Business Opinions Tech

Working At Google Is Not As Great As You May Think

TechCrunch as a very interesting post today about why Google employees quit. Google’s HR department interviewd a group of ex-employees and asked them why they quit the company. Read some of the authentic posts to the thread below and think about it for a minute. I love how some of them are so sad they quit MicroSoft for Google, thinking it was gonna be the promised land. By the way, I still stick to my prediction that you will hate Google within a few years from now.

From: Stephen
Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 13:25:07 -0700 (PDT)
Local: Wed, May 28 2008 2:25 pm
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

Actually, I hit the Send button on this before I intended to.
I left Microsoft to work for Google in 2005. I stayed 10 months. I
was demoralized. I shouldn’t have ever taken that job. I was
disenchanted the whole time, and yes, like you, my regret over the
poor bargain I’d made affected my performance.

As I was saying. Google actually celebrates its hiring process, as if
its ruthless inefficiency and interminable duration were a sure proof
of thoroughness, a badge of honor. Perhaps it is thorough. But I
would be willing to wager that Microsoft’s hiring process, which takes
a fraction of the time, does not result in a lower-skilled workforce
or result in a higher rate of attrition. And let me say this: if
Larry Page is still reviewing resumes, shareholders should organize a
rebellion. That is a scandalous waste of time for someone at that
level, and the fact that it’s “quirky” is no mitigation.

I was, like you, offered a considerable pay cut to go to work at
Google. The relocation package was lame. So were the benefits. (I
had worked at Microsoft. Microsoft was self-insured, so there were no

In one TGIF in Kirkland, an employee informed Eric Schmidt that
Microsoft’s benefits package was richer. He announced himself
genuinely surprised, which genuinely surprised me. Schmidt, in the
presence of witnesses, promised to bring the benefits to a par. He
consulted HR, and HR informed him that it’d cost Google 22 million a
year to do that. So he abandoned the promise and fell back on his
tired, familiar standby (”People don’t work at Google for the money.
They work at Google because they want to change the world!”). A
statement that always seemed to me a little Louis XIV coming from a

I still can’t recall all the moralizing postures without a shudder of

From: Ben
Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 14:43:09 -0700
Local: Wed, May 28 2008 3:43 pm
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

Stephen wrote:
> He
> consulted HR, and HR informed him that it’d cost Google 22 million a
> year to do that. So he abandoned the promise and fell back on his
> tired, familiar standby (”People don’t work at Google for the money.
> They work at Google because they want to change the world!”). A
> statement that always seemed to me a little Louis XIV coming from a
> billionaire.

I ran into a similar irritation while at Google, actually – during that
time when the minikitchens were being stripped heavily. I heard that one
of the reasons was cost – I remember figures mentioned like “thousands
of dollars per day” – and it just didn’t jive well with me.

I mean, look at the profit numbers. Google’s net income for 2006, when I
left, was 3 billion. 22 million a year? Less than 1% of their *profit*.
“Thousands of dollars a day”? Even if it’s ten thousand, that’s still
well under 1%.

Reduce profit by 2% to make your employees much happier . . . well, I
know what I’d choose. In some ways it seemed like Google was getting
increasingly pennywise/poundfoolish, and that just seemed like a dubious

(Although, to Google’s credit, they opened up a new cafe that solved
many of my food-related issues . . . after I left. Sigh.)


From: Ted
Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 17:39:06 -0700 (PDT)
Local: Wed, May 28 2008 6:39 pm
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

Sounds familiar (I was at Kirkland too.)
Google took longer than any company I ever worked for to get thru the
hiring process (approx 5 months from resume to job start.)

The interview process was very mixed: They had me slated as a Windows
Developer for some reason, tho everyone on my interview loop wondered
why. I flubbed my first coding pretty bad but after that it was clear
that no-one on my interview loop had enough experience or knowledge to
level me. On the other hand they figured that out and scheduled a
follow on interview with the head of the Kirkland office who asked
reasonable and pertinent questions.

Unlike the previous posters, I was happy with my salary and (for some
reason I can’t articulate) I kept my own private medical insurance…

Also I was surprised that Google seemed to be proud that they didn’t
communicate from one interviewer to the next: at Microsoft it was a
good opportunity to find more appropriate interviewers, etc. if a
person seemed misslated. Oh well, I thought my interview and hiring
process was an anomaly.

From: Laurent
Date: Thu, 29 May 2008 08:10:08 -0700 (PDT)
Local: Thurs, May 29 2008 9:10 am
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

I also left Google after only 5 months.

