First, San Francisco-based commuters to Google got buses with plush seats and free WiFi. Now, they are getting security.
In recent days, men with earpieces have closely monitored passengers boarding Google commuter buses at the site of at least one bus stop in San Francisco's Mission District. Their presence comes a few weeks after Google buses were targeted by protesters who blame tech-industry employees for rising city rents.
Gone are the days when mentioning Google as an employer gave young technology workers a certain counterculture credibility. As the company has expanded well beyond its Web search-engine roots to become a behemoth encompassing advertising, smartphones, finance and social networking, it has gone from scrappy start-up to a Goliath that many resent for its power.
In San Francisco, many long-time residents believe the influx of richly compensated workers at Google and other big technology companies such as Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc has pushed rents to unaffordable levels in neighborhoods that once were homes to the working class.
(Read more: Protesters block Google bus)
Technology companies have grown more aware of the tensions. They recently reached an agreement with the city of San Francisco governing the use of municipal bus stops. Google recently began to experiment with a privately chartered boat that can transport some of its employees living in San Francisco to its offices.
And Google may be taking extra steps to protect its workers at the bus stops it uses in San Francisco.