If you haven't been to the company spa, arcade, bar or bowling alley, you probably work outside of Silicon Valley.
Technology companies are lavishing employees with perks here at a time when much of the nation is experiencing just the opposite: job cuts, belt-tightening at the office and the strains of a generally sour economy.
However, these are employers flush with cash: Zynga and Facebook alone raised $1 billion and $16 billion, respectively, in IPOs. This latest boomlet in tech is spurring another talent war like the late-'90s dot-com era. And in order to attract and retain the best and the brightest, tech companies are pulling out all the stops to pamper talent.
Technologists like these can bounce from Google to Facebook to a start-up in the span of only a few years, grabbing stock, bonuses and raises on each jump.
"In this market, particularly in Silicon Valley, you've got to take extraordinary measures to stand out from the crowd" as an employer, says John Reed, executive director of technology job placement firm Robert Half Technology.
Free massages, hair cuts, laundry services, shuttles, gourmet meals and snacks galore are only some of the treats showered on employees. The list goes on. Google's success years ago allowed it to set the bar on comforts. Now it's looking like a perk playground on steroids in tech.
The need for software engineers is so great that companies are willing to pay $20,000 in finder's fees to employees who drag in the right people.
"People with these very specific skills are in high demand," says Jason Schloetzer, assistant professor of accounting at Georgetown's McDonough School of Business.
Yet unanswered is whether the tech industry is in another hype-fueled bubble. That possibility alone calls into question whether the perks are sustainable in a bust.
"At some point, something has got to give," says Rusty Rueff, director at career community Glassdoor.
There's already been a sizable deflation in the share prices of Facebook and Zynga — down 18% and 46%, respectively — since going public amid increased investor scrutiny. But it remains to be seen whether shareholder concerns will put pressure on perks.
"You face those pressures, and you definitely have a new, broader constituency" as a public company, says Zynga CEO Mark Pincus.
For now, compensation experts say, perks are the rules of the game.
Facebook's Silicon Disneyland
Facebook is transforming its new Menlo Park headquarters into a Silicon Disneyland. The former Sun Microsystems property underwent a makeover that tore down office cubicles and put in shared work tables, couches, bars, cafes, eateries and even pubs.
Philz Coffee, a popular local chain, serves drinks made to order, but they're not free. People work outside at cafe tables. Nearby, there's a new outdoor barbecue shack with seating.
The kitchen staff puts out food carts that offer hot dogs, pizza or tacos along the main walkway. And Facebook has two main eateries to feed its staff — Epic Cafe and Cafe 18 — which can seat hundreds of the young, T-shirt-clad, smart and pretty people, most of whom are under 30. All food is free, day and night.