As soon as I got inside, I had the feeling of being swallowed by a
giant borg :)

Really, I felt like I didn’t exist, watching people buzzing around
with laptops.

I did however meet with Larry and Sergey during a product review
meeting, and have only good things to say about these 2 guys.

Regarding compensation, I did have to negotiate quite a bit to get on
par with what I earned before.

For options however, I didn’t get much (something like 180 options and
330 gsu).

What was strange with me at Google was: while outside, I had all these
big ideas I could do if I ever worked there.

Once inside, you have 18,000 (at the time, Feb 2008) other googlers
thinking the same things.

I think it’s a good move for them to have App Engine: they won’t need
to hire that many people anymore, or buy small garage-guys because
now developers will be able to develop over the Google OS for free for
Google :)

One last thing: Google also thinks inside a box (the browser). I felt
this a lot, and was another reason I left. (too constrained)

It’s no surprise that they push to extend what the browser can do.
(Gears, Earth plugin)


From: “shuba
Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 22:01:06 -0500
Local: Wed, May 28 2008 9:01 pm
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

Hi Friends,

Yes, I do agree with Stephen about HR. I totally second the statement that
Google’s Hiring process is slack. Agreed, they receive a record number of
applications everyday, but still the feeling that the resume is lost in a
‘black hole’ when there is no reply in as long as 6 months, is terribly
disappointing. Also, the whole exit process could be bettered and ironed

I understand when Eric Schmidt says, one doesn’t work for Google for the
money alone. Job with Google is sure an experience. But, yes, bringing the
perks on par with other bigwigs will bring down the attrition level to some
extent, thou we all do understand that attrition is not a big problem for
Google right now.

Keep writing!


From: Shelby
Date: Thu, 29 May 2008 10:26:39 -0700 (PDT)
Local: Thurs, May 29 2008 11:26 am
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

I had an equally ridiculous hiring process – although mine actually
seemed normal (by Google standards) until the result. “And let me
say this: if Larry Page is still reviewing resumes, shareholders
should organize a rebellion. That is a scandalous waste of time for someone at that
level, and the fact that it’s “quirky” is no mitigation. ” – this
couldn’t be more true.

My experience actually in Aug. 2004 when I was interviewing for a
sales position in the Seattle office was the typical 13+ interviews,
including a day trip to MV where I was told that someone would take me
to lunch and instead she took me in a conf. room and interviewed me.
So I ended up not eating at all that day until I returned to the
airport at 4pm. However, I passed my interviews with flying colors
and was surprised 3 weeks later when I still hadn’t heard from my
recruiter about the results of the hiring committee meeting. Finally
he called to tell me that I was rejected because I was currently
working as a Flight Attendant. A job I had started 4 months prior
because it was a great opportunity to move into their management group
but then the airlines started downsizing management and so I applied
for the Google Travel Sales role instead. However, apparently the
elitist hiring committee members believed that FA’s are stupid and
there was no way they would be able to work at Google. Lucky for me
the recruiter agreed it was incredibly sexist and fought with HR to
bring me on as a temp. Three months later they resubmitted me to the
committee and had me remove my former job – instead I mentioned that I
was “traveling” for four months and bingo! I got hired full time. 3+
years later I was promoted twice and named a Google Luminary! Good
think Larry is such an excellent judge of character.

I have to say though, that level of bureaucracy remained pretty much
the whole time I was at Google. I finally left after a lifestyle
change moved me to Austin and they re-nigged on an offer to move me
into the Travel Vertical role for which I was promised before the
move. It’s a real bummer because I loved my co-workers and there are
a ton of great people at Google. But the management has no power to
influence change because they are micromanaged by the Execs.
I’m very happy at my new company though – making twice as much and
enjoying the benefits of a start-up culture again.

From: issara
Date: Fri, 30 May 2008 08:50:45 -0700 (PDT)
Local: Fri, May 30 2008 9:50 am
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

I was hired to work in Google’s Singapore office. I found out very
quickly that Google International is not the same as Google-US. The
offered pay was way too low to survive in Singapore, so I left after I
got another job offer that I felt was better for me. I really do
believe that Google is doing some important work with humanitarian
mapping projects and digitizing libraries. But for me, I felt that
Google’s popular image did not match its actions in the work place,
and that some of the things they did were not very “Googly.”


From: “Lisa
Date: Fri, 30 May 2008 15:16:20 -0700
Local: Fri, May 30 2008 4:16 pm
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

I’m enjoying this group and this thread.

I had a far different hiring experience — it moved too
quickly! I wasn’t actually ready to leave my previous position, but
when the Google recruiter called, it would have been silly not to talk
to her.

I had one full day of MV in-person interviews, a few phone
conversations, and the next thing I know, they’re calling me to
present an offer. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have accepted it. I spent
all of 11 days working at Google before I returned to my previous (now
current ;-) company.

I wish I had asked more questions and asked to meet the team I’d be
managing (at least some of them!) before I jumped on board, but
Google’s reputation as an employer is legendary. At the time, I felt
conflicted, but then I’d think “Google wants me, and everyone knows
how hard it is to get hired there. I should jump on this opportunity.”
I don’t bear any ill will — I think Google is an amazing company, is
doing some revolutionary things, and is full of smart people. And I
bought shares in 2004, so I hope they continue to be very successful.


From: Pam
Date: Fri, 30 May 2008 15:39:04 -0700 (PDT)
Local: Fri, May 30 2008 4:39 pm
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

I have been sitting back, surprised at the level of negativity
expressed by those on this thread, and wanted to share my very
different experience. Sure, Google isn’t perfect, its management isn’t
perfect, the HR department isn’t perfect, etc, but by and large they
do things better/smarter/friendlier than the vast majority of
companies out there.

My hiring process back in 2003 was, like some of yours, somewhat drawn
out, and I was made to contract for almost 4 months before being
hired, but Google gave me a chance, and I gave Google a chance. And
I’m so glad.

Forget about the cool products I worked on over the years that are on
the cutting edge of technology and impacting millions of people. We’re
mostly talking about work/life balance and job satisfaction. I get
such a kick out of thinking about the incredible stuff I got to do
while at Google (watch Barack Obama/Al Gore/Hillary Clinton/Colin
Powell/Malcolm Gladwell/Jimmy Carter speak, go to a trapeze class,
hear John Legend play in Charlie’s cafe, go to a chocolate trufflemaking
class, ski on Google’s dime year after year in Tahoe, to name
just a few), not to mention enjoy a work environment at Google that
was informal, comfortable, safe, and supportive — so different from
the work environments of my friends in other industries or at other

I wonder if post-Google bitterness is correlated to when you joined
and/or how long you were at Google. It seems that it is. Maybe it’s
the memories of Google in the first few years I was there that make it
it seem magical, but I really do treasure the time I spent at Google.
I left a few weeks ago, after almost 5 years at the company, because I
wanted to pursue a markedly different career path. Sure, I had times
when I was frustrated with the way Google was doing things, or when I
felt that my particular project, or assignment was lacking, and I
definitely had managers that I didn’t enjoy. But all in all — what a
freakin’ amazing experience!
And, separately, regarding the compensation issue, it seems to me that
Google would do their research and pay market wages high enough to
attract the best. If good candidates refuse to take the jobs because
the wages aren’t high enough to live on, they’d be forced to raise

From: “Logan
Date: Fri, 30 May 2008 15:56:47 -0700
Local: Fri, May 30 2008 4:56 pm
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

I experienced the same painful hiring process all of you did. The
reputation of Google is why I worked there for three and a half years. I
took pride in where I worked and the work I was doing. I knew I could get
paid more elsewhere but the caliber of people to my left and right was
amazing. I learned a lot and have benefited from the time I spent at

When asked by friends and family why I was leaving I came up with an
automobile analogy.

One auto has a 5 star crash safety rating, with good gas mileage, low
maintenance costs and good performance. Another, has bluetooth for your
mobile phone, 10 cup holders, sexy looking instrument panel, premium sound
system, DVD player and seat warmer but has poor gas mileage, poor
performance, bad safety rating, expensive maintenance, etc.

Some will make a purchasing decision on what really matters; safety,
performance, serviceability. Some will make a purchase based on “how many
cup holders the car has”. Google is the car with all the sexy features
but very little of what really matters. The amenities,extra-curricular(s)
and conversastion peice of “working for Google” is what keeps most
working at Google.

