Google Gold Gives Thousands a New Lifestyle

In the past two years, an estimated 100 to 200 Googlers — many of whom are Googlaires — decided to take their options money and run. Some are retired and living large in Silicon Valley mini-mansions, but most are continuing to work hard. They've moved to other companies, started their own businesses, invested in start-ups and founded charitable organizations.

So far Senkut has invested in 32 start-ups, pitching in between $25,000 to $100,000 a pop. He and his wife also donate to the University of California, San Francisco, for its research in anti-aging treatments and cancer diagnostics.

More restless Googlers are expected to depart next year after another batch of options vest. "Getting smart, entrepreneurial people on board and making them rich, these individuals hit a point," and they decide to go elsewhere, said Dan Daugherty, a Googler from 2002 to 2006, who cashed out to start a company in Colorado. "In the next year or two, you'll see more people leaving."

More — but not droves. Ex-Googler David Friedberg, who founded his own company last year, estimates that Google's turnover rate will be 2% to 5% annually — much smaller than the 5% to 10% average in corporate America.

Not every Googlaire has gone on a spending spree. Kevin Scott is still renting in San Jose despite making "millions, but not huge millions, under $10 million" from his options. Scott, a senior engineering manager at Google from 2003 to July 2007, said he's waiting for housing prices to come down to get the best deal. "Having a mega-mansion or mini-mansion," he says, "isn't what my wife and I care about."

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