Google has announced it plans to hire more than 6,200 workers this year, boosting its work force by at least a quarter.
It is the internet giant’s biggest expansion yet and the hiring spree comes as US President Barack Obama emphasised the need for more jobs to kick start the world’s largest economy. Google chief executive Eric Schmidt was among a group of business leaders who met with Obama last month to discuss ways to bolster the recovery.
But Google’s push to further expand its workforce, which grew by 23% last year, may not be well received on Wall Street. The internet search leader’s spending has been criticised by some investors who would prefer a more frugal approach in the hope of larger returns.
Google executives have consistently brushed aside those concerns, saying the company needs to aggressively recruit the smartest computer engineers and the most persuasive sales representatives to maintain its lead in online search and advertising.
Google hired nearly 4,600 people last year to end 2010 with 24,400 employees. Schmidt said the company will hire more than 1,000 workers in Europe alone this year.
Google’s commitment to increase its workforce by at least 25% this year means its payroll may grow faster than its revenue. Analysts polled by FactSet expect Google’s revenue to increase 22% this year, after factoring in commission it pays to advertising partners.
Alan Eustace, Google’s senior vice president of engineering and research, said: “At this stage, the number of opportunities just vastly exceed the number of people we have at the company.” Even if it surpasses 31,000 employees this year, Google will still have far fewer people than Microsoft, among its fiercest rivals, which employs about 88,400 people.
Google co-founder Larry Page is preparing to take over as the company’s chief executive on April 4. Page, 37, held the role in Google’s early days when the company was far smaller and it had fewer than 300 employees when Schmidt replaced him as chief executive a decade ago.
Google has become a coveted place to work, largely because Page and fellow co-founder Sergey Brin have always insisted on making the company’s offices seem like a home away from home in an effort to make people more productive. All meals, snacks and drinks are free at Google, and employees can commute on free shuttles equipped with internet access to San Francisco and other cities.
The company can afford to splash out as it has become increasingly prosperous. Google earned $8.5 billion (£5.35 billion) last year, far more than its internet peers, and ended December with nearly $35 billion (£22 billion) in cash.