A Line Through Two Points

I Feel Safer Already

The widely-linked Douglas Bowman says, on leaving Google.

Yes, it’s true that a team at Google couldn’t decide between two blues, so they’re testing 41 shades between each blue to see which one performs better. I had a recent debate over whether a border should be 3, 4 or 5 pixels wide, and was asked to prove my case. I can’t operate in an environment like that. I’ve grown tired of debating such miniscule design decisions.

It must be awesome to work somewhere that’s rolling in so much more cash and manpower than direction, management or competent competitors that they can afford to expend so much effort on obvious nonsense. I bet this is how Chrome came about; hey, we’ve got a million extra man-hours here and reading code, fixing bugs and speaking to others is no fun, so instead of helping those guys over there, fuck ‘em. Steve Jobs says webkit’s pretty sweet, let’s just make a new one from scratch.

Not surprising if I’m reading this right, from a NYT article he links to, on Marissa Mayer and Google’s hiring process:

One candidate got a C in macroeconomics. “That’s troubling to me,” Ms. Mayer says. “Good students are good at all things.”

Am I overgeneralizing from two data points here? Sure, but my overgeneralization is data-driven. But that, in one line, is how you end up with a room or a building or an enterprise full of people who don’t try anything they don’t already know they’re good at. Growth involves risk, and risk involves occasional failure. Otherwise it’s not called risk.

But good luck being good at everything, Google. Maybe you could get some of those people who are good at all things together in a room and figure out how to make money off something that isn’t advertising.

2 Comments

  1. Posted March 24, 2009 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Although of course I’m sure you’ve seen the followups from other Googalians, who are less grim about the place.

    Google strikes me as the classic small company turned large, that hasn’t yet developed large company policies and procedures. Except that unlike most such companies, who realize the urgency of this when their doom descends up on them, Google has been insulated by giant piles of money.

  2. mhoye
    Posted March 24, 2009 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    The thing is, all the followups from that have consisted of “but there are tons of talent and money here”. Well, no shit, of course there is. But direction matters, leadership and management matters. And to all available reports, Google’s response to the rapidly collapsing economy consists of nothing more than putting ads in more places.