My $.02

From: Ted
Date: Fri, 30 May 2008 16:27:35 -0700
Local: Fri, May 30 2008 5:27 pm
Subject: RE: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

My bitterness is almost entirely because of my manager. He was in my
orientation group in Mt. View and seemed like a good egg at the time. Just
as Google can be a great place for the software engineer to do great work
unencumbered, it’s also possible for a manger to be a complete jerk
unencumbered. Tho the other members of the group (that didn’t leave sooner)
thought that they could put up with anything to work at Google they did
notice my manager’s particular irrationality when dealing with me. There
were only two days of my six months there that I didn’t dread going to work.
My manager made sure that no other manager would talk to me and as soon as
the head of the office left town he tried to put me on a PIP. Life is too
short to deal with jerks so I felt I had no choice but to leave.
I do believe that I could have really enjoyed myself at the home office or
with a different manager, etc. but I wasn’t given the choice of what to work
on nor who to work for.


From: “Greg
Date: Fri, 30 May 2008 20:29:18 -0400
Local: Fri, May 30 2008 6:29 pm
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

I wonder how much of a difference there is between
engineering/non-engineering and MV/non-MV, in addition to the
old-timer/non-old-timer split.

I started working at Google a while ago as an engineer when there was
only the Mountain View office. (If I recall correctly, the NY sales
office opened later that month.) Google certainly seemed like an
ideal place to work at the time, and if I wanted to be an engineer,
I’d probably still want to work there. But there were certainly
issues, even back then, and I believe they’ve mostly gotten worse as
the company has grown.

The hiring process:
Google’s hiring process tends to have a lot of false negatives. If I
had submitted my resume myself, rather than getting recommended by an
employee, I don’t know if I would have gotten in. My GPA was a 3.7,
and the cutoff (at least at one point in Google’s history) was 3.8 (I
went to a tough school, the 6th 4.0 GPA in its history just graduated
this year). I honestly don’t know if this cap is still there (I
suspect not) but this is just one way Google arbitrarily cut down on
the number of people interviewed.

After I had been working, I found out that I was lucky that one of the
members of my team hadn’t interviewed me. My C++ skills weren’t
really all that great, since I hadn’t used C++ in a couple of years,
and I would have totally failed if he had interviewed me. He told me
that he would have been wrong to do so, since I actually ended up
replacing him on the team and automating most of what he had been
doing by hand, so I hope that my example helped make at least one
interviewer a little more reasonable. But the old-timers certainly
felt like they had to have tough interviews, and in many cases “tough”
equated to things like trivia questions or brain teasers, neither of
which are completely relevant to what people were being interviewed

The Google lifestyle:
Food at Mountain View in the early days was great. Things got a bit
crazy when Charlie was cooking in the same tiny kitchen that he had
cooked for 70 people in when there were something like 400 people
eating in the cafe, although the food quality didn’t go down nearly as
much as I would have expected it to. But this was just one of many
examples of overcrowding in the offices that happened over the years
at Google. (And honestly, keeping the cooks happy seemed like a good
idea to me…)

But along with the food came the Google lifestyle: if you were staying
for dinner, it better be because you were working afterwards. It was
frowned upon to leave right after dinner. I think a lot of people
spent quite a bit of time either just before or just after dinner
hanging out and not really being all that productive, which is nice
for the mostly 20-something crowd, but I can sympathize with the
people who have families that didn’t fit in. I had my own reasons for
not wanting to hang out at work, so I never really got that far into
the Google social scene. And my experience was that the people who
spent all their time at Google were the ones that ended up on the
sexier projects or in charge of things. (Admittedly, some of these
people were also workaholics, and I wasn’t willing to give up some of
my non-work social activities, but there seemed to be a bit of
favoritism going on as well.)

Engineers and everyone else:
Unlike most other engineers, I had a job that required me to talk to
people all over the company. I talked to the lawyers, marketing, PR,
product managers, executives, engineers… And because I started
early enough, I also knew quite a few people in sales. As far as
salary went, my offer was 35% higher than my next highest job offer,
so I think I lucked out there. That was certainly not the normal
situation, though. Over the years I talked to plenty of people about
what they thought about Google’s compensation… There’s a huge
discrepancy between engineers and non-engineers. Most of the adwords
support people I talked to complained a lot about their situation.
Not only were they generally overqualified for the jobs (given what
the work actually was, but Google has always prided itself on having
people with extra education) but they could fairly easily have gotten
higher-paying jobs elsewhere. The usual reason for sticking around
that I heard was that after a few years at Google, their resume would
look a lot better on the job market.

