"Why does Microsoft not have free food like Google and Facebook?" asked a Quora user, on the popular question-and-answer website.
That is the burning question only someone deciding between kush-level tech company jobs would ask, amiright? Likely, this question was a genuine inquiry of someone trying to decide which employer would make them the happiest.
That in mind, Amin Ariana, an ex-Googler, jumped in with a very eloquent and fascinating response that breaks down Microsoft and Google's differing food plans as a statement on their respective company cultures.
To legitimize his response, Amin reminds that he's "worked at both Microsoft and Google. They both have great food inside the campus to optimize the use of employee time."
Then comes the analysis based on the company's benefits, Microsoft's food is not free (although reportedly very delicious), while Google's is apparently all-inclusive. He broke it down the way those of whom subscribe to Star ñWars and Star Trek might understand:
Microsoft culturally sees food through the lens of Star Wars: a capitalist empire with many free-market options that you vote for with your wallet. They pay you enough to think with your money.
Google culturally sees food through the lens of Star Trek: a socialist empire in search of truth, where the basics of life are made free for you to focus on the complicated. This also helps them in the competitive job market of Silicon Valley.
When I was at Microsoft, I lost weight. When I was at Google, I gained 15 pounds. I liked my work just the same. I suppose this means a thin capitalist and a fat socialist live within me.
Knowing the above, how do meal plans actually translate into productivity according to an ex-pat of two seemingly different tech giants? Does one option or the other make you more happy? Is this all just fancy smoke-and-mirrors to convince you that your work means something?
The most productive I've been, however, is working for my own startup - where I neither get paid nor can afford to have somebody else prepare the food.
Meaningful work and compensation are nearly independent variables.
Fascinating -- so we've learned that those working at startups with no money, according to Amin Ariana, will keep their team of unpaid interns more efficient because they don't have to think about first-world tech giant lunch problems. They just starve -- or something.
And there it is -- Microsoft employees use their exorbitant salaries to pay for, and eat exactly what they want for lunch. At Google, their aim is to not waste any decision-making power on non-essential life decisions like bantering for 40 minutes over Gchat with your co-worker about Chipotle.
Microsoft is like Star Wars, Google is like Star Trek. Both enjoyable if you like the characters and mission, but the perks, and subsequently the food, had little bearing on their happiness. Thanks ex-Googler for answering the public Quora question, and subsequently sending me into an existential mindset about everything I'm working towards.