Why I left Google

Ok, I relent. Everyone wants to know why I left and answering individually isn’t scaling so here it is, laid out in its long form. Read a little (I get to the punch line in the 3rd paragraph) or read it all. But a warning in advance: there is no drama here, no tell-all, no former colleagues bashed and nothing more than you couldn’t already surmise from what’s happening in the press these days surrounding Google and its attitudes toward user privacy and software developers. This is simply a more personal telling.

It wasn’t an easy decision to leave Google. During my time there I became fairly passionate about the company. I keynoted four Google Developer Day events, two Google Test Automation Conferences and was a prolific contributor to the Google testing blog. Recruiters often asked me to help sell high priority candidates on the company. No one had to ask me twice to promote Google and no one was more surprised than me when I could no longer do so. In fact, my last three months working for Google was a whirlwind of desperation, trying in vain to get my passion back.

The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus.

Technically I suppose Google has always been an advertising company, but for the better part of the last three years, it didn’t feel like one. Google was an ad company only in the sense that a good TV show is an ad company: having great content attracts advertisers.

Under Eric Schmidt ads were always in the background. Google was run like an innovation factory, empowering employees to be entrepreneurial through founder’s awards, peer bonuses and 20% time. Our advertising revenue gave us the headroom to think, innovate and create. Forums like App Engine, Google Labs and open source served as staging grounds for our inventions. The fact that all this was paid for by a cash machine stuffed full of advertising loot was lost on most of us. Maybe the engineers who actually worked on ads felt it, but the rest of us were convinced that Google was a technology company first and foremost; a company that hired smart people and placed a big bet on their ability to innovate.

From this innovation machine came strategically important products like Gmail and Chrome, products that were the result of entrepreneurship at the lowest levels of the company. Of course, such runaway innovative spirit creates some duds, and Google has had their share of those, but Google has always known how to fail fast and learn from it.

In such an environment you don’t have to be part of some executive’s inner circle to succeed. You don’t have to get lucky and land on a sexy project to have a great career. Anyone with ideas or the skills to contribute could get involved. I had any number of opportunities to leave Google during this period, but it was hard to imagine a better place to work.

But that was then, as the saying goes, and this is now.

It turns out that there was one place where the Google innovation machine faltered and that one place mattered a lot: competing with Facebook. Informal efforts produced a couple of antisocial dogs in Wave and Buzz. Orkut never caught on outside Brazil. Like the proverbial hare confident enough in its lead to risk a brief nap, Google awoke from its social dreaming to find its front runner status in ads threatened.

Google could still put ads in front of more people than Facebook, but Facebook knows so much more about those people. Advertisers and publishers cherish this kind of personal information, so much so that they are willing to put the Facebook brand before their own. Exhibit A: www.facebook.com/nike, a company with the power and clout of Nike putting their own brand after Facebook’s? No company has ever done that for Google and Google took it personally.

Larry Page himself assumed command to right this wrong. Social became state-owned, a corporate mandate called Google+. It was an ominous name invoking the feeling that Google alone wasn’t enough. Search had to be social. Android had to be social. You Tube, once joyous in their independence, had to be … well, you get the point. Even worse was that innovation had to be social. Ideas that failed to put Google+ at the center of the universe were a distraction.

Suddenly, 20% meant half-assed. Google Labs was shut down. App Engine fees were raised. APIs that had been free for years were deprecated or provided for a fee. As the trappings of entrepreneurship were dismantled, derisive talk of the “old Google” and its feeble attempts at competing with Facebook surfaced to justify a “new Google” that promised “more wood behind fewer arrows.”

The days of old Google hiring smart people and empowering them to invent the future was gone. The new Google knew beyond doubt what the future should look like. Employees had gotten it wrong and corporate intervention would set it right again.

Officially, Google declared that “sharing is broken on the web” and nothing but the full force of our collective minds around Google+ could fix it. You have to admire a company willing to sacrifice sacred cows and rally its talent behind a threat to its business. Had Google been right, the effort would have been heroic and clearly many of us wanted to be part of that outcome. I bought into it. I worked on Google+ as a development director and shipped a bunch of code. But the world never changed; sharing never changed. It’s arguable that we made Facebook better, but all I had to show for it was higher review scores.

As it turned out, sharing was not broken. Sharing was working fine and dandy, Google just wasn’t part of it. People were sharing all around us and seemed quite happy. A user exodus from Facebook never materialized. I couldn’t even get my own teenage daughter to look at Google+ twice, “social isn’t a product,” she told me after I gave her a demo, “social is people and the people are on Facebook.” Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn’t invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation. The fact that no one came to Google’s party became the elephant in the room.

Google+ and me, we were simply never meant to be. Truth is I’ve never been much on advertising. I don’t click on ads. When Gmail displays ads based on things I type into my email message it creeps me out. I don’t want my search results to contain the rants of Google+ posters (or Facebook’s or Twitter’s for that matter). When I search for “London pub walks” I want better than the sponsored suggestion to “Buy a London pub walk at Wal-Mart.”  

The old Google made a fortune on ads because they had good content. It was like TV used to be: make the best show and you get the most ad revenue from commercials. The new Google seems more focused on the commercials themselves.

Perhaps Google is right. Perhaps the future lies in learning as much about people’s personal lives as possible. Perhaps Google is a better judge of when I should call my mom and that my life would be better if I shopped that Nordstrom sale. Perhaps if they nag me enough about all that open time on my calendar I’ll work out more often. Perhaps if they offer an ad for a divorce lawyer because I am writing an email about my 14 year old son breaking up with his girlfriend I’ll appreciate that ad enough to end my own marriage. Or perhaps I’ll figure all this stuff out on my own.

The old Google was a great place to work. The new one?


Comments (611)
  1. Josh McVey says:

    I appreciate your honesty and insight.   Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jim Reardon says:

    The only thing I can disagree with is that I strongly believe sharing is broken.  It's just *still* broken.

  3. Brian McMaster says:

    I thoroghly enjoyed the ad-related humor =).  Glad to have you back at Microsoft.

  4. Neil Mosafi says:

    So what made you join Microsoft?

  5. Lord Blade says:

    I am so happy someone shares the same thoughts as mine. Cheers bro, love the honesty.

  6. Hitesh Sharma says:

    Curious to learn what made you come back to Microsoft?

