The Poly Spotlight

March 29th, 2017
How Much Is Too Much?

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WAYMO: Google employees quit after receiving multi-million dollar paychecks and begin their own companies.

By Chloe Vega, Staff Writer

Most people may quit a job because they are unhappy, found a better opportunity or are dissatisfied with their paychecks. However, Google employees left the company for an entirely different reason: they were being paid too much.

For the past six years, Google has pursued advancements in designing driverless cars. They have successfully created autonomous technology, with thousands of self-driven miles logged. In hopes of securing the loyalty of their workers, Google created a rewards system by giving special bonuses and equity in the business to the staff. In 2010, Google began paying their staffers with multi-million dollar checks as part of the new rewards system. Recently, veteran workers started quitting because they no longer needed job security.

After losing a significant number of workers between 2015 and 2016, Alphabet, Google’s parent company, launched Waymo in December of 2015. This new branch focuses specifically on the production of autonomous cars. Alphabet nixed the former rewards system and continues to make advancements in their production of cars with a fresh start.

Recent shortage of staff is not the only problem Waymo has faced in the last year; at the start of 2015, Google employee Anthony Levandowski quit the company and started his own company: Otto. It was quickly purchased by Uber in a deal for 680 million dollars. On Thursday, February 23, Waymo filed a lawsuit against Uber, accusing Levandowski of stealing 14,000 digital files from Waymo before his departure from the company. “Otto and Uber have taken Waymo’s intellectual property so that they could avoid incurring the risk, time and expense of independently developing their own technology. Ultimately, this calculated theft reportedly netted Otto employees over half a billion dollars and allowed Uber to revive a stalled program, all at Waymo’s expense,” Waymo said, in the filing. 

Uber may encounter problems that will stall their advancements against Waymo, but not all competition is diminished. Tesla has also been experimenting with autonomous vehicle technology, and other former Google employees have launched various programs. One former Google executive, Bryan Salesky, began Argo AI, a company which already received a billion dollar investment from Ford Motor Company. Waymo must now move forward and work harder than ever to revive their own program if they wish to pioneer in the expanding field of autonomous technology.

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