Yesterday, Google announced that it would offer its employees 10 percent raises and big bonuses for the holidays. There’s a downside to the story though, at least for the engineer that first leaked it. Though Google refuses to comment on the incident, several sources report that he has been fired. All Google would say is that, “While we don’t typically comment on internal matters, we do believe that competitive compensation plans are important to the future of the company.”

While it is questionable whether it is even possible to keep a pay raise to 23,300 people secret for long, the memo sent by CEO Eric Schmidt was labeled confidential.  There is even some speculation that the raise indicates a level of fear that Google has of its up and coming rival Facebook. Google is, after all, an enormous operation, while Facebook, the other most popular site on the web, operates with a staff a tenth the size of Google’s.  This means that Facebook staffers have a better chance of winning attention for themselves and having their ideas heard.

The facts bear this out. About 15 percent of Facebook employees list Google as a former boss on their LinkedIn resumes, and this cuts across all levels. Facebook Chief Operations Officer Sheryl Sandberg was formerly was Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google, while Facebook Chief Technology Officer Bret Taylor was once a product manager there. Some people have already begun to interpret the raise as a move to counter the brain drain to Facebook—the world’s most popular website is fighting off the appeal of the world’s second most popular website.

The problem is the attempt to keep the raise a “secret.” As Benjamin Franklin pointed out, “Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.”
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