One of the perks to working at Google world HQ in Mountain View, California, is unlimited free access to cruiser bikes. The intent of these Gbikes is to make it easier for employees to get around its sprawling corporate campus.
But all is not rosy, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal by Jack Nicas. Indeed, the company says between 100-250 of its 1100 bikes go missing on a weekly basis. To help combat this plague of bike theft (or borrowing), Google has hired 30 people to span out across the community to retrieve the colorful cruisers. Google is also beta testing GPS trackers and locks on some bikes. The later can be opened by employees using an app on their smart phones.
Thus far, the missing bikes have shown up at local schools, in neighbors’ lawns, at the bottom of the town creek, and on the roof of a sports bar, according to the report. The disappearances often aren’t the work of ordinary thieves, though. Many residents of Mountain View, a city of 80,000 that has effectively become Google’s company town, see the employee perk as a community service.
“It’s like a friendly gesture,” said Sharon Veach, a 68-year-old resident who rides the bikes several times a week. “They don’t really want us to use it, but it’s OK if you do.” Even Mountain View Mayor Ken Rosenberg admits he once rode a Gbike to go see a movie after a meeting on Google’s campus.
Of course Google can afford it. Though they wouldn’t reveal how much they pay for each bike, cruisers of this type typically sell for $100-$300, meaning even losing a few hundred a week would be a tiny rounding error for a company sitting on more than $100 billion in cash.
Read to the full story at www.wsj.com.