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Money is not important! Take it from Google’s multi-millionaire CEO | Arwa Mahdawi


gTake out your smallest fiddle: Google, once known for its lavish work perks, is slashing its entertainment budget. Employees can no longer throw themselves into as much festivities as before and will have to considerably reduce their Christmas parties. The cost-cutting didn’t go down well with Google staff, who confronted CEO Sundar Pichai in a recent company-wide meeting. Why did Google “nickel-and-dimme” them, Pichai was asked, when the company “had record profits and huge cash reserves”?

Pichai’s response was, “I hope you all read the news.” Because the news, you may have noticed, is not good right now. After briefly talking about macroeconomic conditions, Pichai couldn’t resist the moralizing. “I remember when Google was small and scrappy,” said the multi-millionaire, who earned $6.3m (£5.8m) last year. “We shouldn’t always equate pleasure with money. I think you can get into a startup that works hard and people can have fun and that shouldn’t always mean money.

We are in the midst of a cost of living crisis where people have to choose between heating and eating. The fact that a group of well-paid technicians have their sushi budgets cut isn’t exactly a tragedy. Still, it’s hard not to feel exasperated by Pichai’s remarks. There’s nothing more boring, after all, than insanely rich people explaining to the rest of us that money just isn’t that important. Fun doesn’t always mean money, it’s true, but it’s hard to have fun when you’re perpetually broke. Pichai may not realize this, but many people around the world certainly do.

In the UK, disposable income for people under 30 has fallen by more than a fifth compared to the same period last year, for example. Socializing has become increasingly unaffordable, and as a result much of young people’s social life has evaporated. I hope Pichai has read the news and realizes that many people are suffering right now. If he doesn’t understand why his comments are so irritating in the midst of a cost of living crisis, then maybe he should try Googling it?

Arwa Mahdawi is a Guardian columnist

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