Comparison of Internet searches for "Google interview questions" vs. "Microsoft interview questions."
Source: Google Insights for Search, December 2008 to November 2009
Tags: analytics, |
Posted by Admin
1/18/2009 3:39 PM |
Class, here is an organizational issue that we will be
discussing this semester. How can economics help explain individual
behavior suggest as hiring or resigning. In particular, we will talk
about incentives and informational asymmetries.
The article is from TechCrunch,
one of my favorite tech sites. Given the importance of this topic for
class, I have reproduced a good portion of the article below. For the
complete article, you must go here.
In 2008 Google HR set up a private Google Group to ask former
employees why they left the company. We’ve been forwarded what appears
to be authentic posts to the thread by a number of ex-Googlers, which
we reprint below minus identifying information other than their first
The thread shows a brutal honesty about what it’s like to work at
Google, at least from the point of view of employees who were unhappy
enough to resign. Top amongst the complaints is low pay relative to
what they could earn elsewhere, and disappearing fringe benefits seemed
to elevate the concern. Other popular gripes - too much bureaucracy,
poor management, poor mentoring, and a hiring process that took months.
A few of the posts are more positive, and frankly there isn’t a whole lot here that you don’t see in other big companies.
One message stands out though in most of the posts - employees
thought they were entering the promised land when they joined Google,
and most of them were disappointed. Some of them wondered if it meant
they were somehow lacking. One person sums it all up nicely:
Those of us who failed to thrive at Google are faced with some
pretty serious questions about ourselves. Just seeing that other people
ran into the same issues is a huge relief. Google is supposed to be
some kind of Nirvana, so if you can’t be happy there how will you ever
be happy? It’s supposed to be the ultimate font of technical resources,
so if you can’t be productive there how will you ever be productive?
Many people have criticized Google’s (GOOG) management for losing market share in China to local firm Baidu (BIDU)
after initially taking a commanding share in the browser market. In
surveys my firm conducted with Chinese youth in Shanghai between the
ages of 18 and 24, over 80% said that they used Baidu as their primary
search engine with Google a far second at just under 20%. Google’s poor
faring over the last year has caused a lot of analysts to lump them
with eBay (EBAY) and other internet failures in China, with many arguing that foreign internet companies can never do well here.
Could Google collapse in China much as eBay did, even after huge
initial leads over local Chinese players? Will Google’s stock price be
affected like eBay’s because it has been unable to capitalize on
China’s booming internet culture, in which nearly 140 million Chinese
connect to the net? What will happen with Rupert Murdoch’s Myspace (NWS) foray into China?
Most American critics have argued that Google has stalled in China
because they censored their Chinese language searches. In Davos, Google
Co-Founder Sergey Brin stated "On a business level, that decision to
censor... was a net negative."
However, in our surveys and interviews, censorship was not one of
the top 10 reasons that respondents said contributed to a preference
for Baidu over Google. In fact, most Chinese did not even realize that
there was a censorship difference between Google’s English and Chinese
versions. It seems that Google’s censorship decision has been more of a
hot topic for foreign critics than by Chinese end users themselves.
I am going to buck the trend of most analysts and argue that Google
has a huge opportunity in China to retake market share from Baidu if it
can get the right management team in place, delegate authority to them,
and localize services. I have also argued previously
that Baidu is spending too much time distracted with the international
markets than shoring up its domestic positions. If Google does not
delegate enough to a local management team and develop China-specific
services, and if Baidu continues to focus on the wrong revenue
generating opportunities, then Google will fail as eBay did in China.
Google’s Micromanagement and Oddball Hiring Practices
Google’s problems in China result more from their bizarre hiring
practices for a large MNC than in their censorship. In interviews we
recently conducted with senior Google managers in China, we found that
they believe that Google’s slow hiring practices (where Google
co-Founder Page personally has to write off on every job offer)
hindered Google China in bringing enough talent on board early on.
Without the team on the ground, Google floundered while Baidu was able
to keep up with fast-changing shifts in the marketplace. But the team
is starting to get settled – and it is a very bright and talented group
based on what I have found in discussions.
My first suggestion for Google – it is absurd a company Google’s
size to have every job offer be personally approved by such senior
management in the US. Google’s senior management needs to learn how to
delegate authority more. As Google expands in China, it will have to
continue to bring the right talent on board. It will not be able to do
so unless they change their hiring practices that are way too slow. I
know very talented people who either decided not to try to join Google
after initial interviews or refused to even go into the interview
process because of what they felt was a drawn out and absurd process.
Being able to recruit and retain top talent anywhere but especially
in China is one of the most important, if not the most important, items
an MNC needs to focus on in China.
One of the reason’s respondents to our surveys said they switched
from Google to Baidu was because there was a time around Baidu’s IPO
when Google suddenly became slow or difficult to connect to, while
Baidu never had those problems. This happened to me too and was quite
But in the aftermath of the Taiwan earthquake, where Google ran the
whole time, we have seen that Google is now one of the more stable
American portals. For my personal email, I have stopped using Yahoo (YHOO) and Hotmail (MSFT)
and switched to Gmail, not because it is a more powerful system (which
it is) but simply because the access speeds are much faster. Half the
time I still cannot get onto Hotmail and Yahoo goes in and out.
I am not sure how these portals structure their servers and the
such, but it seems that Google has figured out the hardware structure
necessary to be able to compete from a speed level with Chinese portals
like a Sina (SINA) or Sohu (SOHU).
The main thing we learned through our surveys is that the service and product offerings are paramount to Chinese internet users.
20% of survey respondents said that they used Baidu because of the
MP3 search function and other stickiness factors – such as virtual
currency – that keep people coming to the portal. While Google has some
awesome services for the English speaking market, their Chinese
services pale in comparison to Baidu’s. This is something that Google
needs to remedy and which Yahoo did by teaming up with Alibaba where
the management team under Jack Ma is close to the consumers.
Foreign internet companies need to understand that China’s nearly 140 million internet users who actively engage in e-commerce are in itself a total market.
Internet companies need to develop services, products and processes
that target Chinese netizens directly rather than just bring what
worked in the US to China. The market is too big here to consider China
an auxiliary market as smaller countries are. New systems need to be
put in place to compete with the top Chinese internet firms. Although
they have no ADRs, for instance, I believe QQ is hands down one of the
best run Chinese firms.
Many critics have said that Google has failed in China. I agree with
this but not for the reasons that most critics highlight – censorship.
While that is a sexy topic amongst many Americans, Google has failed
for much more prosaic reasons. They should learn from eBay’s failure or
Yahoo’s experience where too little management control was ceded to the
team on the ground.
If Google can change some of its outdated practices, it will do very
well in China and expect its stock to continue to rise. If it does not
and if Baidu can focus better, then Baidu just might give Google a run
for its money.