.

    Arrogance is a blindness to your own weaknesses and to the strengths of others - which almost certainly leads to a massive downfall. Why work for a company which is likely to screw up big sometime real soon now?

    Remember Icarus. And .. er ... Vista :)

  30. ChrisInAStrangeLand

    I've heard that before.

    Never ever ever. Never ever never ever ever. Never ever ever... again.

    But I like Bezos. He admitted that he had made a mistake and then did the right thing, as opposed to being forced to do the right thing, then apologizing for doing it.

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