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back to article Ex-Google man laments Larry Page's 'single corporate-mandated focus'

A software engineer who has bounced between Microsoft and Google over the past few years is very disappointed indeed with his one-time boss Larry Page. James Whittaker took to his blog to moan about the current state of play over at the Chocolate Factory and complained that Google is killing its business by obsessing over its …

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You just have to wonder, sometimes.

"The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate."

Does one have to take lessons in order to use cliches like this, or does it just come naturally for an ad-man?

"He continued: 'The fact that all this was paid for by a cash machine stuffed full of advertising loot was lost on most of us.'"

You just have to wonder about these people sometimes.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You just have to wonder, sometimes.

It's actually possible he truly believed this.

Reading some posts on Google employees' social network it seems some think their company is some sort of charity whose goal is saving the world through technology.

My guess is they probably watched so many speeches by Eric Schmidt that they started to believe it.

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Re: You just have to wonder, sometimes.

"Does one have to take lessons in order to use cliches like this, or does it just come naturally for an ad-man?"

I think its just americans in general. They all talk in cliches, soundbites and therapy speak.

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Re: You just have to wonder, sometimes.

"I think its just americans in general. They all talk in cliches, soundbites and therapy speak."

Which in itself is a cliche'. Personally, I think it's more of a coastal thing. Midwesterners aren't full of that kind of guff. We have a different guff.

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Re: You just have to wonder, sometimes.

He's wearing a Scotland top. Strange American?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You just have to wonder, sometimes.

"Reading some posts on Google employees' social network it seems some think their company is some sort of charity whose goal is saving the world through technology."

It's not just their employees, this perception is still reasonably common among people within the industry and even the general population. They fell hook, line and sinker for the 'Do no Evil' corporate motto and just don't want to accept that they were duped, that Google really isn't any different to any of the other big tech companies. Google is after all still very good at PR and creating distractions, they do give money to charity, sponsor events such as the Summer of Code and release a tiny amount of open source code but for all that their business isn't any more ethical than the others.

Neither are worse than their peers, they are all just monopolist giants who care only for their bottom line, and who know that good press can help to keep those revenues high.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You just have to wonder, sometimes.

> He's wearing a Scotland top. Strange American?

Really? Why do you say that?

I see plenty of brits (in Britain and elsewhere) wearing New York Yankees apparel. Are they strange too? (Living in Boston, as I do, I might be tempted to question their apparent lack of taste, but I'm a Cubs fan so I don't care about the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.)

And I wear a Springboks rugby jersey all the time. Long before Invictus FWIW.

Or were you just engaging in some indirect american bashing. Yes, I suppose that's it. How droll.

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Bronze badge

Re: cliches, sounbites and therapy speak

We don't *all* talk that way - it's the result of the mandatory lobotomy for management candidates.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You just have to wonder, sometimes.

Yes, the Brits wearing 'Yankees' clothing are strange, not least because most of them have never seen a baseball game, they are doing it for purely for 'fashion' reasons (they saw actors wearing the clothing in American films).

Stop being so sensitive, this wasn't American bashing. Remember that Britain is a country where wearing a football teams shirt is not dissimilar to wearing gang colours, it shows a strong affiliation to a particular club or nation. It is not the least bit surprising that someone might assume that someone wearing a Scotland shirt was a native Scot.

All of that said, I think you've just misunderstood what the OP said. He wasn't calling the gentleman a 'strange American', there was a question mark at the end there in case you hadn't noticed.

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FAIL

Just because _you're_ all jaded...

... doesn't mean he is.

Doesn't it strike you that a technology company which values employee input would seek to foster an environment where engineers think that - to quote - "their company is some sort of charity whose goal is saving the world through technology"? That perhaps the grunts at the coalface were actually happy under that kind of environment?

These haughty, slightly sneering proclamations about cliches don't add anything useful to the debate about google, or how it might be changing. While I am not fond of some of their user interfaces, they are a company I associate with innovation through allowing their employees to "play" a little with ideas which might pan out into a great, useful, collaborative tool for the world to use.

