When one thinks about a holiday bonus they usually think about a large paycheck helping families in need during an expensive time of the year, but what happens when the holiday season comes rolling around and you get a gift rather than cash?
Employees over at Google didn’t experience a swell in their paycheck, but rather a “Dream Phone.” How many presents can you buy your family with a T-Mobile G1? Of course these G1s are not just your everyday run of the mill handsets, these have a special “droid” on the back to sweeten the deal. You can probably expect a lot of these “special edition phones” on Ebay in the next few weeks. This must be Google’s way of converting their team.
Google did manage to at least make these handsets unlocked so that team members can use any carrier they would like. There are a few countries that Google’s legal team could not “work their magic.” These countries include India, China, Brazil, Korea, Israel, Russia, Argentina, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mexico, Turkey, Kenya, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Egypt, Chile, and the Ukraine. The employees in those countries will receive the cash equivalent (about $400) in their December paycheck. Google has even attached a Q&A to the letter for anyone who has any more questions.
The full employee letter:
The holiday bonus is a Google tradition - it’s a great way to thank everyone for their hard work. In the past, we’ve done this in cash. This year, we’ve decided to give Googlers a different kind of present - a Dream phone (this is the same device T-Mobile (NYSE: DT) markets as the G1). We’re really excited about getting the phone to more Googlers in more countries, and also seeing all the cool new things you do with it.
Shipping these special edition phones in such a short time frame (they were designed especially for Googlers with a ‘droid’ on the back) and making sure they would work anywhere in the world was no small feat. So a big thank you to the Android and Legal teams for making this happen. While these phones do not have SIM cards, they are unlocked so they can be used with the network provider of your choice. Plus - thanks to more fancy footwork from the Android team - they’ll work immediately as WiFi devices!
Sadly, despite all our best efforts, there are some countries - India, China, Brazil, Korea, Israel, Russia, Argentina, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mexico, Turkey, Kenya, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Egypt, Chile, and the Ukraine - where even our legal team could not work their magic. Googlers in these countries will receive the cash equivalent of the phone in their December paychecks, which is about $400 USD. Overall though almost 85% of Googlers globally will be able to receive the phone - including the United States, Western and Central Europe, Canada, Australia, Singapore, and Japan.
The holiday gift team in your office will be sending out an email with logistical information on distribution shortly. We know that some of you are already on your holidays - don’t worry - your phones will be waiting for you when you come back! For more information, check out the FAQ here.
Some of you will of course be wondering why we decided to change from a cash bonus to the Dream phone. Here are the reasons. First, we’ve never developed anything like the Android software before and this represented a unique opportunity to celebrate that achievement. Googlers globally have been asking for the Dream phone and we’re looking forward to seeing all the different things that you do with them. This is a chance for us to once again dogfood a product and make it even better! Second, as we discussed in our email this week, the current economic crisis requires us to be more conservative about how we spend our money. We felt that giving the Dream phone would be a great holiday present - something we could all celebrate.
Thank you for all that you do to make Google the company that it is. We hope that you will enjoy using your Dream phone in 2009 and have a very happy holiday!
…and the Q&A that followed:
Q: What is the holiday bonus for 2008? The holiday bonus is a Google tradition. In the past, we have chosen to make this a monetary gift. This year we decided to try something different: on December 19th, we will begin distributing free Dream phones to Googlers worldwide.
Q: I already have an Android phone. What happens to my holiday bonus? These phones are a personal gift. We hope you will put them to good use! Please do not resell them as this is against Google [policy link removed].
Q: Why did we decide to give Dream phones as our holiday bonus this year? The launch of Android was one of this year’s highlights for the company. When the Android phone was announced, Googler interest was extremely high - we had scores of TGIF questions, misc threads, and just general buzz about how Googlers could get a phone of their own. After seeing the amount of interest in the Android phones from Googlers, we agreed that every Googler should have one.
Q: Will all Googlers get phones? It was a huge task to ensure that the phones would work around the world and we want to thank the Android team and Legal team for making this happen. We’re proud to say that almost 85% of Googlers globally will receive Dream phones, including Googlers in the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, Singapore, and Japan.
Q: I’m not getting a Dream phone because I don’t live in an eligible country. Do I still get a holiday bonus? Yes, Googlers who live in countries where it was not currently feasible to distribute Dream devices will be getting a cash equivalent gift in your paycheck in December. This includes people in India, China, Brazil, Korea, Israel, Russia, Argentina, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mexico, Turkey, Kenya, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Egypt, Chile, and Ukraine. For more information, please see [removed].
Q: I do live in an eligible country. Can I opt for the cash equivalent gift instead? Only those Googlers in countries where it was not currently feasible to distribute Dream devices will be getting the cash equivalent gift. All other Googlers will receive a Dream phone.
Q: Can I resell my phone? Googlers should not resell any item given to them by Google. Please review our Personal Transactions policy [removed].
Q: Will I be able to take my SIM from my Google managed Corporate Mobile device (BlackBerry (NSDQ: RIMM)) and use it in my new Dream phone? No, this is against policy and Google could incur significant overage charges. Placing a Blackberry SIM into a Dream device may cause the data plans to be disabled and break data for both the Dream and the Blackberry. Please review [link removed] for more info.
Q: Are there tax implications to this? Google is covering the taxes for this gift; there will be an extra payroll run before the end of the year to cover the taxes. If you have further payroll or HR-related questions about this gift please email [address removed].