‘Fake work’ & ‘BS’ jobs | Leading VC investor claims half of Google does "no real work"

Leading VC investor claims half of Google does

A general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, a major Silicon Valley venture capital (VC) firm, has used Google as an “amazing example” of “fake work”.

David Elevitch, the investor in question, addressed the topic of fake work – the notion that many white-collar employees at large-scale companies have nothing to do, or add no strategic value to the business – in an interview with Emily Sundberg published in her business newsletter “Feed Me.”

"I don't think it's crazy to believe that half the white-collar staff at Google probably does no real work," Elevitch said. "The company has spent billions and billions of dollars per year on projects that go nowhere for over a decade, and all that money could have been returned to shareholders who have retirement accounts."

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, stated in a company meeting in 2022 that there were concerns that “productivity as a whole is not where it needs to be for the headcount we have."

According to the investor, the US economy has favored the creation of large conglomerates and mega-corporations in which companies overhire, resulting in swathes of unproductive workers.

“Anyone who works in a 10,000+ person or larger white-collar job company knows that a bunch of the people can probably be let go tomorrow and the company wouldn't really feel the difference,” he claimed. “Maybe it'd even improve with less people inserting themselves into things.”

Elevitch was the CEO of OpenDNS, which Cisco acquired for $635 million in 2015. He then became an SVP at the tech giant and argued that while he was treated as “impressive and important,” this perception of managers and leaders is a weakness in corporate America.

“This dynamic is endemic across corporations and is lame,” he added.

The Andreessen Horowitz general partner believes the value placed on “‘BS’ jobs” means that jobs seen as less desirable than white-collar work, such as manufacturing roles, are outsourced.

The “fake work” debate has grown amid recent layoffs and claims over overstaffing within Big Tech. Elevitch is not the first investor to suggest large companies are home to unproductive employees.

Marc Andreessen, another general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, tweeted in 2022 about the “Laptop Class” – or “Professional-Managerial Class” – of upper-middle-class professionals who “work through a screen and are totally abstracted from tangible physical reality and the real-world consequences of their opinions and beliefs.”

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Andreessen has also stated that "The good big companies are overstaffed by 2x. The bad big companies are overstaffed by 4x or more."

Nonfarm labor productivity has increased steadily over the past fifty years and hit an all-time high in the first quarter of 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

However, many companies alongside Google, particularly within big tech, have made mass layoffs after overly optimistic post-pandemic hiring, frequently citing productivity and efficiency concerns.

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