  7. gesher says:

    How can I share this on google plus?

  8. Christian says:

    Nice to work where you don't have to think about revenues…

  9. Scott Barnes says:

    +1/Like on this – "When I search for “London pub walks” I want better than the sponsored suggestion to "Buy a London pub walk at Wal-Mart"…"

  10. drew says:

    So… you joined Microsoft? Hate to break it to you, but that ship has sailed and sunk.

    I agreed with everything in your post, though. It's nice to hear the truth spoken honestly.

  11. Unseelie says:

    Former MSoftie here… at the risk of speaking for Dr. Whittaker, I'd guess that it has a lot to do with how seriously QA is taken at MS, and  the degree that his teaching has already influenced the test org.

    No longer at MS, but I still recommend your books to new QA engineers.

  12. someone in a similar position says:

    i like your thoughts and i agree with most of your points. my only issue is where this story ends. you are at microsoft now…the graveyard of creativity.

    but other than that, great post!

  13. Josh Fredstone says:

    I was considering going back to Google. No more – Facebook is where its at, and I am staying put here.

  14. Mick says:

    But why Microsoft of all places? They've got to be the one of the least creative places of all the big tech Co's. They're not exactly the poster child of do-no-evil either.

  15. I totally understand your pain, I really don't like when google+ is shoved up your throat everywhere you look on Google. It made me stop using Picassa and I miss the old search where u got nothing but the search instead of other extra social stuff that I really don't care about.

  16. Drew Kitty says:

    Many of the gatekeepers in the technology industry use pseudonyms.  I certainly do.

    The active and blatant hostility of Google+ to pseudonyms certainly helped sink the platform, like a gaping hole in the bottom.

  17. Ivan says:

    So… after all this self rightousness, you went to Microsoft?

  18. Hernan Marquez says:

    Wow, great post. Although I have never worked at Google, I have always admired the company and what they brought to the table. Recently, however, I have been worried about the company and the new courses they seem to have taken. Thanks for sharing.

  19. T says:

    It's ironic then that you joined Microsoft…

  20. Yuval says:

    Why can't this page be rendered properly in safari.

  21. Steve says:

    I have to be honest with you. All of Google's products are TERRIBLE except for Gmail, and even that is inferior to Outlook on the web now.

    I used Google Apps for years, and Google just doesn't listen to customers. The engineers that ran the company needed some corporate intervention. I just think Larry Page tried to turn Google into a different company, rather than just focusing the great ideas into actually great products.

  22. Matt says:

    It seems the tech titans all have this pendulum thing going on.  Google appears to be beginning its swing in the "evil" direction.  Apple seems like they're nearing the peak of "evil".  And Microsoft seems like they're back in the middle, trying to swing up to the "good" side.  So, if you look at it from that perspective, Microsoft is the obvious choice.

    Good luck!

  23. Anonymous says:

    I agree with almost everything you said and enjoyed your post. Furthermore, thank you for taking a stand against this stupid notion of blatant disregard of privacy.

  24. Edward says:

    Thank you for sharing.  It's as much as I expected to hear.  When a company turns its back on its brand, the end is much closer than the beginning. And when your brand is "don't be evil" the end is sure to be gut wrenching.

    Good luck on your journey.

  25. Kris Patrick says:

    You joined Google from Microsoft and then back to Microsoft? So what you did is spied on Google development process and applied it back to Microsoft?

    This is what you called Microsoft Entryism. very classic tactic.

  26. Daisy says:

    I thought it was bullshit when I was creating a map for my vacation and an ad for a nearby hotel was added as a pinpoint on the map.

  27. VVR says:

    The stark truth in this insightful piece is the stuff you have not written..

    Atleast you had a choice in leaving google. But we as users don't.

    I have years of email in Gmail and docs and youtube etc. I can't switch.

    "Creepy" is not the word that comes to mind when Ads for Sauna, online textbooks, etc suddenly begin to track you, no matter which website you visit.

    You know you have lost when this happens..

  28. Jesse Hernandez says:

    Thank you for sharing your story James.

  29. Elena Lawrence says:

    I believe everything you say, and it is said well, but your lament for the "old" Google is a little far fetched. A history of < 3 years with a company isn't that long, even in tech years.

  30. David says:

    A fascinating insight, I think this reflects what a lot of people are seeing of Google from the outside. It seems everybody but Page can see that Google+ is – whilst technically brilliant – totally superfluous; your daughter is on the money. Also apparent from the outside is the desperation that surrounds Google+ – Page needs to face facts, hold his hands up and walk away from Social before they loose more staff like you, more users and all the magic that made Google so great.

    Best of luck with your new career at Microsoft, I hope they foster and encourage you as the Google of old did.

  31. Great to hear you're back James! Very insightful blog, as always.

  32. cb says:

    i never worked there. Just used it. I too have left Google for the same reasons/consumer side.

  33. Josh says:

    Google's mistake, was simply BRANDING.

    God, it's like they are so ARROGANT w/ their search. When you tell someone about Google Plus they go to googleplus.com

    I guess? Maybe they go to google and type in google +, but seriously IT SOUNDS DUMB. IT WAS DUMB, AND IT'S A STUPID FAD.


  34. Richard Murray says:

    "there is no drama here", you could've fooled me. But then again maybe it's more of a soap opera.

  35. Raith says:

    The trouble with Google+ is that I only need one social network. The same as I only need one TV. The big tech names will vie for my custom but only one will be successful, and I won't change until the one I've got is broken. But if you can't attract the current customers then you must attract the next gen. So, a social network that is child friendly (but not childish) is where the steal will be. Hook em while they're young. One day Facebook memories will be fondly +1'd in a Woodstock vein. But it's a long wait. Dear Google, can I have a job now please?

  36. George says:

    Microsoft? Really? Good luck!

  37. David Hollingshead says:

    I think even Steve Jobs would be appalled.

  38. yx says:

    wow we need more postings like this. it sure made me feel better about my current job

  39. R. Lawson says:

    Interesting perspective.  I use Google+ occasionally, but it really isn't that sticky.  I haven't spent the time to figure out why I don't appreciated it, but someone at Google should.  GoogleApps on the other hand – brilliant.  I used wave also… we made it work but the plug probably needed to be pulled.

