There is no honor in Silicon Valley.
In an effort to finally bring its self-driving car to market, Google, back in September, scaled down production of its quirky autonomous car, and rebranded the entire project to Waymo. Finally, the program seems to have settled in and found its footing – but it comes at a big cost.
According to Bloomberg, a number of leadership changes and an overall talent suck was due in part to an unusual compensation system that would give big payouts to people based on the project’s value. At least two people close to the company have called it, "F-you money."
Many of the veteran employees working on the project reportedly "didn’t need the job security anymore" based on the outrageous payouts. Even Alphabet Inc’s Chief Financial Officer, Ruth Porat, highlighted the bonuses to explain an increase in overall expenses back in 2015, which rose 14 percent to $6.6 billion.
The costs were "primarily driven by R&D expense, particularly affected by expenses resulting from project milestones in Other Bets established several years ago,” said Porat, according to a transcript.
The system was implemented in 2010 soon after Google had launched its first self-driving prototype. It would essentially give staffers bonuses and equity in the project, which was then multiplied after several years. All of the employees that remained received a huge cash stipend based on the overall valuation of the brand. At least one member of the project is reported to have had a multiplier of 16 applied to bonuses and equity they had amassed in a four year period.
Still, Waymo is moving forward with its autonomous vehicle project. Recently the company partnered with automakers like Chrysler and Honda in development of fully autonomous vehicles, which will begin testing later in the year.