Re: Just because _you're_ all jaded...
OK, you're obviously not the world's biggest optimist when it comes to workplace satisfaction or the idea that a large company could conceivably give a shit about its' employess. Nice turn of phrase with "naive idiot" btw, an exemplary indication of your open-mindedness.
Look up how Gore-Tex organises its' company to see how a large company can think small, grow and still engender employee loyalty.
If google has, or had, one iota of belief in the strategy which James Whittaker says he saw and believed in (remember, he's not a "naive idiot", he's a fricking professor), then they believed that innovation pulled people in to use their services, and they made money from the ads that were viewed and clicked on. They fostered that environment for their staff and allowed them the "room to fail" - or succeed. That's the kind of work environment where engineers at the sharp end of the business thrive, if they're creative, engaged individuals.
A creative, engaged and enthusiastic individual with skills will move mountains for the sake of it to prove themselves and their idea. I agree that soulless corps are a great place to become cynical as hell about company motivation, though.
Sounds to me like your workplace is less than opimtal. Mine is pretty good, we do have some leeway to make a difference - but you have to retain the enthusiasm to do so. And you know what? When you do, you try stuff out: you get noticed, things people didn't even know needed doing get done.
So don't go shouting "bollocks" unless you're willing to engage intelligently in a debate on the relationship between an employee and the company they work for.
BTW I've never applied to work at Google either (did get headhunted once, but politely turned it down). Mr Whittaker's experience doesn't make me think I'd apply now.