    In any event thanks for sharing.  So where does a senior QA guy go after Google and Microsoft?  One of the most valuable roles but one of the least appreciated, unfortunately.  

  40. Travis Bryant says:

    Ironic that I don't comment much on blog posts, so I'm not that social myself, but had to comment on your post (which I found out about from my News Feed on Chatter, another irony). Your post comes across as supremely naive. How do you think your salary was paid? You wax philosophical about great Google was when it was a "technology company" … how do you think it paid the bills? It wasn't from its own "great content" … it aggregated other people's content better than any other company could do, and then put ads on top that paid for you and your colleagues to dream up the next product, which may or may not have made money for the company. Google is, and was, always a media company … it's the way it stayed in business! Unless you're working for free (and if you're independently wealthy, then good-on-ya), companies stay in business to make money. That's not 100% of the mission thankfully (and I work for one where it isn't the sole focus), but c'mon James – Google has a real threat to their long-term success as a company, and had to respond.

  41. It's amusing watching Google fans diss Microsoft as lacking innovation. Windows Phone is original and is not a slavish copy of iOS like Android. Windows 8 is tablets/mobile done right unlike Chrome and Android. MS Kinect has allowed people to bring new ideas to computing. Thanks to Google+, Google's search results are less relevant and more invasive. Which company is heading in the right direction?

  42. Ze says:

    Great post.  Thanks for sharing! Good luck on your new career at Microsoft!

  43. Raymond Traylor says:

    I understand Facebook is a threat to Google search but beating Facebook at their core competency was doomed to fail. Just like Bing to Google. I was so disappointed in Google following Facebook's evil ways of wanting to know everything about me I've stopped using their services one at a time, starting with Android.

    I am willing to pay for a lot of Google's free service to avoid advertising and harvesting my private data.

  44. root says:

    You claim old Google empowered intelligent people to be innovative, with the belief their creations would prove viable in the marketplace. You then go on to name Gmail and Chrome as the accomplishments of that endeavour. Are you ****** serious? Re-branding web based email is no more innovative than purchasing users for your social networking site, like Facebook did. Same for Chrome, or would you argue Google acquiring VOIP companies to then provide a mediocre service called Google Voice was also innovative? When you arrived at Google it had already turned the internet into a giant spamsense depository with the majority of screen real estate consumed by Google's ads. The downhill spiral did not begin with Google+, but it may end there. On a lighter note, you are now free. Launch a start-up and fill the gaping hole which will be left by the fall of the former giant.

  45. Enk Rypt3r says:

    10 years from now, the interweb is dead. We all use Facebook appliances for connectivity,  Zuckerborg runs for President and Ballmer's MSFT is the underdog filing for bankruptcy. Of course, Bill and Melinda have cured malaria in the Congo, unfortunately though, a new outbreak of the scourge around Lake Washington has afflicted thousands…

  46. Umm says:

    GMail has been doing ads for years, even prior to Facebook's rise. Wave had nothing to do with social, it didn't even have 'friending', it was an attempt to invent a new email system.

    You worked at Google, but only recently realized that GMail, Search, Maps, Chrome, Android, Docs, etc, all of that was paid for by ads?

    And then you go on to bash Google for actually trying to charge money for something (AppEngine and APIs) instead of offering it for free as an ad-based system?

  47. I just shared this on Google+. <blush>

    Great post. Appreciate the insights the warning about what happens when bottom-up entrepreneurship loses out to top-down corporate dictums.

    Re: sharing, while I agree sharing isn't broken (heck, it worked when all we had was email), it certainly needs more improvement. I can't stand Facebook. Hate the UI, don't care for the culture. Twitter is too noisy and, also, the UI sucks. I'm one of those who actually thinks Google+ got 21st century BBSing right.

    But if that's at the cost of everything else that made Google great, then it's a high price to pay.

    BTW, you can say a lot of these same things about similar moves Microsoft has made over the years, where the top brass decided they knew better, and screwed over developers and their investments in mountains of code.

    So, whether it happens in an HR context or a customer context, it still sucks as a practice.

  48. Orkut? says:

    Orkut launched before Facebook. Buzz was a clone of FriendFeed, not Facebook. Wave was an Email model.

    Seems there's some confusion.

  49. Daniel Redman says:

    I'm sure it was completely unbearable to work at one of the most powerful companies in the world, well-documented as having the best employee benefits.  I hope the truth is that you actually got let-go and are bitter, rather than you're beating up your former employer for allowing you to lose your passion.  Eaither way, sounds pretty childish if you ask me.  

  50. Girish says:

    Thank God.. never tried to get into Google. Would've been a waste of 6 months preparing for 'Google' interview

  51. WanderingTrader says:

    People don't realize that consumers have the power… if everyone stopped using google search I am 100% sure they would change their privacy policy back to what it was.  Great post….

  52. Andrea Ercolino says:

    Nice article, thank you for posting it.

  53. Edward Ferron says:

    That was a great post and read. Thanks!

  54. Google Plus is just inferior says:

    I feel that part of the reason Google Plus failed to lure users is that it is inferior product. One example is events. Facebook got many people to signup just to see events in the area, birthday invites etc. otherwise you are missing the events in your area. Google plus still does not have event support that shows on your timeline.

    This was requested here long time ago, but as with most feature requests, they are ignored:


  55. Sidharth says:

    I translated this to Hindi, and was the one of the funniest thing I've ever read on the internet! The translation just sucks a big time, why isn't that translation still in beta!

  56. Scott says:

    I think the people here who are badmouthing your decision to go to Microsoft fail to realize your main issue if Google puts advertising above all else.

    Microsoft may not be the hot company it once was creativity-wise, but you could never label it an advertising-based business.

    Maybe for James, this is what mattered most.

    I for one agree – coming from a background in advertising and then ditching that for a tech role, I agree wholeheartedly that marketing/ad people in companies are some of the worst thinkers and decision makers you can imagine. Absolutely terrible to be at any company where ad folk and money men run the show.

  57. SM says:

    MSDN – the place to find best .net code samples – is not the best forum for credible Google "exposure"!

  58. Albert Conn says:

    I get the '-1' but seems like post-decrement '1-' would be more apropos. 🙂

  59. The Definition of Irony says:

    Just wanted to check in here and say that I saw this post because it was shared on Reader 2000 (see http://reader2000.tumblr.com/), which was built as a stopgap "oh shitshitshit" replacement when Google arbitrarily decided to stop supporting shared items on Google Reader — the only time Google really did get sharing RIGHT.

