One year ago today I joined Google. It has been an amazing experience. Here are some of the things I learned.
Being Googley - The culture at Google is an interesting mix of modesty and supreme confidence. There is sense that anything is possible, and that we should try new approaches that have never been done before. The expectations are very high and the energy levels are intense. Yet, the leaders are very modest and self effacing. There is confidence, but no arrogance. Google measures it self against its own goals, not any competitors.
Google is paradoxically very open internally, and very private externally. There are TGIF company meetings every Friday where Larry, Sergey, Eric, and many other senior execs share what is going on. The level of openness and trust is truly amazing. Yet, with the press and investors, Google is very quiet and reserved. Google lets results speak for themselves, and doesn't speak about new things until they are done.
Marketing is not a strong point for Google. Products succeed or fail based on user adoption. There is very little marketing or promotion around any product once it has launched. This is in sharp contrast to the intense marketing and huge promotion budgets at Microsoft. Google has been very successful with this approach...and so has Microsoft. Maybe there is some middle ground that makes sense for less obvious products, or products that are so far ahead of the curve that they need some time and explanation.
Google moves at light speed - My third day on the job I was asked to speak at a Cloud Computing Conference in New York City. The product managers and PR people spent a day bringing me up to speed on Google's product offerings, vision for the future, and what we could and couldn't say in public. The conference session went very well and generated a lot of good press for Google. This is just one example of "hitting the ground running" that is quite common with new hires at Google.
Developer Relations - I work in the Google Developer Relations group headed by Michael Winton. It is an amazing group of people from around the world. Most are former software engineers, eight of them have authored books, three of them have software patents to their name, and most of them have made significant contributions to Open Source projects. You can meet many members of the DevRel team on this site. I am truly honored to work with these tech rock stars.
The Google Hiring Process - The Google hiring process is designed to hire the most talented, creative, and articulate people in the world who will be the best fit for Google. The Google culture is different. You notice it the moment you walk on campus. It isn’t for everyone, but it works amazingly well for Google. Hiring decisions are made by hiring committees. This means that no single hiring manager can make a potentially bad decision by themselves. This doesn't guarantee 100% success, but it does reduce bad decisions. There must be consensus that the candidate is a great hire.
How Google Sets Goals And Measures Success - Achieving 60% of the impossible is better than 100% of the ordinary. Setting impossible goals and achieving part of them sets you on a completely different trajectory than the safe route. Sometimes you can achieve the impossible in a quarter, but even when you don’t, you are on a fast track to achieving it soon. Measuring success every quarter allows for mid course corrections and setting higher goals for the next quarter.
Rewards for success - Google is very generous to employees. The expectations are very high, but the rewards for success are truly amazing. Salaries are more than competitive, and probably lead the industry. Bonuses are based on performance and are very competitive. Stock options and stock grants are a big part of the compensation package, as they are with most tech companies. Overall, I am extremely happy with my compensation at Google.
Google Developer Days - Google is all about developers. Over the past year I have presented at Google Developer Days and DevFests in Mexico, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Russia, and the Czech Republic. There are also many Google Technical User Group (GTUG) meeting every month all over the world.
Google Ventures - Google has its own venture capital arm called Google Ventures which can invest $100M every year in leading edge technology companies. I have the privilege of working closely with the team at Google Ventures. The partners include former entrepreneurs and VC veterans. Bill Maris, founder of Burlee, is managing partner. Rich Miner, co-founder of Wildfire Communications, and senior exec at Android, and Joe Kraus, founder of Excite and Jotspot, are partners. Wesley Chan, one of the first employees at Google is also a partner. Meet all the GV team here.
Google's big bets for the future - I think Google is amazingly well positioned for the future. Web search is obviously a great business, but there are other great businesses emerging. Your cell phone will become your primary computer, communicator, camera, and entertainment device, all in one. Android is a major player in the mobile market.
The exciting new applications are running in the browser, with application code and data in the cloud, and the cell phone as a major platform. The browser is quickly making the Operating System irrelevant. Google has invested heavily in its own browser, Chrome. There is still a lot of innovation coming to the browser.
The Cloud is clearly the direction for server computing. Google has great cloud based applications like Gmail and Google Apps, and Google App Engine for building custom applications in the cloud.
My first year at Google has flown by. The opportunities are unlimited. Google is well positioned for growth, and has even bigger plans for the future. There will be stumbles and setbacks. That is expected when you are aiming for the impossible. I can't think of a more exciting place to be. I am already looking forward to 2011.
Subscribe - To get an automatic feed of all future posts subscribe here, or to receive them via email go here and enter your email address in the box in the right column. You can also follow me on Twitter@dondodge