Ex-Google Employee Blasts Ad Revenue And Google+
A former Google developer has gone on the record about why he returned to arch-rival Microsoft, saying that the search giant changed from a “technology company” fostering innovation into “an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus.” Engineer James Whittaker cited the unrelenting pursuit of “social” user info and the rise of Google+ as signs of the end of Google’s entrepreneurial spirit.
Whittaker states that upon joining Google in 2009, he was one of the company’s most outspoken supporters, praising the culture of experimentation. Whittaker cites Gmail and Chrome as huge successes that began in the lower levels of Google.
But he states that everything changed when Google saw its dominant advertising revenues challenged by Facebook, which could offer advertisers greater insight into users’ interests and habits. Whittaker describes a company going into crisis mode when it senses a threat to its Golden Goose:
Social became state-owned, a corporate mandate called Google+. It was an ominous name invoking the feeling that Google alone wasn’t enough. Search had to be social. Android had to be social. You Tube, once joyous in their independence, had to be … well, you get the point. Even worse was that innovation had to be social. Ideas that failed to put Google+ at the center of the universe were a distraction.
But as many are aware, if Google+’s goal was to rack up users rivaling Facebook, it has failed.
“Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn’t invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation,” writes Whittaker. “The fact that no one came to Google’s party became the elephant in the room.”
He’s not the first Google insider to tear into the social network. Last fall, Googler Steve Yegge accidentally published a 5,000 word rant, outlining his employer’s failure to reach out universally to users. He specifically calls Google+ “a pathetic afterthought… a kneejerk reaction, a study in short-term thinking.” (Of course, Yegge’s post was uploaded to- you guessed it- Google+.)
But Yegge’s rant was accidentally leaked on a private account; Whittaker’s was published on an official and public Microsoft blog, perhaps a not-so-subtle shot as the two tech giants’ rivalry heats up again amidst an anti-trust investigation.
What do you think? Is Whittaker right about the end of “the old Google?”