Does Google employ too many smart people?

Google Street View man

Google's determination to only hire the brightest candidates is also a weakness, according to one of its own employees.

Avery Pennarun, who has worked at Google as a senior staff software engineer for three years has given a fascinating insight into life at one of the biggest tech companies in the world.

At a firm where internships are as fiercely contested as full-time roles, it's unsurprising to learn that Google only employs high acheivers.

Smart, successful people are cursed with over confidence.

"[I] wouldn't have thought that so many really smart people existed or could be centralised in one place, but trust me, they do and they can," Pennarun explained in his blog.

"I continue to be amazed at the overall smartness of people at this place. Overall, very nearly everybody, across the board, surprises or impresses me with how smart they are."

But employing geniuses across the board bring its own problems. Many of Google's programmers rely on logic rather than emotion to explain ideas, leading them to "convincingly rationalise nearly anything", Pennarun claimed.

Although he didn't mention any products that have been pushed through as a result of this ethos, Pennarun's post suggests this could be the reason why ill-fated projects like Google Buzz and Google Wave were pursued and released. Although early days, Google Glass may also be a high-profile casualty of valuing logic over emotion in the years to come.

Gathering the smartest people into one place also fosters an environment of invincibility because many employees have never experienced failure, Pennarun continued.

"Working at a large, successful company lets you keep your isolation. If you choose, you can just ignore all the inconvenient facts about the world. You can make decisions based on whatever input you choose.

"What I have learned, working here, is that smart, successful people are cursed. The curse is confidence. It's confidence that comes from a lifetime of success after real success, an objectively great job, working at an objectively great company, making a measurably great salary, building products that get millions of users. You must be smart. In fact, you are smart. You can prove it."

Khidr Suleman is the Technical Editor at IT Pro, a role he has fulfilled since March 2012. He is responsible for the reviews section on the site  - so get in touch if you have a product you think might be of interest to the business world. He also covers the hardware and operating systems beats. Prior to joining IT Pro, Khidr worked as a reporter at Incisive Media. He studied law at the University of Reading and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism and Online Writing at PMA Training.