Last week it was $3.5 million. This week, All Things D reports that one engineer ended a bidding war by taking a $6 million stock grant.
We've seen talent wars like this before. Microsoft was sued back in 1997 for poaching employees from database company Borland. Google returned the favor last decade, causing Steve Ballmer throw a chair across the room. Now, Google is trying its hardest not to end up on the losing end as the cycle repeats itself.
The trouble with paying these kinds of retention bonuses is that once you start, it's very hard to stop. They're basically giving employees an extra incentive to sniff around Facebook or another pre-IPO startup so they can get a job offer to dangle back in front of their managers.
A lot of employees are always going to be motivated by money, and with the stock no longer doubling every year, Google's in a tough spot. But the company may need to take a hard look at other cultural factors as well. We hear more and more tales of new committees, intra-group politicking, and attitude problems toward new employees, particularly those who come in through acquisitions. Facebook is still mostly small enough and agile enough to avoid those problems