Monday, July 5, 2004

To fight Microsoft, Google arms itself with PhDs: "Hey, it's not rocket science. And it's not brain surgery. But if your background is in either, you're welcome to take a shot and apply at Google. The company's employees include a former rocket scientist and a former brain surgeon."

"With a PhD-centred culture, Google's co-founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, have assembled the high-technology industry's most unorthodox portfolio of human capital since Microsoft Corp. began intense recruiting of computer science majors at top undergraduate schools in the 1980s.

"Microsoft has 56,000 employees, but its research group, with 700, is separate. Google has 1,900 employees, and no separate research group, so all 1,900, effectively, are charged to 'boldly go where no one has gone before' (Google's words)."

"Working in Google's favour is its practice of putting new PhDs to work immediately in the exact areas where they have been trained — in systems, architecture and artificial intelligence. Google, the company, may falter, but Google, the human resources experiment, is unlikely to be the cause.

"Microsoft has yet to disavow old templates for hiring. Its chief college recruiter, Roby, says that among computer science PhDs, 'it's less likely to find someone with the desire to work on projects that will ship every 24 or 36 months.'

"Her intention is to convey the fast pace of product-development cycles at Microsoft. But the notion that software is released at intervals measured in years, burned on a CD-ROM, stamped with a new version number and stuffed in a box, is as relevant to Google's continuous Web site improvements as a punch card."

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