Note: this is my first post on Medium — be gentle :). I’m staring at my badge that I’ll be turning in tomorrow, and decided I must share my thoughts before my next gig consumes 100% of my time. These thoughts are my own personal opinions, and do not reflect or represent Google’s opinions or plans.
Let’s start from the end: after almost 6.5 years, I’m leaving what’s IMO the best company in the world to work for. This was my longest stint at any one company. I’m leaving to pursue a high-risk high-reward opportunity with a company that’s disrupting personal finance.
I joined Google Cloud before it was even a platform, and I’m one of the PMs that has spent the longest tenure in Cloud. I’d like to share what I’ve seen over the years and what I expect to see in years to come.
But first, I’d like to tell you why leaving Google is so difficult.
Many people mention great perks and benefits, like free food and four month maternity leaves (unfortunately my 3 boys were born before I’ve joined Google — I only had a couple of days to bond with them!). Not to mention great salaries and a stock that’s rock solid. Young professionals might place a larger weight on these, but they get so much more “free” stuff that’s going to greatly impact their development and future careers. I wish on all my boys to start their careers at Google — because Google provides accelerated learning and development into the most important fields of tech.
1.Heaven for engineers and product managers: the engineering and PM levels at Google are very high. Don’t get me wrong — not everyone is a rockstar. But on average, you can rely on your colleagues to tackle tough problems together, and get hard sh*t done. This is because:
- Google has some of the best software development tools and processes in the industry. This is acknowledged by SWEs joining from other tech companies.
- There’s no shortage of smarts and experience to learn from. I didn’t have to venture far from my desk to find someone smarter than me. And the advice and experience available in the product org is amazing.
- There’s so much focus on personal development. Mentorships, docs from leaders in the field, educational programs and courses. All free and readily available to everyone. Which means with time, people level up.
2. The best culture money can’t buy: the first weeks after I joined two things struck me:
- Information is openly available. At TGIF (weekly gatherings with Google founders and execs) I learned about plans and products that were secret to outsiders (later I learned about the leaks that threaten this openness).
- People want to help and collaborate — and generally are nice to each other. This isn’t just from my immediate team members, or people that I pinged on chat and immediately responded. This includes internal forums for just about everything: coding, parenting, biking, investing, you name it. And I immediately got the sense Googlers go out of their way to be helpful.
In addition, the culture rewards excellence and innovation, encourages saying “thank you” in public, and promotes great ideas and efforts.
There’s a feeling that people are generally “good”, which why I was completely blindsided (like many others) by the infamous memo of last year. Regardless of where you stand in the conversation, Google treats its employees with unbelievable fairness, especially when compared to other tech firms. Trust me, I’ve been around the block.
3. Innovation and scale all wrapped into one: I crack up whenever I read that some people think Google isn’t innovative anymore. Firstly, the most important field in tech today — Machine Learning — is led by Google, which is several years ahead of its nearest competition. I don’t want to put other companies down — they’re also very innovative. But in the field of AI/ML, nobody comes close. Not in technology and not in the raw numbers of quality engineering talent. Now think of all the things Google applies ML to, like self driving cars, assistant, search, etc. If that’s not innovation — what is?
To find scale, all I need to do is look at the main apps I use throughout my day: Maps, Photos, Chrome, YouTube, Gmail, Search. AFAIK all of these are irreplaceable. Yes, there are alternatives* — but for me, switching means negative impact on my day-to-day.
*I don’t really think there’s an alternative to YouTube. It’s unique. I’ve also spent a short stint working on YouTube data infrastructure, and I can say that the org culture/vibe and the people are pretty amazing.