  60. Why Microsoft ? says:

    You could have stayed at home.

  61. ex-googler says:

    Being an ex-googler, ex-msftie myself, what it is that you couldn't do better at Google to drive innovation that you can do at MS?]

    Microsoft is still the 2 trick pony that won the market by killing competition. They are milking the windows and office franchises and creating me-too products that are losing billions.

  62. Chang L says:

    This is pretty typical of people who've joined Google and stayed for less than 5 years. They think they understand Google, but they don't. It's easy to say google is just ____ now, but it takes a lot of time to fully understand the culture and all the things going on instead of just blindly trying to tell people what Google should do. Everyone has an opinion, only few people have good ones. So, to this, I say good riddance.

  63. Madhur Ahuja says:

    I agree with your reason of leaving Google. But back to Microsoft ? This is the worst decision you could have made.

    The Microsoft is also  an company with a single corporate-mandated focus and not the passionate one.

  64. Xavier says:

    In a nutshell: "Google is becoming bluntly evil so I'm leaving for Microsoft" ? Just hope you left for their research division.

  65. as if microsoft is any better lol says:


  66. bound2run says:

    I have made a concerted effort to move away from Google products after their recent March 1st privacy policy change. I must say the Bing is working just fine for me. Gmail will be a bit tougher but I am making strides. Now I just need to dump my Android phone and I will be "creepy-free" … for the time being.

  67. Srikanth Patnaik says:

    Yup. -1 more.

  68. greatsir says:

    from google back to microsoft. hah. just admit it. microsoft is paying you more.  none of this "google has lost its aim" bullshit.

  69. Alex Garcia says:

    Who cares? Another disgruntled employee who thinks he has a right to set the direction of the company he works for.

    If you are that good James Whittaker just go and create your own company. You are not a victim, you were just left in the past with an ideal. Grow up and move on.

  70. LOLZ says:

    And working for soulless M$ is better! ROFL

  71. YoureKiddingMe says:

    As someone who has worked for more than a decade at MSFT and now works at Google, all I can say is if you think innovation was stifled at Google, MSFT is hardly the place to go – heck, I have the same reasons as you and I went in the opposite direction and am pretty sure I made the right move. Why didn't you go to Facebook? Probably because you like money, and Microsoft offered you more, but you're dressing it up. You might have more credibility with this argument if you went to a startup.

  72. Jim says:

    The typical opportunist guy.

    I envision you write a similar blog/topic about the Microsot rihgt after you leave MS. We don't expect better from…

    Cheap, cheap, cheap.

  73. Fruh says:

    I think I made only a handful of picture posts on my G+ account. I would take pictures of empty waiting rooms, put a snazzy photo effect to it and the captions read something along the lines of "Hello? Google+? Is anyone here?"

    I had about 4-5 of those before I just deleted the whole thing. I didn't feel the need to have my email contacts so fastidiously organized, or even have the email contacts for some people i was just internet friends with on facebook.

  74. noway says:

    weak. kiss-and-tell from a traitor. this man has no loyalty and has the audacity to blast google from his msdn account. ha!

  75. I always find myself a big fan of Google.  I was even praying for the past 5 years that they open an office here in the Philippines.

    Your words just proved how much I loved G that now I need to re-think and call this a cool-off with G.

  76. Jose Trigueros says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I hope you can have some kind of impact in Microsoft, but I feel like Microsoft is doing the same thing, they just happened to be Facebook's friend. Everything that Microsoft is making now revolves around the idea of "integrated experiences." I don't know how that is any better, I hope it doesn't turn in to a social battle.

  77. Sunil says:

    honest comments! it shows how much u loved it before .. !!

  78. Phil Ashman says:

    Why can't I click on +1 to this article anywhere?…..;P

    The ability to actually consume shared content in an efficient and productive manner is still as broken as ever. They never addressed the issue in Buzz and still haven't with G+ despite people ranting at them for this functionality forever.

    Funny that I should read your post today as I wrote the following comment on another persons post a couple days back over Vic's recent interview where someone brought up the lack of a G+ API:

    "But if it were a social network…….then they are doing a pretty piss poor job of managing the G+ interface and productive consumption of the stream. It would be nice if there was at least an API so some 3rd party clients could assist with the filtering of the noise, but in reality the issue is in the distribution of the stream. What really burns me is that it wouldn't be that hard for them to create something like subscribable circles.

    Unfortunately the reality is that they just don't care about whether the G+ stream is productive for you at the moment as their primary concern isn't for you to productively share and discuss your interests with the world, but to simply provide a way for you to tell Google what you like so they can target you with advertising. As a result, the social part of Google+ really isn't anything to shout about at the moment."

    You've just confirmed my fear about how the company's focus has changed.

  79. Ananya Das (ananyadas@hotmail.com) says:

    A great write-up. Disillusionment does not go well with passion. And passion keeps us going . If we are no longer passionate about what we are doing, we should move ahead.

  80. vance says:

    And you think you will find creativity at Microsoft? HAHA

    ex-ms employee

  81. rekaber says:

    Maybe it's you, not them.

  82. I never worked for Google but read your article yelling, "Yes! Yes, yes! About time someone said it!" I liked the old Google as a user MUCH better and have grown increasingly annoyed with bad search results (based on sponsors, as you point out), and all the annoying or creepy distractions thrown up at me based on what I type in private messages. I don't want all my services melded, and linked, and synced, and rolled into one, and selling all my personal info to companies whose products I never buy and never will. They ruined YouTube for multiple account users.  I don't use Facebook and don't want to, and further, I resent everything being Apple-ized as well (assuming we all own ONLY iPads and iPhones and building content around Apple OS to the exclusion of others). I find I use the internet much less now except for basic email, and Twitter. It used to be great as an information source but now it's more noise…and frankly, getting a little scarier every day with all the invasions to privacy. Time to return to Linux…or maybe there's a new kid on the block in the wings.

  83. Rick New says:

    The thing is, for many of their users, this is why we want out of Google.

    Companies always seem to abandon the attitudes that attract their customers in the first place.

