A hot story at Quartz named Google's "20% time," which brought you Gmail and AdSense, is now as good as dead was all over the internet. Google quickly responded officially that 20% time is still part of the culture at Google.
That being said, I love it when I see Googlers go into the various social media or forum settings and defend their company.
Google's Matt Cutts, one of the first 100 employees at Google responded twice to criticism at Hacker News. First he said:
I'm a manager at Google and I think 20% time is great. Engineers explore something that's exciting to them, and the projects usually pay dividends, either in great launches or else people get a chance to learn new skills or hone their current skills.
Second he added:
Transit directions have been a big reason why some people prefer Google Maps to (say) Apple's maps. In places like New York or Tokyo, it's a huge win for users. It's also spawned an open specification (Google Transit Feed Specification) that has sparked a ton of innovation in the public transit space, including real-time location updates from public transit authorities.
Full disclosure: one of the big leaders of the Google Transit project was Avichal Garg, who was a PM for the webspam team when he ramped up Google Transit in his 20% time.
Another Googler under the name moultano first explained that you don't really need manager permission to take 20% time. He wrote:
They may personally feel that they need manager permission. That doesn't mean that they do. There's also a wide range of managers with different opinions throughout the company.
He then explained why this person complained and how this story came about:
He was at Google for 6 months. Whatever you think about his opinions in general, he doesn't know anything about how things at Google work.
Anyway, love sharing nuggets on stories from Googler responses in the corners of forum discussion threads.
Forum discussion at Hacker News.