If you took a sampling of some of the most promising startups on the block, they’re surprisingly likely to be founded by ex-Google employees. I mean, we covered three of them just last week, from Jide Technology. Evan Williams left Google to start Twitter, and later Medium. In addition, there are people like Kevin Systrom who went on to start a now Facebook-owned company1, worth more than $30 billion, after a stint at Google.
One wonders why anyone would want to leave, since Google has been widely considered to be the best place in the world to work, for years. Thing is, some of the smartest people in the world aren’t so much motivated by perks, as they are by scratching their inventor’s itch, and solving difficult problems.
Google is reportedly moving to keep many of these brilliant minds within the fold with Area 120. It’s a startup incubator that will let Google’s employees pursue their personal projects full-time, only with access to the search giant’s pot of gold and other non-financial resources. Right now, it already gives its employees 20% of their working hours back, to work on these personal projects, which is more than can be said for most companies.
Area 120 will be overseen by Don Harrison and Bradley Horowitz, and even though nothing’s set in stone yet, I’ve read that teams will be allowed to work on their projects after simply drafting a business plan. Worst case scenario: the project fails, and Google gets to keep its talent. Best case scenario: it turns out to be very successful, and Google lets the startup “graduate” after a few months, while becoming an investor.
Even though more than 3 out of every 4 startups is doomed for failure, it’s hard to ignore how good it will turn out for Google if they can keep just one Eja Nla2 within their net. Chuh-Ching.
2. Eja Nla is Yoruba phrase, meaning Big Fish.