'Cultish' secrecy, 'iBuddy' system & paid lunches all part of Apple's HQ

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014


A new look at Apple's corporate headquarters offers an idea of what it's like for employees to work there, including the legendary emphasis on secrecy, and the fact that there are no free lunches provided after an employee's first-day orientation.



The details come from the new book by Fortune writer Adam Lashinsky, which will go on sale Jan. 25. An excerpt from the book was published on Wednesday, offering readers a taste of what the title will offer.



Lashinsky's take details Apple's well-known obsession with privacy, which he describes as a "cultish" atmosphere at the company's Cupertino, Calif., headquarters. New employees initially encounter this on their first day, when they attend a half-day of orientation always on a Monday, unless Monday is a holiday.



That first day is often when new employees learn what their actual job will be. New workers are often hired into "dummy positions," and employees don't learn the details of their job until after they join Apple.



Still other employees do know what they were hired to work on, but they can't tell anyone else. That complicates icebreaking sessions with other new hires, as some don't know with absolute certainty what they were hired to do, and others are simply not allowed to say.



That secrecy and paranoia even extends outside of Apple's campus. Employees jokingly refer to a nearby restaurant, BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse, as "IL-7," or "Infinite Loop 7," a building that doesn't exist.



"Company lore holds that plainclothes Apple security agents lurk near the bar at BJ's and that employees have been fired for loose talk there," Lashinsky wrote. "It doesn't matter if the yarn is true or apocryphal. The fact that employees repeat it serves the purpose."



Sources who contributed details to the book said that Apple's corporate culture isn't particularly nice, nor is it relaxed. One anonymous person said that fighting between employees "can get personal and ugly."







The culture at Apple is described as "the polar opposite of Google's," and one small but noteworthy difference between the two rival companies lies in lunch. Unlike at Google, where lunch is free, Apple employees must pay for their "quite good and reasonably priced" lunch at the company cafeteria. There is one exception: New employees are given free lunch during their first-day orientation.



New employees can also gain a helping hand with Apple's informal "iBuddy" system, where they're paired up with an existing employee outside of their primary team. The new hire can have their integration into Apple eased having a person who can answer questions.



"Many have said they met with their iBuddy once or twice at the beginning of their tenure -- before they became too busy to meet again," the book reads.



Other details from Lashinsky's book include claims that Apple's iOS chief, Scott Forstall, is viewed as the company's "CEO-in-waiting, while the head of Internet software, Eddy Cue, is portrayed as a "dealmaker" crucial to the company's negotiations with outside partners like content providers and wireless carriers. "Inside Apple: How America's Most Admired -- and Secretive -- Company Really Works" is available for preorder from Amazon , as well as a digital and an unabridged .

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 51
    In other words, Apple is exactly like almost every other company out there. Pairing new employees is common practice. Most companies call this shadowing. In fact, that is probably what Apple calls it. I have a hard time believing that they actually call them "iBuddies". A certain level of secrecy is necessary for all companies for competitive reasons. These are not the qualities that make Apple special.
  • Reply 2 of 51
    Apple secrecy has lead to many rumours and much excitement and speculation, but...



    IIRC, the company behind the Kinect technology had first approached Apple and was in talks/negotiations with Apple for months before becoming frustrated having to deal with this infamous secrecy and Apple's way of doing things.



    The company decided to move on and then approached Microsoft which accepted and developed what is now Kinect... and the rest is history. Kinect has proven to be quite successful for MS with new potential uses continually cropping up.



    IMO, one of the few (known) missteps and lost opportunities by Apple in recent memory.
  • Reply 3 of 51
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,717member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    One anonymous person said that fighting between employees "can get personal and ugly."



    Wow, I'll bet that never happens anywhere else...
  • Reply 4 of 51
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacCanuck View Post


    Apple secrecy has lead to many rumours and much excitement and speculation, but...



    IIRC, the company behind the Kinect technology had first approached Apple and was in talks/negotiations with Apple for months before becoming frustrated having to deal with this infamous secrecy and Apple's way of doing things.



    The company decided to move on and then approached Microsoft which accepted and developed what is now Kinect... and the rest is history. Kinect has proven to be quite successful for MS with new potential uses continually cropping up.



    IMO, one of the few (known) missteps and lost opportunities by Apple in recent memory.



    Or it could simply be that they didn't get along or the deal didn't work out and IIRC used that as an excuse.
  • Reply 5 of 51
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by esummers View Post


    In other words, Apple is exactly like almost every other company out there. Pairing new employees is common practice. Most companies call this shadowing. In fact, that is probably what Apple calls it. I have a hard time believing that they actually call them "iBuddies". A certain level of secrecy is necessary for all companies for competitive reasons. These are not the qualities that make Apple special.



    Certain level? If what Lashinsky's book is saying is true, Apple takes secrecy to the max as in CIA NSA level..
  • Reply 6 of 51
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,219member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacCanuck View Post


    ...



    IMO, one of the few (known) missteps and lost opportunities by Apple in recent memory.



