A throwaway (but very funny) Fake Steve Jobs post this morning got me thinking about Google and it’s people.

As this Wired article says, the brain drain from Google has been gaining momentum in the past few months. Even more of a concern is this interview with Google defector Justin Rosenstein where he makes the telling comment that;

I also like that I can have a personal relationship with the founders of the company. I can walk over and talk to them about my thoughts and concerns at 2am in the morning.

and;

company that shows up once in a very long while — the Google of yesterday, the Microsoft of long ago. That company where large numbers of stunningly-brilliant people congregate and feed off each other’s genius. That company that’s doing with 60 engineers what teams of 600 can’t pull off

In one swoop Justin has consigned Google to the same pile as other mature businesses, successful yes, but exciting and passion driven no.

Part of the brain drain can be attributed to new companies targetting ex-Googlers (with the expectation that success begats success), some can be attributed to the fact that employee stock options at Google have reasonably short term vesting periods – but apart from these two valid reasons, one can’t help but think that, post IPO (and free lunches and massages aside), Google just isn’t seen as the most exciting place to work anymore.

Last words (and ones with more than a grain of truth to them I surmise) to FSJ;

[you take] these super-high-IQ kiddies and the fact is that most of them truly are smart, but then you put them into this horribly dull and easy drone work on AdWords and AdSense and they’re all bored to tears and totally disappointed because they really really really thought they were going to do something meaningful with their lives and now they’re just worker bees — pampered worker bees, sure, but still…

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

3 Comments
  • Falafulu Fisi |

    In one swoop Justin has consigned Google to the same pile as other mature businesses, successful yes, but exciting and passion driven no.

    No, Google, Microsoft are still the main exciting companies to attract top notch researchers. In any technology company, be it software or other industries, there is only a few at the top level who are doing state-of-the-art work, while there are many who are being employed below that par, like a pyramid for instance. It is the lower level people that move from company A to B or from A to C, because the stuff they do is quite boring according to the comment :

    but then you put them into this horribly dull and easy drone work on AdWords and AdSense and they’re all bored to tears and totally disappointed because they really really really thought they were going to do something meaningful

    and that is quite correct. So, these bored workers could find some new excitement at Facebook, perhaps it is a new evironment or more attrative pay packet, etc. Those types would soon find that once the honeymoon in a new company such as Facebook is gone, they would be looking to move again. The reason is what they do, regardless of who they work for is boring and that is fact. If they’re into the cutting edge stuff, they wouldn’t be bored at all.

  • Name (required) |

    smart ppl want to work on interesting things. google didnt have much attrition till recently, bcos the smart ppl were resting in vesting.
    thier million dollars won over thier apetite to work on interesting things.
    now they want to move to start thier own companies or work for another early stage startup to finally do some real work, instead of hanging out in the campus for food and play.
    ofcourse the ppl who joined google in last couple of years are not that good to the early googlers.

    -an employee who quit after 6months and happily in a startup with no free food , but no bullshit.

  • Hey Ex Google employee – thanks for your comment – I’d be keen to have a chat with you about your experiences – drop me a line if you’re keen

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