The New York Times > Business > Your Money > Digital Domain: What's Google's Secret Weapon? An Army of Ph.D.'s: "Mostly, Google has concentrated on recruiting those with a background in what you would expect: computer science. Founded by two near-Ph.D.'s who have purposely placed Ph.D.'s throughout the company, Google encourages all employees to act as researchers, by spending 20 percent of their time on new projects of their own choosing.
As we take our seats in the Coliseum to watch the latest challenger go up against mighty Microsoft, handicappers will see that Google has two advantages, one of which it has disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission: washing machines are provided at the company for employee use. The other, it has not: with a Ph.D.-centered culture, Google's co-founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, have assembled the industry's most unorthodox portfolio of human capital since Microsoft began intense recruiting of computer science majors at top undergraduate schools in the 1980's.
Microsoft has 56,000 employees, but its research group, with 700, is separate. Google has 1,900 employees, and no separate research group, so all 1,900, effectively, are charged to 'boldly go where no one has gone before' (its words). You have to like Google's chances."