This article originally appeared on our sister site Charged
Google’s ambitious plans for autonomous car technology have seen various obstacles the past year or two: its team members are quitting left and right for one reason or another. Well, according to Bloomberg, one of the reasons was that early staffers got paid too much.
Google’s old compensation system
At first glance, it doesn’t make much sense. People quit because they got paid too much? That seems a bit oxymoronic, doesn’t it? But if you think about it, it actually explains quite a lot.
Apparently, early staffers in the team had an unusual compensation system in which people were paid based on the project’s value. Given the enormous size and potential of Google’s autonomous driving project, those at the top within the team were paid handsomely. The problem was by 2015, the amount that they were getting paid was so big that they did not need the job security anymore. So these veterans ventured out for other opportunities – whether it was a start-up that guaranteed more freedom or another field that was of more interest to them.
According to Bloomberg, the old system was first introduced almost a decade ago in 2010, and it was supposed to act as an incentive. The more value your project brings, the more you get paid. But clearly, it didn’t work out very well.
Another factor was that because of this bizarre compensation system, the cost of the original car project became prohibitively expensive. That led to more scrutiny from the CFO of its parent company Alphabet.
With companies announcing their own autonomous driving system left and right – from Tesla all the way to Hyundai – Google saw rapidly growing competition from those whose expertise lies within the automotive industry. That combined with a flawed internal system, many of Google’s employees reportedly felt frustrated with the pace of progress and had issues with the project’s leadership. Google’s car project isn’t over yet, but one thing is clear: unless the company finds a way to manage it efficiently both in terms of financially and progress-wise, it will soon be overshadowed by the myriad of similar technologies coming to market in the next 5 years or so.