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Creating a startup culture within Google and Microsoft

When I left Microsoft at the exit interview I told them that the major reason I chose a startup over them is because I am an overachiever.

I was expecting that they'd try to drill into that and figure out how to keep the overachievers at Microsoft... they didn't. They HR person told me that I wasn't alone.

Big tech companies never figured out how to keep talented engineers on staff. They recognize some of them as "principal architects" or something similar, but it's generally given to people who were there for a while. With the current pay packages of base and stock options they can't possibly give everyone an opportunity to earn millions so they are OK targeting 66th percentile of talent.

I think to resolve this issue the tech industry has to look at the financial industry. Through bonuses and partnerships even if you join a well established firm you still have a chance at fame and wealth. Splitting the company into smaller units and tying their pay to performance of a product is one way. Of course some of that will face resistance from engineers that just want a reliable and steady job.

I think the solution is a hybrid: one part of the enterprise is run like a utility company and the other part of the company is an incubator. The conditions in the incubator should mimic the ones in the startup - lower base pay, smaller teams and a large bonus if the product catches on.

For now Microsoft and Google try to get the overachievers by buying companies and doing some great campus recruiting, but this well also runs dry aver a while. I know some companies now that are openly against getting acquired by slow giants and some of the best college recruits are raising money instead of joining the corporate ladder.

PS: the topic was brought on by reading this fine blog post:
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