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What happens if your 20% project becomes a product at Google? Do you get rewarded with a share or promotion? In a sense, Google could be acting as a mini-VC for you, so even if you work 120% that is just equivalent you doing a side project hoping it turns into a start up. Except you'd be able to work on different kinds of projects.



I don't really know if there is a standard "share or promotion" for 20% projects that become products. I'm sure some people have received bonuses. I don't think most people who work on 20% projects that become products really care that much about the monetary compensation- it's far more enjoyable to see people use your product happily, than get a wad of cash (at least for me).

Anyway, I think you raise an interesting analogy: working on 20% projects at Google, then using the company's resources to launch the product, does have a number of parallels to VC funding for startups (note: I'm advisor for Google Ventures, so I have some experience with both worlds). In a sense- and nobody everybody will agree with me- Google as an employer is a low-risk, low-capital way to launch my products. Larry and Sergey already took the risks (launching a company with no clear monetization strategy), they figured out a monetization strategy, and now they invest their capital in speculative projects.

Anyway, in my case, after it seemed like my project was in good hands and ready to be a product, I looked for something else interesting to work on. I think the main problem I have working here is that there are too many cool projects I could work on, learning from experienced SWEs and SREs, but I have to stick to one.




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