Perks like free gourmet meals, maid service and on-site workout classes once served as a recruiting tool at hot tech startups competing to lure the best talent.

But as venture-backed startups tighten their belts, those perks are now looking more and more like a liability rather than an asset.

Dropbox is slashing amenities for employees in a cost-cutting effort that could save the company close to $38 million per year, Business Insider first reported this weekend.

According to a company email sent in March, perks on the chopping block include shuttles for its San Francisco employees, laundry service at its gym, and certain meal hours. All together, the benefits had cost the company $25,000 per head, according to the internal email cited in the report.

The company opted to keep a large chrome panda bear in its lobby “as a company-wide reminder of the importance of both our past and future in thoughtful spending,” the report said. (The panda was rumored to cost six figures, and presumably wouldn’t be an easy sell on Craigslist.)

Dropbox had been known for its generous perks: gourmet food prepared in-house, unlimited vacation time, massages, and an on-site gym (including laundry services) for its staff.

Employee reviews on Glassdoor had raved about the lifestyle benefits at the company, in particular the “5-star breakfast, lunch and dinner” provided by a commissary called Tuck Shop: “Honestly if anyone gives it, they give it and more. Tuck Shop! Massages, Gym, Laundry 401k Health, Life,” one employee wrote on Glassdoor in August 2015.

But at this point, many Bay Area investors, executives and management experts are questioning the wisdom of such generous perks.

“Particularly with the Bay Area companies, we’ve seen companies develop better lunch options just to keep up with competitors,” says Bud Caddell of NOBL, a management consultancy that advises high-growth tech companies.

Source : bizjournals.com