If Google are "Migrating" their focus to become A.N.Other corporate desk-filler, or otherwise starting to change the "feel" for engineers, they'll see a lot more like this guy leaving. It sounds like he was pretty useful too, if you take the time to read his post.

This is about more than "soundbites", "cliches" and "therapy speak" - it's about a company which had something of a geek "heart" deciding to change direction, and one man has decided to speak out about his disappointment. I for one applaud him for it - and will be enquiring via his blog if his motivations for writing the piece are down to Microsoft suggesting it's a good idea, rather than assuming it _might_ be the case.

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Re: Just because _you're_ all jaded...

Bollocks.

All companies that are big corporates are soulless automata whose sole purpose is wealth generation for their shareholders.

Anyone who thinks or feels differently is a naive idiot.

Google only pretended that they were a geeks paradise whilst it suited them. Anyone who actually believed that google were anything else fell for the bullshit and brainwashing perpetuated in their ludicrous recruitment process. The JW's and Scientologists are similar.

If anything was a sign that Google thought its shit didn't stink that was one.

(and no I've never applied or been rejected by them)

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Stop

Re: Just because _you're_ all jaded...

OK, you're obviously not the world's biggest optimist when it comes to workplace satisfaction or the idea that a large company could conceivably give a shit about its' employess. Nice turn of phrase with "naive idiot" btw, an exemplary indication of your open-mindedness.

Look up how Gore-Tex organises its' company to see how a large company can think small, grow and still engender employee loyalty.

If google has, or had, one iota of belief in the strategy which James Whittaker says he saw and believed in (remember, he's not a "naive idiot", he's a fricking professor), then they believed that innovation pulled people in to use their services, and they made money from the ads that were viewed and clicked on. They fostered that environment for their staff and allowed them the "room to fail" - or succeed. That's the kind of work environment where engineers at the sharp end of the business thrive, if they're creative, engaged individuals.

A creative, engaged and enthusiastic individual with skills will move mountains for the sake of it to prove themselves and their idea. I agree that soulless corps are a great place to become cynical as hell about company motivation, though.

Sounds to me like your workplace is less than opimtal. Mine is pretty good, we do have some leeway to make a difference - but you have to retain the enthusiasm to do so. And you know what? When you do, you try stuff out: you get noticed, things people didn't even know needed doing get done.

So don't go shouting "bollocks" unless you're willing to engage intelligently in a debate on the relationship between an employee and the company they work for.

BTW I've never applied to work at Google either (did get headhunted once, but politely turned it down). Mr Whittaker's experience doesn't make me think I'd apply now.

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Stop

Got that wrong

"Advertisers and publishers cherish this kind of personal information"

No, advertisers COVET this kind of information, I CHERISH my privacy and would never willingly give these characters the time of day.

As for being an American, have a look at the football shirt and what he is holding, it maybe that he is a Scot. Just a guess.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Got that wrong

He is American, but "he started a consulting practice that spanned 33 countries. Apparently, fashion is not high on his list as he he has collected soccer jerseys from many of these countries and wears those during major tournaments. "

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Got that wrong

Must be a pretty old shirt then! Ouch.

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Go

Interesting

An interesting blog post. But it does make me wonder... why did he choose _Microsoft_ as the place to go and work after saying Google was becoming too Corporate?

Personally I think most companies follow that path towards corporatism before they eventually collapse. Call it the natural lifecycle if you will.

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Pint

Re: Interesting

Hey, maybe he thought "As long as I'm a corporate shill, I might as well be a damn-well-paid corporate shill."

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Ru
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"why did he choose _Microsoft_?"

Because he already has a good idea of what life is like in MS, and decided it compared favourably with Google, I imagine. Don't assume that your impression of a company's public, commercial activities has much similarity with what it is like to work for that same company.

I think this was linked from the Reg (or a comment thread here) recently... it seems relevant still. http://www.fakesteve.net/2008/04/google-putting-up-fence-and-gate-to.html

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Anonymous Coward

Other Google engineers have now joined the discussion:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3700277 (by a software engineer at Google)

Very interesting read, and it's not even on Google+.

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