Even as the whole of Silicon Valley grapples with historic inflation, a bank crash, and mass layoffs, Google’s woes stand apart. The explosion of ChatGPT and artificial intelligence more broadly has produced something of an existential crisis for the company, a “code red” moment for the business. “Am I concerned? Yes,” Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, told The New York Times. But Google employees are encountering another problem: “They took away the dried mango,” says a project manager at Google’s San Francisco office, whom I agreed not to name to protect the employee from reprisal. At least at that office, the project manager said, workers are seeing less of long-cherished food items—not just the mango, but also the Maui-onion chips and the fun-size bags of M&Ms.
Cost-cutting measures have gutted some of Google’s famous perks. In a company-wide email last month, Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat announced rollbacks on certain in-office amenities, including company-sponsored fitness classes, massages, and the availability of so-called microkitchens: pantries stocked with everything from low-calorie pork rinds to spicy Brazilian flower buds. These perks have long been an inextricable part of Google’s culture, even in an industry flush with nap pods and coffee bars—a way to recruit top talent and keep coders happy during long days in the office. “The idea was ‘We’re going to make it so wonderful to be here that you never need to leave,’” Peter Cappelli, a professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, told me. “Are they giving up on that idea?”