    Hopefully, everyone will start to smell what it means to be used by Facebook, Google and the like. Can't large companies decide to make their customers the customer?

  84. Duc Nguyen says:

    Agree 100%.  what do you think? IMHO, there's a need for "separation of church and state"; this social phenomena may be heading for "separation of needs and wants".

  85. Rob says:

    And you went to Microsoft? Microsoft?! One of the most corrupt technology companies on the planet and you feel better about that? Microsoft?!

  86. Dean says:

    I work at a place that's been around since the beginning of the web.  We used to act on people's ideas and let them try things out.  At least in our group, which was responsible for the Internet work.   That gave way to jealousy outside the group, because we were bringing in money, and others were not.  They worked to undermine our group, and ended up succeeding.   I still work here because of family obligations, and no other reason.

    Killing people's innovative spirit is one of the worst things that can be done.   I wish I had those days back.

  87. Carl says:

    "-1" indeed

  88. TejasJ says:

    Thank you very much for sharing your experience!

  89. shreesha says:

    Only innovation doesn’t get you money. Most of the google products (google labs) never  had clear objective. So they have to depend only single big money puller. In between they lost track

  90. John says:

    In the past I worked for both Google and Microsoft. I far preferred the former to the latter, so good luck back on the Death Star. Calling the Google Wave "dog" a competitor to Facebook raises a red flag as you clearly didn't understand what it was about. If you were in deadend job on Google+, are you resentful that you couldn't get into the GoogleX projects?

  91. Jacob Stevens says:

    I can definitely empathize, James. I feel there's some credence here, and it's courageous to speak up like this.

    But, I can't ignore that MSFT loves to take shots at Google, and, well, you're employed by them, now. I'm not making an accusation, but it's not something I can altogether dismiss.

  92. jim cikolokko says:

    so? what shall we do?

  93. Anonymous says:

    Brilliant, brilliant post. It's completely true — we can see it happening right in front of our eyes. And I share the same sentiment as well. Wonder if it's too late to get back the old Google.

    Great insights, wise words from your daughter, and a beautiful TV analogy. Oh, and the ending was icing on the cake.

  94. donna says:

    Wait – there are ADS on the Internet??? Huh. Never see 'em.

  95. Hemant says:

    Wow, moving back to Microsoft, must love Balmer 😀

  96. Jade Qin says:

    Thanks for sharing James! Good luck with your journey!

  97. zenwalker says:

    Nice post with honest opinions and insights. But again as every one says, why damn Microshit? Too bad..

  98. Jeff Carollo says:


  99. Debashis Ghosh says:

    Brilliantly written. I loved the way the rivalry has been potrayed in Google's view!!

  100. Debashis Ghosh says:

    Even after reading this post, my dream Company remains Google!! 🙂 !! LOL!!

  101. Akshay says:

    Here Here!

  102. Welcome back to Microsoft.  I was saddened when you left.

  103. Pascal says:

    Thx for sharing. Inspiring blog. Inspiring because in the world of innovation it seems to be very difficult to stay on top and to keep innovative and inspiring. Your blog gives a good insight at this

  104. Harry says:

    Google+ is an awful idea, ans SPY-World is even worse – investors should be questioning Page and pushing for a new CEO and new direction for Google before it is too late. Lost focus.

  105. Hasan Mubarak says:

    I love the '-1' at the end and totally agree with you on where Google went wrong with customized social advertising.

  106. Aleksander Aas says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. Tell your daughter that I'm going to use “social isn’t a product, social is people and the people are on Facebook." in the future..

  107. We appreciate your honesty and insight. I take your joining of Microsoft as a sign that MS are going in a better direction than Google.


  108. Alice Wonder says:

    Thanks for this. I love many of the things Google has done. Summer of code, WebM, Google Earth, free web fonts, etc.

    I really was disappointed with Google+. I waited for an invite, and when I finally got one, I started to use it. Then the google main search page started to include google+ notifications, and the JS crashed my browser. Repeatedly. I had to clear my cache and delete my cookies just so google wouln't know it was me and crash search with a notification. They fixed that issue quickly but I did not understand why they would risk their flagship product (search) to promote google plus. The search page really should be a simple form.

    And google plus not allowing aliases? Do I want a company that is tracking everything I do centrally to have my real name with that tracking? No. Hence I do not use google+ anymore, and am switching to a different search engine and doing as little as I can with google.

    I really don't like to dislike google because of all they have done that was cool, it is really sad for me to see this happening.

  109. Carol Crawford says:

    I appreciate your view,as I'm sorta new to the internet,since August 2011 and I'm partial to Google+ personally.Thanks for sharing your side.

  110. Ian Smith says:

    Isn't it inevitable that Google will end up like Microsoft. A brain-dead dinosaur employing sycophantic middle class bores, who are simply working towards a safe haven of retirement. In the end Google will be passed by. It's not a design-led innovator like Apple: it's a boring, grey utilitarian, Soviet-like beast. Google Apps are cheap – but very nasty – Gmail is a terrible UI – and great designers will never work for this anti-design/pro-algorithms empire.

  111. anon says:

    dude i really appreciate you putting this up

    i can relate to it in so many  ways although i never worked for Google

  112. Chang L says:

    How much did Microsoft pay you to write this? All Microsoft does these days is bash other companies publicly. Also, they just copy search results. I guess it makes sense since they hire people like you who have no passion and are just in it for the money, so you do whatever you are told.

    Microsoft makes me sick.

  113. RoryH says:

    Interesting that there's no share to Google+ link on your post. 🙂

    Thanks for the good article

  114. Brian says:

    Thanks for sharing this, James! Is this what all of Silicon Valley has become?

  115. Sad says:

    The saddest thing about your post is that you wrote;

    "In such an environment you don’t have to be part of some executive’s inner circle to succeed"

    Welcome to Microsoft.

  116. Microsoft fan says:

    Brilliant post – made me smile in a few places. And to those questioning Microsoft – you clearly havent seen Windows 8…..

  117. JeffinLondon says:


    Sorry to hear your bubble was burst. Google is a public company, it exists to make money for its investors. And its transition from youth to adulthood was totally predictable. More power to Larry's attempt to put more wood behind fewer arrows. Apple has done quite well doing exactly that.

    Good luck at MSFT.


