A Bloomberg report blames extremely high bonuses for a talent drain as Google spun off its car project into the standalone business known as Waymo.
Google reportedly paid its car project team extremely large bonuses, but the payouts allegedly coincided with a loss of top talent.
Before the project was spun off into a standalone company known as Waymo, Google is said to have implemented a pay structure that awarded bonuses and multipliers at certain milestone points. Sources recently told Bloomberg the payouts were based on the division's theoretical valuation and amounted to "F-you money" for some key staff.
The comical description suggests the bonuses were so inflated the workers no longer needed to keep their current positions to maintain financial security.
"But I find that the kinds of people who do obtain their f--k you money rarely end up telling the world to f--k off and go live on the beach," Gladly co-founder Michael Wolfe wrote in an unrelated post on Quora (NSFW language). "They end up starting other companies, giving money to charity, investing in startups, and becoming more engaged in the world than ever, except on their own terms."
The Bloomberg report suggests the alleged extreme bonuses were dropped in favor of a traditional incentive structure once the project became Waymo, but not before the company lost several top workers.
Tesla recently filed a lawsuit against a former worker, Sterling Anderson, for allegedly violating non-solicitation terms in an employment contract. He allegedly recruited Tesla staff to join a new startup, Aurora Innovation, co-founded with former Google car project lead Chris Urmson, named as a co-defendant in the lawsuit.
Another former Google employee, Bryan Salesky, is now chief executive of Argo AI, a startup that recently received a $1 billion investment commitment from Ford.
Earlier reports suggest Urmson's departure six months ago may have sparked further resignations due to a leadership change. The Bloomberg report also appears to downplay the apparent extreme signing bonuses offered by traditional automakers and startups looking for experienced talent as they fight for a piece of the looming multi-billion-dollar autonomous car market.