Start-up perks have gotten so crazy, one company was spending $4,000 a month on kombucha

Wendy Maeda | The Boston Globe | Getty Images

In addition to great salaries, tech employees expect perks at their jobs — especially in competitive areas with a lot of start-ups. Free lunch, a casual work environment and great healthcare plans have become standard fare, especially in the Bay Area.

But to stand out, companies need to offer something above the rest. For virtual reality media company Upload in Los Angeles, it meant supporting a pricey Kombucha habit until it became untenable.

"People love it, but it was so expensive that we had to stop doing it," admitted Upload founder and CEO of Upload Taylor Freeman. "People would drink five glasses a day. It was $3,000 to $4,000 a month to have Kombucha on tap, so we had to shut it down. It was a big hit to the morale of the community."

Vevo chief people officer Colleen McCreary said that their San Francisco office offers free lunch, which can make the employees in other locations a little jealous. However, other Vevo offices have their perks. The New York office has frequent in-office musical performances, from artists like Sam Smith, Sigrid, Wyclef and Earl St. Clair. , as well as smoothie and latte barista visits.

"The food perk is certainly one that is developing around the world," McCreary said. "A lot of times it's a productivity piece, but it creates a communal feeling. I feel like there's a lot of magic that happens in that situation [when people eat together]." Perhaps most important for a company owned by the music industry: All employees get free concert tickets.

Employee training platform Grovo's New York offices gets manicures on Friday, a gym and an in-house shoe shiner. In addition, it sends employees field trips it calls "Camp Grovo" to allow employees in the concrete jungle to get some fresh air.

"We actually go outside the city into nature," said employee training platform Grovo's vice president of people Joris Luijke.

Facebook and Instagram marketing platform takes the perk concept to the next level. Four times a year, every employee flown to an all-hands company meeting. For the first few years, everyone was sent somewhere in the company's home country of Finland, but it decided to mix up the locations to give employees time to see other cities. The past trip was to Greece, and the international fall location has yet to be announced. And, while it may not have the same unlimited vacation options as other tech companies, it gives five weeks of paid vacation – which people are forced to take.’s quarterly all-hands meeting in Greece.

"We don't have free lunch," admits Anssi Rusi, chief operating officer and chief financial officer at "But we do have snacks!"