And that’s not counting the people who are contractors. I never
understood why all of the recruiters were contractors, given that
Google showed no signs of slowing down its hiring. All this meant was
that a lot of the recruiters had to spend a lot of time training new
recruiters, since they were replaced so frequently. (This, I think,
goes at least partway for explaining why the hiring process was
occasionally a bit slow.)

My biggest pet peeve was the management, or lack thereof, at Google.
I went through many managers in my first few years. I ended up having
at least one manager during this time that was an unpopular manager,
and because of that, I was told many times over that I shouldn’t
bother trying to get a promotion. When I left, I had never been
re-slotted. This, in spite of the fact that my technical judgment was
respected enough that I occasionally delayed launches until their
logging systems were operating correctly. And in spite of the fact
that I essentially consulted to other technical groups. I could go on
about this for a while, but then I might actually sound like I was

Remote offices
I worked in Mountain View for 3 years before moving to New York.
Around that time, I started traveling a lot: I had college alumni
activities in southern California, so I occasionally worked out of
Santa Monica, and my brother lived in Seattle, so I worked in Kirkland
a few times. The “Google experience” is substantially different
outside of Mountain View. And being outside of the Mountain View
culture bubble makes it that much harder to get taken seriously. I
honestly have no idea what it’s like to work for Google outside of the
US, but even when you’re only 3 time zones away, it’s sometimes hard
to get noticed by Mountain View.

This e-mail has gotten a lot longer than I really meant it to. But my
point is that there are plenty of good reasons people can have
negative impressions of working at Google. Just like there are plenty
of good reasons people have great experiences there.

From: “Lilly
Date: Fri, 30 May 2008 23:36:36 -0700
Local: Sat, May 31 2008 12:36 am
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

I left to go to do a PhD. I liked the work I was doing at Googlea and, like
Pam, I treasure the time I had there, but I also left exhausted and
processing a lot of stress. I joined in June 2003 as an intern and 6 months
later, my amazing manager, Jen, made me a full-time offer without any
additional interviews. HR worked with me to make sure I could finish school
and continue working at Google. I really felt like they had my back and my
best interests in mind.

I think for me, some of the trouble was the crazy unaccountable product
strategy processes that would tell you to work on high risk things on the
one hand, but would hold you back for taking those chance on the other. I
worked on Google Page Creator from the time it was just a 20% prototype and
I also spent a lot of time believing in and doing some a lot of work to make
Google Notebook something successful. I’m not sure taking on those
high-risk, challenging projects was a good idea in the long run, but nobody
told me “hey, we don’t think this project is really worth the resources.”
I’m sort of a heart-and-soul into project person so this meant that I spent
a lot of energy trying to good work on high-risk projects I believed in, but
through the inconsistent support and wavering strategies I had no direct
control over, I felt like a lot of my energy got wasted.

There was also a big management overhaul on our team about a year before I
left and I felt like my team spent so much time trying to figure what was
coming down the pipe next, who was leaving next, etc that it wasted a lot of
energy. In user-experience design, there are a lot of smart, capable people
who have to sort of surf the waves of having a really unclear relationship
with product management.

But on the upside, I really did take advantage of 20% time. In the first two
years, I really felt rewarded and appreciated for my work and in the last
two years, I at least felt respected if not rewarded. Many days at work were
really intellectually stimulating. And despite the management / exec
culture being weird, I felt like Google’s managers are really among the top
in terms of not being corporate world pillagers.

I had decided I wanted to go grad school in my first year at Google, but it
was fun enough that I delayed going *twice* (that was a really awkward set
of deferrals).

But in the end, I was pretty tired of the constant change, the inconsistent
management, and I wasn’t sure if the kinds of people old Google hired –
wearing many hats and workng butts off to take ownership of project’s
success — is the kind of person new Google needed — people who were better
able to step in line to keep the company marching under control. I was part
of the chaos generation.

From: Luqman
Date: Sun, 1 Jun 2008 01:34:53 -0700 (PDT)
Local: Sun, Jun 1 2008 2:34 am
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

It looks like most of us have same story to tell….

My case resembles that of Bob ….

It took two months(lesser than others I guess) for my hiring process
to complete, and I made it clear that I had an offer from IBM in hand
which was paying me good … but I was offered the same salary as my
previous employer … which always kept me de-motivated throughout my
tenure. I joined the job due to company’s name and reputation as well
as I had the option to work in day shifts.

There was no proper mentoring for 6 months and within 9 months of my
tenure my manager was not happy with my performance, and mgmt always
stressed on “Putting some Extra Effort” – in other words “Spending
some extra hours” … this may not be the case at Google-MV but this
is what it is in India.

