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What is it like to work at Google? (scripting.com)
19 points by pietro 3489 days ago | hide | past | web | 25 comments | favorite



I'm sure it's fantastic to work at Google, if you're the kind of person who wants to work in a big company.

As for me, I made a cool mashup with the maps API, and they offered me a job, subject to approval by HR. You could tell by the way they were talking that they thought they were offering me a glimpse of a ticket to heaven. When I asked some clarifying questions, they didn't even bother to answer them. Silence for the insolent fool!

So arrogant they undoubtedly are. People inside the company find it hard to understand why anyone would not leap at the chance to work there. I was actually considering it but they shut down the conversation, and I'm glad about it now. I turned the mashup into a company and it now brings in a lot more than even Google would consider paying me.


Can I see the mashup?


Well, I got a job offer at Google and decided to turn it down. Sure, the food is great and you have everything you need but I think it's counter productive to starting a startup. You need to dislike your current job enough to want to do something else.

I also agree with the author that humility is a scarce resource at Google.


I recently met a very smart guy who has worked at Google for nearly a year, and he had almost nothing positive to say about it. In his whole large division, there seemed to be hardly anybody who actually got anything done. And, worse, there was no method for firing people who didn't do anything.


Can someone explain why this got upmodded to #1? It reads like it was written by a 23 year old who just got turned down by google's HR department. And then:

Don't get me started about the developers. They hardly do any work, they get quoted in the press all the time as if they're gods, and make millions of dollars, and I do all the work

Huh? Satire? I can't tell...


Because it's Dave Winer.


His parents must have been clairvoyant when they passed on the family name. If the shoe fits...


One of my co-founders worked for Google this past summer. He didn't have one negative word to say about it.


Looks like Winer is pretty much in line with many in the YC community: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=75433

Might this be the milestone we look back on and eval: (not (not (= google evil)))


Is Google guilty of early optimization? :)


Wow. His writing style is exceedingly annoying. And, either as a result of that or not, I feel as though this is the fifth installment of something he wrote of which I haven't read the preceding parts.


And what's with the tiny hash symbols at the end of every paragraph. I also found the article unpleasant.


Don't tell Dave Winer that to his face. He'll start rambling about OPML, outliners, and other shit only he and like 3 other people care about (i.e., way more people care about Haskell than they do about outliners from what I can tell).


Agreed, that's an entirely useless article with little information save his opinion.


Me too. why is this article number one? we need down vote.


i think this rose to the top because we all want validations of our dislike for google and its overwhelming self-righteousness


upvote everything else - kinda works(ish)?


What do you expect? He hangs out with John Markoff, who I consider one of the stupidest humans alive. Check out "Freedom Downtime" sometime for a good example of the light in which he paints his subjects.


I worked at Google for a while, pre-IPO. There were an awful lot of very smart, capable people (or so it seemed, out of the 200 or so that were there when I arrived), and the challenges in operations simply do not exist at any other company I have seen (you try administering 100K servers, expanding by about another 1000-2000 per week, using typical methods, and let me know how it goes, for example (%)). The hardware engineering produced numerous clever patents, the software engineers produced stuff like MapReduce, and despite the North Korean Labor Camp work ethos, people were generally pretty happy.

I have no idea if it's like that anymore. A lot of my friends who stuck around after the IPO report that it changed, that there arose much friction between the perceived old guard and the newer post-IPO employees. Maybe now that there are a zillion Googlers in a dozen or so countries (Ireland, Switzerland, India, China, and teh USA were already set up by the time I left), perhaps there's less camaraderie. Maybe the SarbOx role-based access control (which I helped implement as part of my job) means that you can't poke around MOMA and the Perforce tree after work hours and gawk at the new patents.

It was a great place to work, but in the end I moved on because I didn't get the position I really wanted to be promoted to, and I noticed that all of the guys doing really, really cool stuff had completed some advanced study, more often than not in CS or comp bio.

Given that machine learning doesn't seem to be going out of style, I have to try and remember that $80K or so is really not a very good salary for the amount of work that an SRE drone is responsible for, and figure out 'what next' instead.

I didn't have a wife or a kid when I left Google. Now I do. It's harder now to embrace the risks of starting up a company, although I made a sizable chunk of change in the meantime simply by developing and selling a hobby website. If the idea is solid and the execution solid, there's at least some chance that even the 'just for fun' projects will end up putting a roof over your head (literally, in my case).

I'm still conflicted, but I like to think that the mathematical and computational skills I've picked up in the meantime (especially modern statistical methodology, and applications in comp bio and machine learning) will continue to provide me with fun stuff to work on, regardless of what happens at Google. If it weren't on the opposite side of town, though, I'd be tempted to apply for a different job at Google once I finish my thesis. Hopefully I'll have something better to do with my life than be a cog, though.

(%) ps. If you've ever wondered whether it's better to automate everything up-front at your Little Start-Up: yes it is. You're not going to have any more time to deal with it if you succeed, and if your company stagnates, automation will make it easier to walk away and do something else.


What does Sarbanes-Oxley have to do with locking down parts of the source tree? I worked there a couple of years after you did, and there were a few parts of the source tree that were not public, but that was usually for crypto reasons. Config files, not algorithms.

I'm not sure what to tell you about Google today versus then. Yes, you will be a cog, but in one of the shiniest and most well-maintained machines ever. There's a non-negligible chance of doing a significant 20% project.

The one thing you'll notice is how much stricter the standards are for testing and code quality generally, while the codebase has expanded exponentially. Sometimes this results in code that's so great it practically makes you weep. Other times, especially for the really old projects, it becomes a morass of incomprehensibility but whose quality is carefully husbanded. I knew of a guy who spent weeks getting one change into the basic webserving code, because running all the tests took an entire day, and by the time he was done, other people had committed new changes that broke his change. It was Xeno's Changelist.

Maybe you can answer me one thing: in the early days, did people think they were a moral force for good in the world? As Dave Winer correctly notes, one of the amazing/insufferable things about Google is that many engineers there really think this -- especially the pre-IPO crowd. It's the sort of attitude that enables them to open for business in totalitarian China, because how could you deny the Chinese the wonderfulness of Google?

Also note the proliferation of teams which make promotional videos starring themselves. This started with a team that happens to have a very charismatic dude working for them, but it seems that everyone's doing it now.


> in the early days, did people think they were a moral force for good in the world

Yes. I thought it was ridiculous at first, but after a while I decided it was nice to be part of a group that had a moral compass -- and actually used it.


I don't know much about working at Google.

But using Adwords and dealing with some of the folks at Google was really a pleasant experience. They really went out of their way to accommodate me. I was really surprised!!


If they're taking your money, they're going to be helpful ;) But agreed. Far better customer service than microsoft or yahoo.


I just think Mr. Winer is not considering at what level you are at, meaning what kind of a position you'll be able to hold in these companies...I guess the experience will be quite different, so will the opportunities that will open up to you


What kind of salaries do people get working there?




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