Sleeping with the enemy

Jonathan Schwartz’s resignation via Twitter reminded me of a strange facet of Sun company culture: I’ve never known so many married couples working for the same company. Some them even worked on the same project together. For the same boss. From home.

Now, the exact percentage of married couples in a company can’t be used to compare companies directly – after all, it depends heavily on things like industry, age, and local marriage laws – but it seems linked to another facet of Sun company culture: Complete, almost embarrassing disconnect from public opinion.

The post-Google standard company perks – free food, on-site exercise classes, company shuttles – make it trivial to speak only to fellow employees in daily life. If you spend all day with your co-workers, socialize only with your co-workers, and then come home and eat dinner with – you guessed it – your co-worker, you might go several years without hearing the words, “Run Solaris on my desktop? Are you f—ing kidding me?

Schwartz’s “the financial crisis did it” explanation for Sun’s demise is a symptom of an inbred company culture in which employees at all levels voluntarily isolated themselves from the larger Silicon Valley culture. Tech journalists write incessantly about the exchange of expertise and best practice between companies as a major driver of the Bay area’s success. But you have to actually talk to your competition to do that – over a beer, or maybe a pillow.

3 thoughts on “Sleeping with the enemy”

  1. I don’t know much about Sun’s culture, but Google has turned into a religion rather a company. I wonder if some day they will buy a planet and move all their employees there…

    As for me, I do like my co-workers – most of them – but I do like to have a personal life as well :)

  2. Although just immersing yourself in the “larger Silicon Valley culture” is the same problem writ larger.

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