Another Xoogler and More Process Insights

November 23, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

Google employs many people. Over the last 25 years, quite a few Xooglers (former Google employees) are out and about. I find the essays by the verbal Xooglers interesting. “Reflecting on 18 Years at Google” contains several intriguing comments. Let me highlight a handful of these. You will want to read the entire Hixie article to get the context for the snips I have selected.

The first point I underlined with blushing pink marker was:

I found it quite frustrating how teams would be legitimately actively pursuing ideas that would be good for the world, without prioritizing short-term Google interests, only to be met with cynicism in the court of public opinion.


Old timers share stories about the golden past in the high-technology of online advertising. Thanks, Copilot, don’t overdo the schmaltz.

The “Google as a victim” is a notion not often discussed — except by some Xooglers. I recall a comment made to me by a seasoned manager at another firm, “Yes, I am paranoid. They are out to get me.” That comment may apply to some professionals at Google.

How about this passage?

My mandate was to do the best thing for the web, as whatever was good for the web would be good for Google (I was explicitly told to ignore Google’s interests).

The oft-repeated idea is that Google cares about its users and similar truisms are part of what I call the Google mythology. Intentionally, in my opinion, Google cultivates the “doing good” theme as part of its effort to distract observers from the actual engineering intent of the company. (You love those Google ads, don’t you?)

Google’s creative process is captured in this statement:

We essentially operated like a startup, discovering what we were building more than designing it.

I am not sure if this is part of Google’s effort to capture the “spirit” of the old-timey days of Bell Laboratories or an accurate representation of Google’s directionless methods became over the years. What people “did” is clearly dissociated from the advertising mechanisms on which the oversized tires and chrome do-dads were created and bolted on the ageing vehicle.

And, finally, this statement:

It would require some shake-up at the top of the company, moving the center of power from the CFO’s office back to someone with a clear long-term vision for how to use Google’s extensive resources to deliver value to users.

What happened to the ideas of doing good and exploratory innovation?

Net net: Xooglers pine for the days of the digital gold rush. Googlers may not be aware of what the company is and does. That may be a good thing.

Stephen E Arnold, November 23, 2023


Comments are closed.

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta