Google employees could probably use a good laugh about now.
In recent weeks, President Donald Trump and his political allies have accused the company of trying to undermine political discourse. Earlier this year, thousands of Google employees protested the company’s work with the military and later the possibility that managers may launch a censored search engine in China.
“Goomics,” a new book that satirizes the company’s corporate culture, may provide the right amount of comic relief.
Emmanuel “Manu” Cornet, a Google software engineer, artist and musician, is the book’s author and illustrator. Cornet is from France and started work at Google in 2007.
Judging from “Goomics,” Cornet is also a keen observer of the company’s culture. Though he often takes a kid-glove approach when sending up his coworkers and bosses, his illustrations are still revealing about the company and its culture. Through humor, he casts a light on what life is like working at one of the world’s most powerful, innovative and likely least understood tech companies.
Cornet, however, is at his funniest when he turns his attention to Google’s competitors, such as Apple, Microsoft and Oracle.
We talked to Cornet about his life at Google, and his cartooning work. Here’s what he had to say.
Meet Manu Cornet, the cartoonist behind “Goomics.”
Self portrait by Manu Cornet, a Google employee and illustrator.Manu Cornet
In an interview with Business Insider, Cornet said that while he couldn’t go into much detail, there was a lengthy review process of the book before he was given the managerial okay from Google to publish “Goomics.”
Not everyone at Google was thrilled with the book, he said. According to Cornet, some at the company worried about how it would affect the company’s reputation.
“I hope that it’s clear from the tone and the language,” Cornet said, “that I really like the company…I think that it’s important for Google to retain a sense of humor. I think it’s good for our image in the long run.”
Cornet doesn’t really know what led him to write the book, but he acknowledges that it might have something to do with his background. Comics, such as “Asterix & Obelix,” are huge in France.
The illustration that Cornet is perhaps best known for is this cartoon, poking fun at the organizational structures of some of tech’s biggest companies.
Manu Cornet/Wikimedia Commons
“I almost didn’t release this one,” Cornet said. “This is probably the most popular of my illustrations but I didn’t really think it was that funny. So this shows you how clueless I am at predicting what drawings people will like.”
The drawing appeared in The New York Times and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella cited it on the first page of his book “Hit Refresh,” writing that this was what convinced him to change Microsoft’s culture.
In the 148-page book, Cornet shows how employees make good use of the famous perks Google offers, such as free food.
Cornet notes how sometimes those perks are abused.
He says that some Googlers don’t observe common-sense rules, such as “snacks and take-out boxes for lunch and dinner are not supposed to be taken home to feed the whole family.”
That Google allowed Cornet to release the book could be a sign that regardless of the many changes at the company, managers and workers can still laugh at themselves.
Each chapter of Cornet’s book is titled by a letter of the alphabet, in honor of Google parent company Alphabet. For example, F is for Fifteen, which he says is the average number of pounds new Googlers, or Nooglers, gain in their first few months.
S is for Spoiled, which Cornet argues is what Googlers are. He writes that employees can experience three stages regarding all their Google benefits: delight, tolerance and entitlement.
“It’s been but a few weeks since the Googler joined, and already it’s amazing how much the world owes him,” Cornet joked in his book. “This is a small minority of employees, but they tend to be rather vocal.”
“I would say that most people at Google are happy with what they have,” Cornet said. “Some do complain and I tried to take a balanced view. I tried to show how appalling it is to complain when we get so much.”
In one cartoon, Cornet draws Google’s former CEO Eric Schmidt, announcing a series of raises, bonuses and gifts and, you guessed it, someone still wants more.
In the interview, Cornet is frank about where he falls on the scale. Google is the only workplace that he’s ever known. Though he knows very few workers around the world enjoy the same luxuries, he still has nothing from his own experience to compare it to.
Still, he says one can’t take it for granted.
Some of Google’s culture is surreal, he says.
Much has been made of the Google Bus, also known as the G-Bus.
The word from Googlers in the past is that the bus ride allows them time to do their work.
In the above photo, Cornet suggests that not all Google employees are working during the commuter — or for that matter, supporting Google+, the company’s less-than-ubiquitous social network.
J is for Jargon and Google has plenty of that.
It’s best for Nooglers not to let on when they don’t understand terms like “dog fooding,” which refers to when Google’s own employees test one of the company’s products, wrote Cornet.
He also tried to decipher some of the limitless acronyms that are bandied about at Google. A PM is a product manager, but that’s not to be confused with a TLM, which is a technical lead manager.
“Employees who join a new team often undergo specific training explaining the architecture of the software they are going to work on,” Cornet wrote. “If that software happens to be a complex beast like Search or Gmail, they are in for a treat.”
Apparently, none of Google’s iconic business practices, not even its hiring practices, were spared.
He points out that the bar for getting hired as an employee is very high, and notes the low percentage of candidates who actually make the cut.
The downside, or at least a downside, is that Cornet suggests this creates an elitist mentality in some Google employees.
Referring to Google’s acquisition of Motorola in 2011, Cornet wrote: “Some Googlers get all cocky about their academic prowess and question whether all those new employees would have met Google’s hiring bar.”
The perception of Google is that the company hates patents. Critics say patents and copyright get in the way of free thinking and the free-flow of information.
Cornet makes mention of this. And he also notes how when Google sold Motorola to Lenovo, it held on to the company’s patents.
Much of the book is very inside baseball. Anyone not working in tech or can’t geek out enough will struggle to understand. But if you are either of these, then Goomics is worth the $19.