A string of cutbacks have threatened Google's status as a veritable Shangri-la of free gourmet food. Meanwhile, Facebook is ramping up the dining perks. Today the Times suggests Facebook might be "the new standard-bearer for corporate-sponsored dining." Food fight!
All the hallmarks of the newly deposed corporate dining king—Google—are present in Frances Dinkelspiels' tour of Facebook HQ's cafeteria. (And not just Josef Desimone, the chef Facebook poached from Google last year.) Whereas pre-Recession America went gaga over the "Google 15", today we're supposed to pity/hate Facebook employees who pack on the "Facebook 15" due to all that "glistening pink lox":
Fred Labbe, a credit analyst who arrives at work at 5:45 a.m. to reach the European markets, said he ate at least two meals a day at Facebook. "The food is fantastic," Mr. Labbe said one recent morning as he savored a plate of scrambled eggs and a bagel smothered in glistening pink lox.
In the six months since he started at Facebook, Mr. Labbe said, he has put on at least four pounds - a problem so common that employees joke about gaining the "Facebook 15" after they begin work at the company.
In Google's considerable perks portfolio, free food always held a special place. More than a simple convenience, the gourmet cafeterias piled high with lobster or whatever were a potent symbol of both the dedication of the young Google employees—they don't even have time to pack a lunch!—and the all-encompassing, slightly sinister embrace of the big G. Now it's Facebook playing surrogate mother figure to its fresh-faced employees while gently pushing them to take over the world:
Offering free food, and copious amounts of it, is part of Facebook's strategy to encourage employees to work long hours. A significant number of the 800 employees at the company's main campus are in their early 20s, fresh off their college years where they pulled all-nighters and hung out talking in their dorm rooms. Facebook is famous for its regular "hackathons," where employees are invited to stay up all night and work on programs and platforms that are not part of their normal assignments; the kitchen staff participates by creating new dishes that are served at midnight, 3 a.m. and at breakfast time.
In short, food is a lubricant that helps keep the innovation machine running.
In fact, Facebook is taking the food obsession a step further, allowing employees to actually cook it via highly-coveted "Internships" with the head chef. When employees are begging to cook food for other employees you know you've tapped into a self-perpetuating anthill force that's begging to be bent towards global domination.
And, of course the requisite note about how bougie all the food is:
[Chef Josef Desimone] said he tried to use meat from animals that had not been exposed to antibiotics or genetically modified feed; organic produce; milk and butter from local purveyors like Strauss Dairy and Clover Farms; and live-caught or sustainable fish.
The Facebook vs. Google rivalry might swivel on a pivot made of Thai-spiced cilantro chicken with red curry sauce.