Google may have paid as much as $150 million in stock grants to retain key product employees Sundar Pichai and Neal Mohan, say multiple sources. Both were offered the chief product role at Twitter earlier this year (cofounder Jack Dorsey eventually filled the position), but Google offered Pichai $50 million and Mohan $100 million, respectively, to stay, say multiple sources. In what could be called an IQ test, both accepted Google’s offer.
The stock grants are significantly higher than what we’ve unearthed previously, but the model is the same. Google grants restricted stock to the employee that vests over time (two years in the case of Sundar and 3 or 4 years with Neal, says one source). An engineer last year was offered $3.5 million in stock to stay. At the time it seemed outrageous.
There’s lots to say about the statement Google is making with these counteroffers. “Don’t mess with us,” comes to mind. As well as “If you’re a Google employee and you aren’t out interviewing at Facebook, Twitter or Zynga you are a moron.” Regardless, the fact that large fortunes are being handed out to mid level technical managers is somewhat of a red flag in general. That kind of money is usually reserved for founders of companies that make it to IPO. Actually, most IPO founders make substantially less than that.
What’s more fascinating is this. In at least one of the cases Google is said to have made a counteroffer before the employee even told Google they were considering an offer from Twitter.
We previously reported that Google had set up a special group to respond to these situations quickly, sometimes overnight. But we’ve never heard of Google making counter offers prior to the actual offer from Facebook or Twitter being made.
Multiple sources close to Twitter have said that someone with access to Twitter’s most confidential information, such as who they are interviewing for key executive spots, may be leaking that information directly to Google. In this case, Google may have acted on that information too quickly. And people at Twitter, say these sources, are steaming mad.
I spoke to Twitter PR earlier today about this story and they declined to comment. I’ve been unable to reach Google for comment.