    That fact that Apple didn't have a game console and Microsoft did had nothing to do with it?
  • Reply 7 of 51
    I'm betting anyone who ever worked as a defense department contractor just laughs at Apple's "security". Or anyone who's ever worked on a movie, or any number of competitive fields. Record companies were sending out sample albums in portable CD players that had been glued shut. I don't think Apple's ever done anything that paranoid.



    As for the iBuddies, I imagine the program has an official corporate buzz word name, like Employee Integration Liaison or some such derp (referred to by it's initials, of course), but after the first sarcastic prick uttered the term iBuddy, that's what stuck.



    Apple isn't perfect, but as seen from the outside, their corporate culture looks as healthy as anybodys
  • Reply 8 of 51
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. Me View Post


    That fact that Apple didn't have a game console and Microsoft did had nothing to do with it?



    You really think Kinect can ONLY be used for game consoles?
  • Reply 9 of 51
    shaun, ukshaun, uk Posts: 1,050member
    From what I've read Google seems a fun place to work. I'm not sure I'd like to work for Apple though. They must be like robots, working really hard whilst trying to avoid talking to anyone outside their team in case they reveal something they shouldn't. Must be quite stressful. I'm sure there are lots good things about working for Apple that we never hear about.
  • Reply 10 of 51
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    People should be allowed to get drunk and blab their employer?s secrets. Come on, it?s all good fun!
  • Reply 11 of 51
    Are you really saying this book will not be available from iBook Store? Oh, The Humanity.
  • Reply 12 of 51
    so had no interest in motion technology.



    As Tallest Skil mentioned, it could have uses other than game consoles as (recent) various Apple patents have shown with it's own motion detection technology ideas (ie, motion interaction with an iPad or Mac screen).



    If Kinect technology successfully finds it's way into other markets (ie health field/surgery) it could be a missed golden opportunity that Apple let slip away and MS had fall into it's lap.



    The fact is, Apple is now showing interest in similar tech with which it could have had a head start (like it seems to have with Siri using Nuance).
  • Reply 12 of 51
    WHAT?!! Apple is not a utopian nirvana? You have to pay directly for your lunch?! I thought those days ended when the barbarian hordes were beaten back in the dark ages. Well then, only Android products for me.
  • Reply 14 of 51
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by waldobushman View Post


    Are you really saying this book will not be available from iBook Store? Oh, The Humanity.



    http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/insi...44015286?mt=11
  • Reply 15 of 51
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,485member
    Apple has been posting bogus jobs since the 80's the practice never stopped there.



    I applies to one of those bogus posting, got turned down sent a really nasty letter at the time to the HR person who sent the reject letter and pointed out the error of their ways. Got an interview after all said, got hired, same thing never knew what I go hired to do and never interviewed for the original job posting as far as I could tell. Turns out doing something completely different than the job posting which was fine with me. Then years later when I volunteered to do on campus interview, I was handed a list of jobs they were filling and the one I applied for was in the packet. I asked the HR person if that position was still available since I was still interested. Was told oh those are not real we do not hire for specific jobs we look for pure talent not someone just interested in doing a job.



    Everyone act like this all new with apple or at least when jobs came back, It always been that way and I am not sure if these practices were Jobs doing of it just came out of how they did business.
  • Reply 16 of 51
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Conrail View Post


    I'm betting anyone who ever worked as a defense department contractor just laughs at Apple's "security". Or anyone who's ever worked on a movie, ...



    Right because movies are never leaked.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Conrail View Post


    ... Record companies were sending out sample albums in portable CD players that had been glued shut. I don't think Apple's ever done anything that paranoid.



    You'd be quite wrong about that.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Conrail View Post


    ... but after the first sarcastic prick uttered the term iBuddy, that's what stuck. ...



    You need an anger management class me thinks.
  • Reply 17 of 51
    Oh no! No free lunches!



    It's the best damn bistro/restaurante you'll ever see at any corporation. Damn fine food. A local hit was the homemade salsa that the staff would sell you to take home and put on your omelettes.



    The Paninis are awesome, not to mention every other choice of cuisine.
  • Reply 18 of 51
    kibitzerkibitzer Posts: 1,113member
    "New employees are given free lunch during their first-day orientation."



    As long as we're spreading unsubstantiated rumors and gossip, that first lunch consists of bread, water and all the gruel that new hires want to eat - just to break them in to the culture. Oops - have I revealed a secret??
  • Reply 19 of 51
    I have to say, I doubt Apple would be able to execute as well as they do if it was a dysfunctional environment (which is how this article makes it sound)...they're doing something right.
  • Reply 20 of 51
    kimghkimgh Posts: 13member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Shaun, UK View Post


    From what I've read Google seems a fun place to work. I'm not sure I'd like to work for Apple though. They must be like robots, working really hard whilst trying to avoid talking to anyone outside their team in case they reveal something they shouldn't. Must be quite stressful. I'm sure there are lots good things about working for Apple that we never hear about.



    Having worked for Apple from 2001-2003, I can say with certainty that no one there is a robot, nor is the secrecy that onerous (and I have worked for a defense contractor in the past as well, so I know something about working on secret stuff...).



    I think it's neither more nor less stressful to work at Apple than at any other tech company with high expectations from its employees. Don't kid yourself about Google: yes there are great perks, but they also have high expectations from their employees, and I'm certain that many things are secret there, also.
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