Video: Tech companies now hiring

By George Lewis Correspondent
NBC News
updated 4/1/2004 8:19:12 PM ET 2004-04-02T01:19:12

Computer engineer Spencer Kimball’s career has tracked the dot-com boom and bust in California’s Silicon Valley.  He started his own Internet company, saw it go broke, and now works at Google.com, “In 2000, 2001, a lot of my friends were unemployed.  I think things are getting quite a bit better in the valley.”

Back then there were vacant offices all around Silicon Valley and plenty of empty parking lots.  But today those lots are full and many tech companies have the help wanted signs out again.

Google vice president Alan Eustace said, “We’re definitely hiring.  I think we’re hiring across the company.” 

Some dot-coms that survived the shakeout: Amazon, E-bay, Google and Yahoo have added 2,000 jobs in the past year.

Silicon Valley does have quite a way to go to make up for the 200,000 jobs lost in the last three years, but there is considerable optimism here, amid plenty of talk about a turn around in high-tech.”

One lesson learned: it’s the companies with solid business plans that survived the bust.  And many are so confident in their future they’re building up their American technology teams — resisting the outsourcing trend that sends jobs overseas.

“You are trying to do something in many of the cases at our companies which no one has ever done before.  Therefore you need your company very close to you,” said venture capitalist Bill Woodward.

Google executives say innovation is one of their recruiting tools.  “If you’re doing exciting things, if you’re solving really hard problems, you will attract really smart people to it,” Alan Eustace added.

Google also tried to attract employees by creating what it calls a “work hard-play hard” atmosphere, with volleyball games in the courtyard at corporate headquarters and free lunches at the company cafeteria.

“The environment in many ways it’s a lot like the startups during the dot-coms,” added Spencer Kimball.

At least on the surface it is.  But underneath, analysts believe, there’s new strength in Silicon Valley, and cautious optimism among employees who look for better times to come.

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