Former Google staffer says she's gone from viewing the company culture as 'paradise' to 'quite grim'

Former Google staffer says she's gone from viewing the company culture as 'paradise' to 'quite grim'
Claire Stapleton says she's gone from viewing the company culture as 'paradise' to 'quite grim'Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
  • Ex-Googler Claire Stapleton said her perspective on Google's culture has shifted dramatically over the years.
  • Stapleton said she was once a "cheerleader" for Google, but now she sees its culture as "quite grim."

Former Googler and self-proclaimed company "cheerleader" Claire Stapleton told The New York Times her perspective on the company soured over the 12 years she worked there.

Stapleton, who helped manage the company's corporate image both internally and in the media, said that when she joined the tech giant in 2007 she saw it as a type of "paradise."

"I was really kind of like a cheerleader for the company in many ways," she said during a podcast interview with the Times' "First Person." "I thought it was a really wonderful place to work."

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But Stapleton said she grew disillusioned with the company over the years as she saw how Google treated its contractors as "sort of second-class" citizens. The former marketing manager told the Times she began to feel a sense of "meaninglessness" when it came to her work and that she started to see Google's signature office perks as a "manipulation of culture."

"It's hard for me to stomach as someone who was really a big believer and a big enjoyer of the culture, I guess frankly. A recipient of it in many ways," Stapleton told the Times. "Culture can be a way of controlling norms and controlling workers. Giving them all these sorts of lavish perks and whatever, it's a way of getting what you want out of people, getting them to give more."


In 2018, Stapleton, organized a protest, walking off the job along with about 20,000 Google workers in response to the company's handling of sexual harassment allegations.

The former Googler told the Times that, at the time, she believed the walk out would be a positive move forward for the company. She was even presented by Google with Doc Martens to celebrate her activism, she told the Time, but shortly after, there was a restructuring of her role at the company which led to her exit.

Now nearly four years later, Stapleton says she sees Google's culture as "quite grim," especially since the company laid off about 12,000 employees in February.

"I was shocked by the number of people who were laid off during paternity or maternity leave, or who were on disability leave," Stapleton said of the layoffs at Big Tech companies, including Google. She said she saw it as a point of "cruelty" that "people's livelihoods were curtailed."

She sees the layoffs as a "power grab" and "the opposite of what Larry and Sergey intended for the company," referring to Google's founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.


"I think that there's surely some opportunity here that the management is taking to put workers in their place," she told the Times. "So what's happening is there's a shifting of the power back to the management."

Ultimately, Stapleton said she recommends tech workers approach "corporate propaganda" with a heavy dose of wariness and remember that "work will not love you back."

A spokesperson for Google did not respond to a request for comment ahead of publication.

Stapleton is one of several former Google workers to speak out against the company in recent months. Last week, Ex-Googler Praveen Seshadri said in a blog post that he witnessed the "gradual decay of a dominant empire" during his time at Google and said the issue revolves around "core cultural problems" at the company.

Listen to the full podcast on the Times' website.


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