If you don’t put extra hours then you won’t get promoted, no promotion
means no salary hike.

I feel sad about my decision on choosing Google over IBM … Small
pay, No work, No Team spirit, No Hike in 12 months, No balance between
Family Life and work are few things which motivated my move out. I am
still jobless after 5 moths of leaving Google, but I am happy with my
decision(I feel like it is better be jobless than work for google as a
Field Tech).

Coming to the positive side, I enjoyed helping fellow googlers fixing
their PCs or Laptops and helping them with their queries. But Field
Techs have to do all the crap apart from some good work.
I like Logan’s example … good decision.


From: “Marc
Date: Sun, 1 Jun 2008 09:22:03 +0200
Local: Sun, Jun 1 2008 1:22 am
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

I agree with Pam. I started working for Google in 2002 in Amsterdam to set
up the Dutch and Belgium Sales office and these years were the best of my

I had to wait 9 months before they hired me, but it was definately worth is.

I had only three interviews then, but number three was Omid, so I might have
been lucky back then. But waiting for 9 months was a challenge as well, but
I knew at that time that Google was something very special, so I had the
patience to wait and it was definately worth it!

I agree that the process of hiring is a pain in the behind, but i also agree
that the hiring process should be hard as Goolge should keep up the process
hiring people that are smarter than yourself. There aren’t many companies in
the world that have so many smart and ambitious people.

The challenge is to keep up the energy within the company and enterpreneurial
part and give people the opportunity to grow within the company. I do agree
that the HR process has always been tough and I do agree that that should
change. I do think too that Google is in the process of decentralising more
and providing management with more authority, also ouside of US.
But don’d forget that Google has existed only for almost 10 years with about
16,000 employees and a 20B dollar company and then you have growing pains as

With these numbers and the fact that Google has a model where
you look closely at teh high performers and the quality of employees is
extremely high, you have issues where you cannot make everyone happy at the
same time. It’s a lot about numbers as well and we must admit Google is
pretty good at numbers, right? :-)

Again, I worked for Google for 5.5 years and I had a great time growing from
a small company of like 500-600 people to 16,000 now.

Again, I agree that HR should be more decentralised and not all be approved
out of MV as the current long process of approvals from MV and little
authority from local offices causes pain and time and influences the spirit
within the company negatively.

And having worked for Google and leaving Google the right way without any
issues should be a great jump in your career as with Google the knowledge is
huge and not many other companies I know has this knowledge, so use that as
good as you can!

From: “Phil
Date: Thu, 5 Jun 2008 12:38:10 -0700
Local: Thurs, Jun 5 2008 1:38 pm
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

On Mon, Jun 2, 2008 at 5:30 PM, Dan wrote:
> I’m somewhat tempted to reply with my own list, but I’m curious ..
> what’s going to happen with all this info? Not obviously useful if no
> one is going to do anything with it (e.g., gather and post a summary
> back to the board, bring it to someone who cares).

At this point I think that the executive committee knows that there
are people out there holding these opinions. In fact, I was at a
couple of TGIFs where Larry and Sergey addressed questions about the
hiring process and others where other execs talked about why they were
making it harder for people to switch projects even though we’d been
bragging externally that it was easy. I thought long and hard about
how to talk about that during interviews. I think that a big part of
is is that Googlers are supposed to be totally “A” players who just
always make things work out well. And there’s some truth to that: for
each of us here with a bitter story to tell there are other people who
landed in pretty much the exact same situation and ended up loving it
(and a lot more who put up with it and kept their mouths shut). So,
until it gets hard for Google to hire top talent, I don’t think the
kind of complaints that have been raised here will become a priority
at the Googleplex.

There’s still a lot of value in this conversation though, if not for
Google, then for the participants. Those of us who failed to thrive at
Google are faced with some pretty serious questions about ourselves.
Just seeing that other people ran into the same issues is a huge
relief. Google is supposed to be some kind of Nirvana, so if you can’t
be happy there how will you ever be happy? It’s supposed to be the
ultimate font of technical resources, so if you can’t be productive
there how will you ever be productive? The truth is that Google can be
a really horrible place to work if you happen to run up against its
shortcomings. Not liking it and/or not being successful there is not a
good indicator of personal competence (and if you think about it you
may realize that some Googlers are successful despite being
incompetent, so it works the other way too.) With so much positive
press about Google it is very difficult to put a negative experience
there in perspective. This thread serves to balance the picture and
gives us a, sometimes badly needed, lens through which to view our
experience at Google and re-evaluate ourselves.

