Worst part of the article:
"Aboukhadijeh announced the launch of YouTube Instant on Y Combinator’s Hacker News feed, a news aggregation site similar to Digg and Reddit."
The main difference is that we value slightly longer comments. (But so does Slashdot, and they have a lot more users.)
Check out his impressive resume at http://www.feross.org/Resume_Feross_Aboukhadijeh.pdf
He's definitely more than capable of producing at his new YouTube gig (assuming he will take it).
"Everytime Google or Facebook hires someone another startup dies" - may have not quoted right, but you get the idea.
Remember, a lot of people working at Google got there via acquisitions. And they are afforded all the rights of "normal" employees that had 10 weeks of interviews (including moving to a "normal" team).
I assume Google's official hiring process is mostly for recent college grads, because they don't have any experience (or code) to prove that they know anything. Once you are established, via reputation or open source or otherwise, I'm sure the rules are more flexible.
(I bet Guido didn't have to explain linked lists on a whiteboard.)
If you have actual experience, nobody should care about your GPA. Or even whether you have a college degree. Lots of people at Google don't. If you're still in college it might be an issue, but if you have something to point to you still have a shot at getting into the interview process.
The interview process is hard. I won't lie to you about it. Even if you belong at Google, there is a good chance of not making it through on the first try. But your odds are infinitely worse if you don't even try.
Speaking personally, I didn't apply to Google for years because the core Google languages are Python, Java and C++, while my professional experience was all in Perl. Eventually I did apply, and discovered that it never would have been a problem. And in fact I'm doing most of my work in internal languages that nobody comes here knowing.
If the language is well-suited to the task, this is in fact an efficient approach.
That said, you won't get through the Google interview without filling in some of your CS holes. You don't need to know what anything is called, but if you don't understand why quick sort and merge sort are efficient, you'll have trouble with the interviews.
That said, if you made it through real analysis and algebra, then the CS stuff you need shouldn't be too hard for you to learn. Really. If your interests include math and CS, one fun place to start is trying to tackle Project Euler problems. While doing that, read a few books, and you should be good to go.
It's the lack of formal CS that'll do you in...you have to know some of the theory to get past the interviews. They don't care how you learned it, but they care that you know it.
The stuff about the GPA seems like a giant myth. I don't even remember my college GPA and I had a few rounds of interviews at GOOG.
I just finished recounting my last two days running YouTube Instant here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1683100
1) Painfully slow compared to Instant's realtime.
2) Only one at at time.
3) Text. (People respond to visual cues, and for a vid site, better to have thumbnails display in the results with captions.)
I even ran into issues when Google automatically blocked my server for making too many repeated requests to the search suggestions endpoint.
However, I rewrote the site to query YouTube directly for search suggestions, eliminating the round-trip to my server. Now, all the magic happens in each visitor’s browser, so it’s faster and Google can’t block it.
The real lesson here is for yourself and others here who think like you -- if you tell yourself that things like this take superhuman efforts, how will you ever be able to produce something creative yourself?
(Of course, everyone thinking that this is even remotely the same thing as Google Instant is also completely missing the real innovations in that product.)
I'm pretty sure they just want the person.
edit2: had mentioned an error the site was having, but it appears to be fixed now.