In one TGIF in Kirkland, an employee informed Eric Schmidt that Microsoft’s benefits package was richer. He announced himself
genuinely surprised, which genuinely surprised me. Schmidt, in the presence of witnesses, promised to bring the benefits to a par. He consulted HR, and HR informed him that it’d cost Google 22 million a year to do that. So he abandoned the promise and fell back on his tired, familiar standby (”People don’t work at Google for the money. They work at Google because they want to change the world!”). A statement that always seemed to me a little Louis XIV coming from a billionaire.
A company that generates several billions of dollars a year in profit — that reported revenues of $5.54 billion during the third quarter of 2008 — is, from the perspective of CEO and Chairman Eric Schmidt, a man who earns a $1 annual salary but who owns more than 10.7 million shares of Google, considered a place where people work simply because they “want to change the world.”
From Emerson’s “Compensation”:
Every excess causes a defect; every defect an excess. Every sweet hath its sour; every evil its good. Every faculty which is a receiver of pleasure has an equal penalty put on its abuse. It is to answer for its moderation with its life. For every grain of wit there is a grain of folly. For every thing you have missed, you have gained something else; and for every thing you gain, you lose something. If riches increase, they are increased that use them. If the gatherer gathers too much, nature takes out of the man what she puts into his chest; swells the estate, but kills the owner. Nature hates monopolies and exceptions. The waves of the sea do not more speedily seek a level from their loftiest tossing, than the varieties of condition tend to equalize themselves. There is always some levelling circumstance that puts down the overbearing, the strong, the rich, the fortunate, substantially on the same ground with all others.