updated 06:15 pm EST, Fri December 17, 2010
Google tight on leaks but making autonomous groups
Google has grown so concerned over leaks that it's now firing two employees a month, an investigation into its corporate structure has found. Possibly as a reaction to an exposure of its corporate culture, an average of two per month are being forced out. TechCrunch didn't detail what triggered many of the leaks although Google +1 and possibly Android-related slips are candidates given their frequency.
The policy is an unusual tightening of restrictions around Google, whose company structure has usually encouraged openness and sharing. Competition with Facebook and potentially Apple may have forced the search firm to clamp down and avoid revealing strategy. Apple has usually been the best known for extremely tight security in Silicon Valley companies and threatened firings over the iPad codename if it was so much as mentioned outside of certain areas.
In spite of the negative news, Google has reportedly taken the advice to heart and has set up some divisions to work almost entirely independently, without having to get approval or executive oversight. The switch was both to address accusations of bureaucracy slowing the company down as well as to prevent employees from defecting to Facebook or another rival without meaningful impact on the company.
An example has been the acquisition of social technology firm Slide, which has supposedly had more freedom to move. One longstanding attempt to negotiate a deal from within Google also reportedly went through quickly after months of stalled progress.
It's unknown which divisions have been given the freedom, although it may initially focus just on less essential projects; Slide is rumored to be working on unique photo sharing. Divisions producing the company's increasingly critical software strategy, such as the groups for Android, Chrome OS and Google TV, may still have relatively limited flexibility.