  118. Jasper Janssen says:

    I've finally managed to reconnect with my group of friends (that originated on Usenet) using Google+, because unlike FaceBook or LiveJournal, it doesn't suck.

    If Google+ gets shut down after a few years (Wave, I'm looking at you..)  because it's unsuccessful, that will probably be the last straw for me ever using a Google product again.

  119. Anushka Prabhudesai says:

    A real man sharing its birth and death at Google..I know how painful it would have been to go back at start and come to reality.

  120. Zarniw0Op (Twitter) says:

    Awesome! Welcome back to Microsoft, Windows Phone and Windows 8 and a cozy releationship with people and their favourite haunts, Facebook and Twitter. A very balanced post, well done 🙂

  121. Gem says:

    Interesting – thank you for sharing!

    Personally, I'm not sure why it has to be one or the other. I use Facebook for social sharing, but Facebook is full of status updates that I care very little about (and I still resent being told what my "top stories" should be). I use Google+ for sharing more serious things – work, politics etc, and I'm eagerly awaiting the day that it becomes more popular because, frankly, it's a better service for me.

    Sharing isn't broken. Google just needs to realise that the kind of sharing that it is good at (blog posts, considered discussion) isn't the kind of sharing that Facebook is good at (keeping up with friends). It needs to embrace the differences (and also allow its users to customize the top navigation bar, because that would be a big step in showing users that they care about individual needs).

  122. Truth says:

    I think the problem is that you are not comfortable with innovation !

    You just took a 3-year break from Microsoft to get some relief from the boring environment there.

    You could have done great work in many departments at Google, and now you have to work on the age-old software, which has sank to a new low with the development of Windows 8 . Sorry bro !

  123. Mike Whitehead says:

    Sounds like Google have stopped focusing on what problem they're solving and moving onto trying to influence consumer behaviour – always a much more difficult trick to pull off. Great article – well done for sharing in such a humble and ethical manner. Best of luck for the future.

  124. vasyapetya says:

    I think we just have to wait until Google accepts its failure and defeat with G+.

  125. A reader says:

    It looks like a piece written by MS's PR staff. It has all the Google-bashing talking points I've come to expect from MS, from Gmail ads to APIs. Where's the beef?

  126. hot_frog says:

    "So what made you join Microsoft?"

    Well, after I stole all the ideas I could from Google, I had to get back to Microsoft, as we agreed.

  127. jmacdonald says:

    great write-up

    personally i think that google and facebook have misread the sociological trend against the toleration of adverts, to such an extent that if indeed google are following the 'facebook know everything and we do too' route, i suspect both companies may enter into issues as the advertising CPMs fall and we're left with us wretched consumers who find ways around experiences that we don't want

    more on this stuff here: http://www.jonathanmacdonald.com

    and here: http://www.jonathanmacdonald.com

    for anyone that cares about that kinda angle

  128. Confused says:

    So what was so compelling and entrepreneurial at Microsoft. I see something wrong with you not the companies you are working for.

  129. Geoffrey van Wyk says:

    Plus One, man!

  130. Alex Garcia says:

    Maybe you should try working for Foxconn (China). I heard they love to work there and it's not for money.

  131. Dixit says:

    100% true, google has no more doodle for people, all they want is money by using word "open source"

  132. What about social standardization? says:

    Isn't it innovative?

  133. David says:

    Google is a NSA/CIA social media octopus disguised as a advertising company.

  134. This blog platform is so poor says:

    Can't even +1/like comments!

  135. Andoni says:

    Interesting at all.

  136. Mahboob Ihsan says:

    Google products are useful but probably they could have done more to improve the GUI, Standardization and Usability. You can continue to earn business in short term enjoying your strategic advantage as long as you don't have competitors. But as soon as you have just one competitor offering quality products at same cost, your strategic advantage is gone and you have to compete through technology, cost and quality. Google has been spreading its business wings to so many areas, probably with the single point focus of short term business gains. Google should have learnt from Apple that your every new offering should be better (in user’s eye) than the previous one.

  137. Joe says:

    Freaking awesome post. The new Google gives me the creeps. What ever happened to "Don't be evil"?

  138. Ted says:

    You talk about 20% being half-assed, products being canceled because they don't succeed as well as they should and that Google isn't fun to work anymore. You then return to Microsoft (where most products die without notice): credibility -1

  139. Andy Watt says:

    I read a Register piece at


    which covers this blog pretty well, apart from making a slight accusation –

    "Whittaker, of course, has now returned to the Microsoft fold, so arguably he may simply have joined Redmond's breathless campaign to *** about Google. But his blog post makes some salient points, already expressed elsewhere, about Page's plans for the world's biggest search engine biz."

    Is there any truth to that? Personally I think the statement "so arguably he may simply have joined Redmond's breathless campaign to *** about Google" is crappy journalism, an unarguable, unprovable slur – I personally hope you're being 100% genuine, because the content of the post comes across that way. If so, I applaud you for your honesty.

  140. Zillox says:

    True, Innovation comes from people from the low end and not when you running behind a company.

  141. xyzzy says:

    why i didn't join google.  oh i remember… bcoz they didn't call me even after i sent a 6 page resume.

  142. Nan says:

    I'm not a tech person, so I lean to medicine for my analogy, but my concern is that Google is becoming more like a cancer and less a helpful gut bacterium on the human corpus?

  143. Dave McManus says:

    "Google does know evil."

  144. Got beaten by Steve Ballmer to write this post? says:

    Otherwise he would not have allowed you to join Micro$oft

  145. ianaz says:

    Very interesting article, thanks for sharing it

  146. Morgan Fosstveit says:

    Long time since I read a whole blog article. VERY interesting. Maybe something bigger is going on. We'll see it all when we look back, in the future.

  147. Jay Acunzo says:

    I left Google last year to pursue a startup and my dream of innovating. I worked in sales (in the Boston office), and can safely say I always felt like I fed the innovation beast but never actually innovated. Sounds like you felt the two worlds colliding, but not in a good way. I'd still return to Google (I worked as a social specialist on Google+ part-time), but I hate to hear that things from my world (sales/ads, which I don't particularly love) have nudged into yours (innovation).

    Thanks for your honesty in this post!



