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May 2, 2008

Leaving Google: From Big to Small

Testimonials from former Google employees:

"The decision to leave was a tough one. Google clearly is an amazing company to work for. After consulting with many companies during my time at Adaptive Path, it's clear that Google is like no other: they move fast, think clearly, and push strategic decisions out to the people closest to their users. But in my career, I've always swung between the big and the small and it's time for another shift." (Jeff Veen, Design Manager - May 2, 2008)

"I'm doing something pretty goofy today: I'm leaving Google. My tattered old employee badge goes back to HR during my exit interview at 4:00 this afternoon. After that I'll be an ex-Googler. Working at Google was as amazing as everyone says it is. Sure, the perks were nice. I'll miss the delicious meals, the ski trips, the commuter shuttle, and TGIF. But any company could provide such benefits, given enough free cash flow. What makes Google unique is its culture of respect. The tough interview process means that engineers are treated with respect from their first day. In such a supportive environment, even the most timid person works with self-confidence, which is marvelous to witness. This element of the company's culture was the biggest difference between Google and every other place I've worked in the past. I hope to take it with me throughout the rest of my career. (...) My new venture is a software startup called FSX. I think of the company as a mashup of eBay, Charles Schwab, and American Idol. FSX will use a highly accurate, simulated brokerage to identify skilled stock portfolio managers." (Mike Tsao, Google Gears - April 23, 2008)

"Google is an amazing company. Especially for a company of this size (and impact), it is highly impressive that they have managed to maintain this kind of work environment, company culture, and integrity. (...) But in the end, I have realized that I am just much more of a startup person than a big-company person. Perks and everything are great, but this is ultimately not what motivates me. At an early stage startup, every single individual has a tremendous impact on the company (good or bad…), along with a much broader set of responsibilities (everybody has to wear many hats). Then, there’s the pioneering spirit, which is extremely energizing and contagious. These days, it seems like a lot of the true innovations are made at small startups, which have the benefit of being orders of magnitude times more agile and efficient than a large company will ever be." (DigitalHobbit - April 13, 2008)

"Working at Google has been an amazing, life-changing experience. It's an incredible company with a unique, quirky culture and tons of passionate, talented people. I feel very lucky to have been able to work with so many brilliant engineers on such fascinating products used by millions of people. Leaving Google was a tough decision for me. I was very happy working on Google Maps and oftentimes felt like I had the best job in the world. I became the Maps PM at age 22 and was blown away by how much responsibility they were willing to give someone so young. The work was fun, challenging, and very rewarding. I wasn't looking for a new job, but a great opportunity fell in my lap that I felt I had to take." (Jess Lee, Google Maps Project Manager - March 15, 2008)

"After a life-changing four and a half years of working with the most talented group of people I have ever met, I've decided to take the plunge and do it all over again, working for a very small start-up. Today is my last day at the Big G. (...) Leaving Google is different than any other job I've left. Joining Google in 2003, it was the first time I took a job without knowing at the outset the reason I'd eventually leave the job (even if my employer didn't), and so it's strange to have found success there and yet feel a need for greater fulfillment sufficient to pull you away from what's generally recognized as the best workplace in America. It's even stranger that Google is the first place I've ever worked where I feel that I'm part of the company as opposed to working for the company." (Kevin Fox, user experience designer - Jan 4, 2008)

"I deeply admire how Eric, Larry, and Sergey are trying to build a 100-year company. Google encourages team leaders and entrepreneurs to take actions that traditional public companies, who are being managed quarter by quarter, would never be able to take. This allows Googlers to forget about short-term distractions and instead focus on accomplishing deep and fundamental changes to an industry or space. It's not fluff. I saw it every day and it was inspiring. (...) The one thing I began to miss at Google as it grows was the ability to be a generalist within the company. In a startup, it is easy and encouraged for folks to wear multiple hats. I used to buy data centers and fiber, manage an acquisition, work on Google Talk, pitch an access partner, receive a dignitary and give a speech about the future of media all in the same week. As a company gets bigger, inevitably, it begins to organize itself vertically and employees are pushed to specialize. As I focused my efforts almost exclusively around wireless, I began to miss the excitement and learning that comes with having touchpoints across the entire company on many different teams." (Chris Sacca, Head of Special Initiatives - December 20, 2007)

"For the last two years, I have had a fantastic time helping to build Google Webmaster Central. I have loved working with the (ever-expanding!) team, writing about search on the blog and for the help center, and designing features for the webmaster community. (...) Now I have an all-new opportunity to work on the unique challenges of the vertical and local search space at Zillow. (...) Making the move was a very difficult decision, but the challenge of creating something new in a space that’s so young and evolving was too great to pass up." (Vanessa Fox, Google Webmaster Central Product Manager - June 14, 2007)

"Today's my last day as an employee of Google. I've been on leave since December, so it's not really a big change this day. But now the decision's made. It feels a bit strange leaving such a great and productive company. But I'm ready to do something new with a smaller group of people." (Nelson Minar, he created Google's first APIs - April 7, 2006)

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