I think that it’s painful for some Google alum to read these posts
when their own experiences were so positive and their sense of loyalty
to Google runs so deep. I think that it would be a mistake to become
cynical about Google. Something truly unique and magical happened
there and may still be happening for all I know. But the magic was
neither universal nor unflawed, and the Google experience left some of
us with open wounds. I was going to say that it would be Googly to be
respectful of that, but to be honest, Google culture just isn’t that
mature. Not yet anyway. Nevertheless, the most positive thing for
those of us who are interested in this thread to do is to understand
and respect the experiences described here. Doing so will, in a small
way, strengthen our own careers as well as those of the people around
us. And eventually some little bit of the learning we do here will
inevitably seep back into Google and do some good after all.

From: Aaron
Date: Thu, 12 Jun 2008 13:48:41 -0700 (PDT)
Local: Thurs, Jun 12 2008 2:48 pm
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

My previous employer was sinking fast, and Google seemed like a good
opportunity to get out.

First, I was really disappointed with the salary that Google offered.
During negotiations, they accommodated me a little, but not much. I
was barely making more than I had been in the midwest, and the
difference in CA state taxes wiped out almost all of that. Then
there’s rent. My wife and I don’t have any debt, we pay cash for our
cars, we live in a modest apartment, we only have one small child, and
we don’t travel or live a luxurious lifestyle. Yet we were already
dipping into savings during the second month just to pay the bills.
Part of it was certainly my fault; I shouldn’t have accepted such a
low offer.

The relocation and hiring bonus’ stated values were pre-tax! That was
a huge unexpected blow to the pocketbook. It may sound strange to
some, but Google’s the only company that has ever done that to me.
Again, that’s mostly my fault; I made a naive assumption.

The relocation company told us it would take 8-12 days to get our
stuff. It took 14 days. We managed as best we could for almost 2
weeks with a 1-month-old baby in an apartment with no furniture, no
extra clothes, and a rental car. Google should have taken more
responsibility and initiative on this, but they stood very much
aloof. Their only other option was the corporate housing option (move
twice!). If I had known it would be this bad, I would have rented my
own truck for 1/3 of what Google paid the moving company. I can drive
from Indiana in 3 days; I’ve done it many times.

Anyway, Google should know that good engineers are in high demand.
They get their market value, especially in the Bay Area. So after
only 3 months at Google, I was aggressively recruited by another
company that offered 2x my base salary (which has been increased
repeatedly since then). The company also wanted to hire me to do what
I am most skilled at doing, and I could never say that about Google.
I took the job. I get invitations to interview at companies regularly
(Apple contacted me most recently) but I turn them down every time. I
like what I’m doing, I believe I’m well-paid, and we just released a
very successful product.

There are nice things about Google. I met some intelligent and good
people that will be lifelong friends. I got to see Ron Paul speak,
and I have many fond memories. The bureaucracy and authoritarian
“gods of coding rules and regulations” were crippling for an
experienced developer, but are probably just the right thing for
someone green out of college. To me, the food wasn’t that big of a
deal. It was good, but I’m not much of an eater. However, I was
really disappointed when the hot chocolate started disappearing from
the mini-kitchens. I hope that 20 cents a day was worth it to them!
As a full-time employee I prefer a good salary to graduallyevaporating
fringe benefits and arbitrarily-sized bonuses. I started
out in the dot-com boom, and I’ve seen those empty promises go
unfulfilled time and time again.

I’m not bitter anymore; just disappointed that Google didn’t come
close to what I thought it would be.

From: Juliette
Date: Fri, 1 Aug 2008 10:54:42 -0700
Local: Fri, Aug 1 2008 11:54 am
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

Google was my first job out of college. I was an English major at a
prestigious college and was hired to work in HR. That is one of the problems
I had with Google right there – is it really necessary to hire Ivy League
graduates to process paperwork? I went from reading Derrida to processing
“Status Change Request Forms” for X employees to go on paid leave. The term
“Status Change Request Form” will forever haunt me.

