Life is like a grapefruit


A little over three years ago1, I left LucasArts to join Google. I have now left Google to join Twitter.

I have an amazing opportunity to join the Mesos team at a point in their development that is ideal: The technology is built, the company has invested heavily in it, but there’s still a huge amount to do and a chance to have a hand in building something great.

When I joined Google, I thought I’d never leave; there are so many projects at the company that I thought if I was ever bored, or just felt the itch, I’d be able to find a new one. This is completely true, but is also part of the reason that I’m leaving.

Google is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to Google2. When I joined, Google could be described as an online lifestyle company: Search, Mail, Docs, Android, and Chrome formed the backbone of an internally consistent suite of products. The advent of Google+ fit that model and added the necessary feature of consistent identity. I wouldn’t say Google’s been entirely successful in rolling it out3, but the end goal is reasonable.

The addition of Google[x], robotics companies, and more recently home automation projects, have left Google’s focus unclear. To be more concrete, in any production environment it is necessary to have a shared vision of what everyone is ultimately working on. If that doesn’t exist, it is difficult to understand the context behind senior management decisions, or even to trust your peers are working towards the same goals that you are. I somehow lost sight of that shared vision at Google. Having said all that, there are many brilliant people working on astounding projects at Google, and I’m proud to have been a small part of it for a little while.

What Twitter offers is a clarity of purpose that keeps every line of code focused on a well-defined product. Features may be added, but at its core Twitter is not going to significantly change. Add to that a widely used open-source project that is a key part of Twitter’s infrastructure, challenges of scale that no-one has had to work at before, and you have quite the compelling opportunity.

Replacing a two hour bus-ride with a forty minute walk doesn’t hurt either. There’s also less chance of me being barricaded into my home by protesters.

  1. 1186 days, to be precise ↩︎
  2. With apologies to Douglas Adams ↩︎
  3. the conflation of identity with real identity is specifically problematic ↩︎

Posted on 2014/02/05 in personal | Tagged google, job, twitter | Leave a comment

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