Bay Area companies top list of best places to work


#1 is Google, where every employee is a stockholder and the company donates $50 for every five hours its workers volunteer. They've even launched a ferry service to get people to work.

#7 on the list,, has doubled its work force in the past two years, and its people are motivated by recognition programs and lavish incentives. Last year's top sellers earned a trip to Bhutan.

A fifth Bay Area company moved up to the Top 10 after 13 years on the Top 100 list. Financial software company Intuit is now #8.

Competition is fierce among Bay Area tech companies for engineers and other talent. Intuit offers the usual amenities, from trainer-led exercise classes, to cafes with healthy eating options. However, Intuit, which makes tax and financial software, has a different management style it thinks makes it a great place to work.

"I serve 8,000 employees, that's my job," CEO Brad Smith said. "I work for them, and the entire senior leadership team believes the same thing. We try to put a death to PowerPoints, politics and persuasions. We let the meritocracy, the best idea, come out."

Komal Bhatia has been an Intuit software engineer for three years. The inverted management chart has empowered her to test and implement her own ideas.

"A lot of innovation happens from bottoms up, rather than tops down, which means that if I have an idea, I can suggest it to my peers, to my manager," Bhatia said. "There's a way to test it with customers, validate the idea, and if it's good, you get good feedback, you can actually go ahead and implement it."

Those ideas can also lead to an annual innovation prize. Two years ago, an employee was awarded $1 million.

Perks include having four hours of paid time a week to work on personal projects and money for health-related expenses.

"Every year we have $650 that we can use to get reimbursed for like health and exercise lessons," software engineer Alice Wu said. "I've actually used that to get certified to go scuba diving, which is amazing."

While the company has broken into the Top 10 for the first time this year, some employees are setting a goal to take the top spot next year.

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