"Within my first week of working at a start-up, I acquired a gut. The reason was obvious: there was free food everywhere, it was delicious and I was nervous . . .on Monday, warm cookies from the Upper West Side bakery Levain appeared in the kitchen. Buttercream cupcakes followed; apparently it was somebody’s birthday. (It is always somebody’s birthday.) At noon, employees gathered for a catered lunch of barbecue. Two hours later, a Pinkberry station rolled into the office with the full battery of toppings."The author raises the stakes in each paragraph, moving from free food to beer, coffee, yogurts, fancy juices, then up to concert tickets, in-office manicures, nap times, and - I am not making this up - a room full of puppies.
Back in my day (in *cough* late '90s small biotech), I distinctly recall watching the first Keurigs pump out decadent self-serve coffee pods, and thinking how lucky we were to have such a great gizmo. Later, I toured a boom-times GSK, noting agog the subsidized food, dry cleaning, in-house gym, etc.
My favorite quote from the article comes courtesy of tech titan Nolan Bushnell, Atari founder (emphasis mine):
Amazing. Would that all start-ups felt the same way.*"Mr. Bushnell of Atari, a veteran of the start-up world, was asked where he draws the line between 'productive perk' and 'wanton decadence.' His answer: Well, he doesn’t.'I’ve often felt that it is somehow wrong to have an engineer spend any time at all scrubbing his own toilet,' he said. 'It sounds elitist, but these people are highly important to the economy and to the company. Offering maid service to them as a perk makes total sense.'"
*By my count, I've scrubbed my toilet at least 40 times since starting at my current job. Par for the course. I've heard of start-ups with trash and mop duty, too.