Posts Tagged culture

Ex-Googlers thoughts on working in large company like Google .

“The nature of a large company like Google is such that they reward consistent, focused performance in one area. This sounds good on the surface, but if you’re a hacker at heart like me, it’s really the death knell for your career. It means that staking out a territory and defending it is far more important than doing what it takes to get a project to its goal. It means that working on Search, APIs, UI, performance, scalability and getting each one of those pieces across the line by any means necessary is actually bad for your career.

Engineers who simply staked out one component in the codebase, and rejected patches so they could maintain complete control over design and implementation details had much greater rewards”

Goodbye to google

“If you pitch an idea or a project to Larry and Sergey, their feedback is quite easy to anticipate. They’ll tell you you have to solve the problem in a more generic way. I tried to sell them on data communities, a place where like minded people could collaborate on structured data around topics they’re interested in. The feedback was predictable: why restrict yourself to communities? And why to structured data? Come up with something that solves everything!

The problem with this for an individual engineer like me is that you can’t work with a small team on a medium sized idea, get users and expand from there anymore. You either have to pitch something as the third coming of Steve or your idea will be relegated to being a feature of something else.

Google’s mode of operation used to be best characterised as strictly opportunistic. There were certain principles and leading ideas, but any project that met those and where Google thought it could do better than what was out there, would be taken on.

No longer. Google now has strategies. Once you offer an online spreadsheet and an online word processor, strategy demands that you also offer an online solution for presentations, even if it isn’t actually much better. And you start seeing presentations with product road maps and competitive landscapes and unique selling points.

No doubt this approach suits a bigger company better. But the engineer in me wants to go back to that whiteboard; hire smart people that exploit new opportunities that become available as technology develops to build new products and services, which in turn leads to user happiness. Having a plan easily gets in the way of doing the right thing there.”

Douwe Osinga

Advertisements

Leave a Comment

Black swans of startups and science

The result, he suggests, is that science is becoming less a “bottom-up” enterprise of free-wheeling exploration — energized by the kind of thinking that led Einstein to relativity — and more a “top-down” process strongly constrained by social conformity, with scientific funding following along fashionable lines. The publish-or-perish ethic, in particular, strongly rewards those scientists doing more or less routine technical work in established fields, and punishes more risky work exploring unproven ideas that may take a considerable period of time to reach maturity. This is especially damaging given the disproportionate benefits that come from the most important discoveries, which seem to be inherently unpredictable in both timing and nature. As Taleb argues persuasively in The Black Swan, any sensible long-term strategy in a world dominated by extreme and unpredictable events has to accept, and even embrace, that unpredictability. He illustrates the idea in the financial context. People investing in venture-capital start-ups, for example, have to expect continual losses in the short term, and bank on the fact that they will ultimately make up for those losses by hitting on a few really big winners in the long run.

Source: In search of the black swans

Leave a Comment