Google’s Reported Internal Crisis Highlights Manager Pay, Challenges

A new article in The New York Times offers a startling amount of insight into the upper management of Google—specifically, how many of those senior managers feel that Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, is too methodical in his deliberations about the company’s direction. 

These senior leaders “say Google’s work force is increasingly outspoken,” the article mentions. “Personnel problems are spilling into the public. Decisive leadership and big ideas have given way to risk aversion and incrementalism. And some of those executives are leaving and letting everyone know exactly why.”

If you believe those executives’ perspective, Google faces the same issue as many a hard-charging tech company that’s grown to enormous size: How to maintain startup-caliber innovation and momentum amidst a sprawling bureaucracy. In its early years, Google had unique policies for sparking technologists’ creativity, including its famous “20 percent time”and its Google Labs incubator. But since becoming CEO of Google and its parent company, Alphabet, Pichai has directed his teams to become much more focused, discarding initiatives that don’t roll up into a broader mission or yield concrete results.  

According to the Times, “at least” 36 Google vice presidents have left the company in the past year, out of a total of roughly 400. Some of these executives, the article implies, have moved to companies that are less risk-adverse, where strategic decisions are made more quickly.

If Google is truly at an inflection point, its managers are more important than ever—they’ll determine whether teams are creative and energized, or whether they (and the organization as a whole) stagnate. With that in mind, how much do Google’s managers (specifically, it’s software engineering managers) make? For an answer, we can turn to levels.fyi, which crowdsources its compensation data. 

Managers make quite a bit at Google, to put it mildly, although software engineers at the company are also extremely well-compensated (again, according to levels.fyi):

For years, Google paid out massive salaries (along with generous benefits and perks) in order to attract some of the world’s best technologists—and to keep that talent away from other tech companies with deep pockets. The strategy worked, insofar as the company grew into a giant with enormous revenues and influence. For technologists who want to work on fast-moving projects, though, the money might not be enough to keep them around.