Update: Some of Google's engineers are now insisting that "20 percent time" is not dead, but has simply shifted into "120 percent time."
Google’s “20 percent time,” which allows employees to take one day a week to work on side projects, effectively no longer exists. That’s according to former Google employees, one who spoke to Quartz on the condition of anonymity and others who have said it publicly.
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This is a strategic shift for Google that has implications for how the company stays competitive, yet there has never been an official acknowledgement by Google management that the policy is moribund. Google didn’t respond to a request for comment from Quartz.
Once a pillar of innovation at Google, now verboten
When Google went public in 2004, the founders’ letter from co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin cited 20 percent time as instrumental to the company’s ability to innovate, leading to “many of our most significant advances,” including AdSense, which now accounts for about 25 percent of the company’s $50+ billion in annual revenue. Google engineers also used 20 percent time to incubate Gmail, Google Transit, Google Talk, and Google News, among other projects.