  148. Gabe says:

    Very very few people stick to whats they know to be right for them..and congrats on being one of them..you'll be fine in the world…Good Luck

  149. Governor Rick Perry (Pointy Boots) says:


  150. Anonymous Coward says:

    What irrititates me most about Google is that nowadays everything they make has to have their blue-with-white paint over it. It used to be the case that your computer looked like you wanted it to. Just go to the Control Panel and pick different colours. But Google has decided that we aren't allowed that simple freedom any more. It's like all car dealers only sell pink cars. It may seem like a little thing, but I hate them for it. And there is no gain for them; it's like they're doing it out of sheer spite.

  151. Gregory says:

    While i can sympathize your desire not to take on the change, google is headed in the right direction. With more people ever so slightly learning hat facebook api is collecting info on you when you sign into any website using it. It will come down to who you trust in the future of both search and social. If a good friend of mine shopped for a hirt at a store and liked it, i would shop it if i trusted their taste. Its the future and like all hings will be tweaked from facebook playtime to function. Most mployers block facebook bc of this reason, but they would never block google.

  152. Dominic Wong says:

    Great shame, old Google sounded awesome…

  153. Leslie Mason says:

    James, thank you for sharing.  Your passion clearly comes through and I agree with you about creativity and innovation being core to your job.  You should come work with us at Intuit. 🙂

  154. J.Cruz says:

    +1, but sharing across the web is annoyingly difficult. G+ has made it a tad better.

  155. Will Smith says:

    As much as the gripes that you have working at google, what if this is as good as it gets in this world? Also all the credibility I had for this writeup is lost the moment I learned that you are now at Microsoft .. huh *%$#@&..?

  156. Former Ads SRE says:

    They certainly didn't seem to appreciate us much. One of the most thankless jobs in the company.

  157. james says:

    Man you lack ethics. Everything you claimed you use to love at Google and left because it was changing are absent in Microsoft where you moved to.

    You are a common mercenary. Education with a moral compass is bad.

    I wonder what rubbish you will write when you leave Microsoft for a second time.

    Get a life.

  158. Florida Tech alumni... says:

    Sucks to hear what's happened inside of Google, after one of your webinars I had hailed it in my brain as the 'ideal place to go'.  Good to see you back to Microsoft (contrary to what most folks seem to be commenting), though one day I'd love to see you back teaching in Florida! 🙂


    ~Former student & lowly automation tester

  159. Hema says:

    Thank you for the insight.

  160. Stefano says:

    Weirs to see you leaving Google cause is becoming to much "business oriented" or focused on commercial to join Microsoft that is the most commercial oriented "tech" company (this is also why I put the tech double quoted).

    I really hope this could be a new sign, something is changing cause Microsoft deserve better than that.

    Will see.

    Good luck.

  161. Simone says:

    All thumbs up on the paragraph near the end saying that search results shouldn't include rants by other users or ads, and that e-mail ads shouldn't be based on what I'm typing. This is EXACTLY the reason why I'm moving to another e-mail provider and why I don't put much value any longer on the usability of search results. I thought it was just me but it's great to see that even some former Google employees feel that way!

  162. AL says:

    I appreciate the honesty… but you went to Microsoft?  Somehow that detracts from your entire post.  Microsoft is a plague on the industry foregoing innovation and instead pursuing litigation.

    At this point in time no amount of money could sway me to work at Microsoft.  I couldn't live honestly with myself working for such a despicable company.

  163. Elisa says:

    Sharing isn't broken. Innovation drove google, and then shareholders took control. Why would they ever want to take risks?

  164. David Erwin says:

    When I was looking for a job in late 2010 it came down to Google and The New York Times.  I chose the Times suspecting the reasons above and am glad for it.  Generating and disseminating information to the most influential people in the world is what I want to be doing with my skills, and our culture is moving strongly toward innovation

  165. Cal says:

    Great read. Best of luck and thanks for the honest insight

  166. Nuruddin Zainal says:



  167. Yan Charette says:

    I am heart broken, not about the fact they read my email but more of this Great compagny direction.

  168. Jonathan Marks says:

    Fasicnating insight. But why is the next step Microsoft?

  169. Eugene Foolstak says:

    Larry's strategy of bringing more focus internally (i.e. bigger bets on fewer things) will drive out those who are more at home in an environment where there is a lack of accountability. There were and are hundreds of Googlers who futz around for a few years, achieve nothing, but are happy to get fat on the food and perks while bragging to their friends about how great life is at the plex. Google will be better for it in the long run.

  170. Erica says:

    “social is people and the people are on Facebook.”  This. This. This. This. Dear companies everywhere – social is people. Everything else you're doing is pointless.

    Your daughter is going to be an innovator, because she sees what is clearly. Now train her to see what can be.

  171. Victor Ramirez says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful blog post. Anybody who has objectively observed Google's behavior and activity over the past few years has known that Google is going in this direction. I think that people have to recognize that Google, while very technically smart, is an advertising company first and foremost. Their motto says the right things about being good and organizing the world's information, but we all know what Google is honestly interested in. The thing that Google is searching for, more than almost anything else, is about getting more data about people so they can get people better ads they'll be more likely to click on so they make more money. Right now, Google is facing what might be considered an existential threat from Facebook because they are the company that is best able to get social data right now. Facebook is getting so much social data that odds are that they're long-term vision is to some point seriously competing in search using this social data that they have. Between Facebook's huge user-base and momentum amongst businesses (just look at how many Super Bowl ads featured Facebook pages being promoted for instance, look at the sheer number of companies listed at http://www.buyfacebookfansreviews.com that do nothing other than promote Facebook business pages, and look at the biggest factor out there – the fact that Facebook's IPO is set to dominate 2012) I think that Facebook has the first legitimate shot of creating a combination of quality results and user experience to actually challenge Google's dominance, and that's pretty exciting to watch. The fact that Google is working on Google+ so much and making that such a centerpiece of their efforts only goes to illustrate how critical this all is and how seriously they take this challenge from Facebook into their core business. I think Facebook eventually enters the search market and really disrupts it and it will be interesting to see how Google eventually acts from a position of weakness.

  172. Madeh says:

    By being the engineering director of Google+, you're one of its creators. You should have stopped at expressing your feeling about Google's strategy and not emphasize the failure of Google+.

  173. Mohan says:

    You joining MS and writing this post about innovation and Google not being a technology company seems to fishy. Maybe this rant is part of your agreement with MS.  

