Paying For Content

I wanted to point out an interesting article about how Google are having trouble recruiting staff for their new London office – but the article is in the Independent and because it’s a few days old you now have to pay to read it. So here’s the text that I got yesterday before the paywall dropped into place.

Google, the US search engine giant, is failing to attract enough talent to work in its fledgling London office.

Google is one of the world’s best-known brands, with a market value of $112bn (£64bn), and boasts a strong reputation as an employer. Perks include staff being allowed to dedicate time to personal projects, known as the Twenty Per Cent Time Project, as well as free food and drink.

However, the group has so far failed to hire enough developers for its UK office. Although Google already has sales staff in London, employing engineers in the UK is a more recent development, and it began looking to recruit employees only four months ago.

“Our growth is exceptional in the current market conditions, so in order to stay abreast of new innovations and indeed the competition, we need to continuously seek the best talent, not only in the UK but across the world,” Rian Liebenberg, information systems director of Europe, said.

Mr Liebenberg believes the main problem holding back recruitment is that potential candidates fear they will eventually have to relocate to California, where Google’s head office is, which he insists is not the case. He also sites[sic] ignorance about what Google does, with some people believing it only offers a search engine service.

The vast majority of news stories that I link to here are from the BBC or the Guardian. That’s, of course, partly because those organisations have the same pinko deviant view of the world as I do, but the major reason is because they understand the importance of permanence on the web. I know that links I use to their stories will still work long into the future.

I’m sure that the Independent are happy that the pay-for-content business model is working for them. But it means that people discussing the news won’t be linking to their versions of the stories. And that means that less people are being directed to their site. Which can’t be a good idea in the long run, can it?


  1. Firstly, Google’s inability to hire decent technical staff. That’s worrying. I personally don’t think that people aren’t signing up because they think they might have to relocate. If anything, probably the possibility of relocation to California is a bonus for the sort of people that Google would want to be hiring. I think it’s more likely to be that there just aren’t that many great techies about any more, certainly not those looking for work anyway. When the IT market contracted a few years ago a lot of people either got out or made plans to get out (myself included). And if a company with a strong “employer brand” such as Google can’t hire good people, what hope for the rest of us?Secondly, coming to the Independent’s pay-for-content business model, it’s a difficult balance to strike. Having said this, I would have thought that the real value in their content was in the new articles, not the back catalogue of older articles. So perhaps their model is back-to-front! It’s a nice thing about the web that it’s so open to tracking and measurement, so they probably have a whole host of stats to draw upon when taking these decisions. The Independent specifically has a relatively low circulation though, so it’s interesting that they appear not to have set bringing in more unique visitors as a KPI.

  2. I was offered a job with Google doing “deployment management”.

    They wanted me to go for a 3 month training at that Googleplex and then relocate to Dublin.

    I said I don’t want to go to Dublin and I also asked how much they’re paying. They never got back to me… ;)

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