1. The worst part of working at Google, for many people, is that they’re overqualified for their job. Google has a very high hiring bar due to the strength of the brand name, the pay & perks, and the very positive work culture. As a result, they have their pick of bright candidates, even for the most low-level roles. There are students from top 10 colleges who are providing tech support for Google’s ads products, or manually taking down flagged content from YouTube, or writing basic code to A|B test the color of a button on a site.
2. You end up spending the majority of your life eating Google food, with Google coworkers, wearing Google gear, talking in Google acronyms, sending Google emails on Google phones, and you eventually start to lose sight of what it’s like to be independent of the big G, and every corner of your life is set up to reinforce the idea that you would be absolutely insane to want to be anywhere else. Period.
You are given everything you could ever want, but it costs you the only things that actually matter in the end. Your time and your energy. In the end, what I started to see was the most amazing, talented, passionate group of people I’ve ever known, all in one place, with no free time or energy to pursue the things that mattered the most to them. Many want to change the world, and they thought that’s what they’d do while at Google.
3. People feel justified asking you why you left or if you still work there, insisting that everything must be perfect. They don’t want to hear anything less than total enthusiasm for your luck getting into Google, and how much you want to stay. If you left or have anything other than rainbows and ponies to talk about, nearly everybody from my mother to my cab driver pretty much demands you explain why you’d be anything less than thrilled to work at Google. I think that’s the marketing campaign – that employees at Google have everything they could ever need to be happy, is one of Google’s most impressive products,when in reality, their perks are not unusual for a company of its size in Silicon Valley at all, and the majority of the features are replicated in the smaller companies too.
4. It really depends on your team, but most of the downsides I can think of have to do with its size. Like most huge corporations it has its share of bureaucracy, including weekly status reports, quarterly peer reviews, quarterly objective/result reports, and a somewhat cumbersome code review process. The product release cycle is sluggish at best, and though teams may work and feel like startups, I found that you can often end up with the bad (long hours, grueling work) without the good (agile development, rapid iteration).
6. As someone who has worked for a temp job working for Google, the worst part is the smug attitude of those who work for the REAL Google. They seem to think that anyone who isn’t working for the actual Google like they are is somehow mentally and morally inferior.
9. There is not enough focus on product and visual design. This has led to many aborted/semi-successful products, like Wave, Google Video, Buzz, Dodgeball, Orkut, Knol, and Friend Connect. There is probably too much focus on pure engineering.
10. Here’s something to ponder. The only meaningful organic products to come out of Google were Search and then AdSense. (Android – awesome, purchased. YouTube – awesome, purchased. Larry and/or Sergey were obviously intimately involved in both. Maps – awesome, purchased. Google Plus is a flop for all non-Googlers globally. Chrome browser is great, but no direct monetization (indirectly protects search), the world has passed the Chrome OS by ) Fast forward 14 years, and the next big thing from Google, I bet, will be Google Glass, and guess who PMd it. Sergey Brin. Tiny number of wave creators, huge number of surfers.
Too many great people, doing work that just doesn’t matter, and they’re being paid off not to care in an explicit effort to starve the rest of the valley of extraordinary talent.
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