Booze Makes Comeback at Silicon Valley Start-Ups

on 14/03/11 at 11:10 am

Booze News

At Yelp Inc.’s San Francisco headquarters, a keg refrigerator provides a never-ending supply of beer to employees, letting them drink as much as they like.

They just have to be comfortable with full disclosure: Workers badge in to an iPad application attached to the keg that records every ounce they drink.

“If you’re at the top of the leader board consistently, I don’t know if that’s a place that you’d want to be,” said Eric Singley, director of Yelp consumer and mobile products. “Luckily, that hasn’t really even been an issue.”

In a contemporary version of “Mad Men” and its bibulous ad executives, more dot-coms are embracing the idea of drinking at work. That means keeping bars stocked at all hours, installing kegerators and letting programmers tip back a few while they code. It also raises questions about the effect of alcohol on productivity and the safety of employees.

“Alcohol is sort of a slippery slope, because obviously you’d think it might impair their performance,” said Dalton Conley, social sciences dean and professor at New York University. “Many people can work after one beer, but I doubt many people can do serious knowledge work very productively after four or five.”

While office parties and Friday-night beer busts are nothing new, the all-hours nature of startups means more employees blend their nightlife with work time. Drinking is an extension of that, said Joe Beninato, chief executive officer of Tello Inc., an app developer in Palo Alto, California.

‘We’re All Adults’

“When you’re working at a startup, you’re working 24-7 and it takes over your life,” he said. “It’s not like it’s a wild fraternity party or something like that — we’re all adults.”

{Full story via Bloomberg}

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