Google’s 20% Time allowed engineers to spend the equivalent of one day a week working on a personal project without having to justify it to anyone. Gmail, Google maps, Adsense, Google Talk and many other products were born from this scheme. Adsense alone is responsible for around 25 percent of Google’s annual revenue.
Now, says the report, it is all but dead …
While the scheme is officially still in place, employees say that the chances of being able to take advantage of it are close to zero after a change of policy requiring prior approval from managers. Managers, whose team productivity is closely monitored by a bunch of analytics data, are reluctant to grant this approval.
The writing appears to have been on the wall for some considerable time. As long ago as 2010, former Google engineer Ben Maurer said in answer to a Quora question that logistical challenges and lack of recognition in employee appraisals already made it difficult to work on personal projects. More recently, Google closed down Google Labs, where many of the projects were made available to the public, and has closed down several products as it seeks a tighter focus.
You do have to wonder, though, about the wisdom of the development …
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