The company is – unquestionably – an amazing business model. Despite the
gripes some people may have at Google, employees are Google are coddled much
more than at most other companies. I left after working at Google about six
months (left without even thinking of a bonus) because my abilities were
entirely underutilized and, of the three managers to whom I was assigned,
two were complete nightmares. One was about six feet tall, and I secretly
referred to her as Medusa or Medea, depending on my mood. But that is
neither here nor there. Another reason I left was because I felt overmanaged
in every conceivable way. I shared, for a large part of my experience, the
same office as said manager of mythological Greek she-monsters.

I really have no hard feelings toward the firm. When I tell people I worked
at Google, most people are incredulous that I would have left after such a
short time. I want to make this response as objective and as helpful as
possible, so I have three suggestions for the firm in how to prevent cases
like mine from happening.

1) Avoid hiring creative writing/art/film production majors into highly
structured and highly interpersonal roles like HR. I spent most of my
college life writing short stories – alone. Perhaps not the best indication
that I care or even know how to be productive in a role that requires
constant client-facing time. My manager used to always pride herself on
being excellent at “customer service,” which she often said was her favorite
aspect of HR. Service ANYTHING gives me the chills, as it does – I am sure –
for most highly left-brain types.

2) There is Google quirky, and there is too weird to ever fit into a
corporate mold. Identify.

3) Make it easier for people to switch managers if the fit is egregious

4) Give a more accurate representation of Google to potential employees
BEFORE you hire them. All I knew before starting at Google was “#1 Place to
Work According to Forbes” and “Free Gourmet Food” and “Unlimited Sick Days”
and “We Want You to Be Googley!” Like, properly, echoing in my brain. My
twenty-two year old greedy magpie self was wholly drawn in by the idea of
having sashimi anytime I wanted without paying a dime. But as nice as it is
having a cushy 401K and unlimited sick days, I was not willing to sacrifice
my personal happiness and career fulfillment, not even for all the free
kombucha I could drink.

In short – I left for personal reasons listed above. Now is the time for my
shameless self-plug. After bumming it around for 5 months doing odd jobs
(like, properly odd… I did stints in PR, dog walking, babysitting,
modeling) I finally landed the job I’d always dreamed of, which is to write
for a living.

I now run my own fashion blog and host an online fashion “web show” at
< …> If anyone out there is interested in fashion,
even as a passing thing, it might be of some interest.


From: Scott
Date: Mon, 6 Oct 2008 12:37:03 -0700 (PDT)
Local: Mon, Oct 6 2008 1:37 pm
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

Hi there,
Well I left Google three months ago so the scars are still fresh! I
worked in sales and a bit of sales management (will explain) in London
between 2004 – 2008.

I think with all these things, its the little bricks that make the
house. I have yet to find a perfect job, so I was pretty bummed when I
was pitched one when I joined.

Here is my two penneth
Management – I strongly believe there were a lot of people who did
very little in the way of people management. Due to the aggressive
growth of Google, a lot of managers essentially learnt nothing about
the products or issues with staff. Instead they ‘managed up’ covering
their own patch or careers. I averaged consistent high OKR scores
(despite the managing of the curve nonsense that creates more
subjectivity than objectivity) and despite having 5 managers in 3
years (all of whom knew nothing about my vertical) I watched newer
employees join talk utter rubbish, speak in non sensical management
talk, piss off agencies/clients (I know because they used to call me
laughing) and get promoted.

Mostly because they loved doing business in a suit, if you were not
wearing a suit and did a lot of brown nosing you were screwed. I did
neither…hehehe – Maybe that has something to do with a change of
culture. If that is the case then the rules to be Googley should
change. It sometimes felt like the rules to being Googlgey were a PR

Culturally – In London I just felt the soul of the place change. A lot
of people I worked with or knew there were deeply unhappy with the
lack of fun (Still are , but they won’t talk to management because
they know it is not important- see above). It all seemed to be
contrived and a little false. Of course nothing stays the same but you
when working with a team where politics, egos and bullshit didn’t
exist and suddenly it did, you can’t help but feel confused.
You read so much about how amazing it is to work at Google and for the
first two years it was. I was empowered, promoted, treated with
respect and honesty. Before I left it just was a place full of quiet
moans, talented people being undermined and a structure that created
hostility and politics.

I loved my time there. It was a real education. Not to mention my very
risque TGIF routines in London. Actually I think that maybe while I
was ignored. I was not going to compromise my personality by dressing
like a business consultant. I was serious at my job without wearing my

The food was amazing though.

Actually I have just read this back and it now appears I should of
left years ago. Whatever – Google you have some amazing people there –
start listening and responding. Wisdom of crowds….cough….splutter

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