  174. Usman says:

    Google was always good at creating products not competing.

  175. David Stanley says:

    Wknderful post! Makes me sad that google has shifted focus like this, but your insight explains much of the reasoning behind it

  176. luca says:

    i love the final "-1" lool! troll!!! ahah!

  177. Harsh Bhanvadia says:

    James Whittaker, I hope your next blog post would be how EVIL microsoft is, charging hundreds of $$$ for OS, and putting 9 versions of same thing with different price offerings. And your next post would be on Facebook, thats just by judging by your journey, and need of being famous. Microsoft-Google-Microsoft-???? are you stable or loyal to any company or even yourself? How can you blame whole company if you cant work good enough.

    And you expect being paid by Google without ADS? how the heck will google earn, its not cheating people like MS does, selling OS for 399$, which is fact too much. Most of google's stuff is free, and Ads is only thing that gives google ability to pay salaries of employees. If you dont like ads use Ad-blockers, or popup blockers, but dont just degrade company by it.

  178. r u retarted or wat says:

    Anything that is good, ideally is not advertised and needs no marketing..

    How dumb of u to go to google , that is marketed (read perception fabrication) and expect it as a  good place to work.

    The best places to work , eat , live rarely need to take trouble to create a perception about themselves to the world.

    if u truly seek a good place…I think it will find you…sooner or later..

  179. Viviana says:

    "Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn’t invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation." Love it!

  180. Ramin says:

    Just can say one word: shame!

    And by the way, why does Microsoft always try to attack Google? Isn't there any more room for innovation? All rooms are occupied by Google???

  181. Beto Vega says:

    Microsoft, what can you expect from this person…

  182. gp says:

    You left Google for reason but why the hell you joined Microsoft , its a pit of corporate bureaucratic mediocracy   ??

    What was your motivation for joining micrsoft ? Would like to know

  183. Cory says:

    Google still doesn't understand who Google+ has failed.

    1. Rigid real names only policy

    2. Rigid non-obscenity policy

    3. RELATEDLY AND MOST OF ALL Fear that breaching a rule on G+ might block one from using their gmail accounts.

    It is as simple as that. People were excited and pissed off at Facebook, and Google+ borked the launch by scaring the *** out of people.

  184. Ark says:

    These grapes…they're sour

  185. Jack Fleming says:

    Everything happens for a reason! You know this, your smart. Doors open and close in life so cherish the good memories of any experience. Life is too short for regrets! Great post!

  186. Gareth Williams says:

    I'm curious how old your daughter is, because her comment on "social is not a product" is very prescient.

  187. Wintermute says:

    How can it be a surprise to anyone that Google is a AD company. "Do more evil"

  188. Brad Bastow says:

    Now, if MSFT could only get Nathan Myhrvold back…  

  189. jrock says:

    " http://www.facebook.com/nike, a company with the power and clout of Nike putting their own brand after Facebook’s? No company has ever done that for Google and Google took it personally."

    killer insight.  never thought of facebook in that manner.  

  190. James says:

    So you think Microsoft is any better?

  191. Andy says:

    Your daughter sounds brilliant. Or is teenager the new brilliant?

  192. Jaseem Abid says:

    Ok, you left Google. But for MS? The most evil company in the world?

  193. WGN says:

    Yes…one day back in the 60's Walmart was a small Arkansas start-up department store…growth, progress, innovation…all come with a "price" we some day hate to pay.

  194. Josh reardon says:

    ok, But why Microsoft?!

  195. Eric says:

    Well, Microsoft has also transformed into a top down organization in the last couple years as part of Sinofsky consolidation and reorganizing to compete with Apple. Engineers are not the innovators anymore- we are just the construction engineers responsible for building what the PMs and designers tell us to build.

  196. Karl Gilbert says:

    I don't get it – This is the second blog I've seen today (Goldman Sachs) about a person leaving a huge, ever-changing & developing, successful company and then publicly slagging it off for personal and emotional reasons, because they feel like they no longer fit in. All companies change all the time. These individuals have made more money than they can spend, and now want to be seen as 'nice'.

  197. Jess Vigden says:

    Interesting post – makes sense you left if you didn't agree with Google.

    It does seem you (or someone) put a very MicroSoft spin on this post.  Example: seeing ads in your email creeps you out? A technologist should understand there is no reason to be creeped out. And "learning as much about personal lives as possible" is the perverse assumption to providing more accurate search results.

    I hope your post was based in fact prior to have the MS spin put on it.

  198. Excellent Post

    One Bothering thing about the Comments, "Why MicroSoft ..? , MicroSoft Lacks Creativity ..!!!? " . This is unbelievable man. (Probably those Posts are from Windows Machines). MicroSoft is a real Technology Giant. It Simplified the Computer Era, If it has been Linux only, There won't be a Desktop or Laptop in Most Homes. Windows Gave the GUI Desktop to the world, to access each and every settings in your Desktop, unlike linux you need Commands to do it. Personally , i m using Linux ,(Cent OS) at work & Ubuntu at my Home and i'm a big fan of Linux too. But i won't say that Windows is bad and no one can.

  199. John Nance says:

    "Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn’t invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation." That's awesome!

  200. Matthew says:

    They shut down google labs!? Google is now longer the innovative paradise it used to be!? Awww man…. that sucks….

  201. Silly.. says:

    All the comments about microsoft as a sunkin ship… This is part of googles issue. Not seeing things they way they "REALLY" are, as opposed to what one wants. or bending things to fit into ones little bubble. Theres no such thing as a buried microsoft. its not economically possible… not to mention that the GLOBE relies heavily on microsoft services, operating systems and techknowledgies.. Just cause your not looking doesn not at all equate to a corperate giants fall.  

  202. wilner says:

    He does not say that he joined Microsoft. Only this explanation is left on an MSDN Microsoft website.

  203. Andrea says:

    Everyone – turn off the computer and go outside for a walk.

  204. gomez says:

    Google should concentrate on making what they have, search and googlemaps work right. They should splurge… and hire an interface designer to fix the interface on googlemaps.

  205. Michael Cooney says:

    It's amazing how a company who can go from hero to zero so quickly. I applaud Google for realizing what they missed and going after it.

    The 20% time did have some great products, but too many product make a mess. Steve Jobs advised Larry to cut out most of the products and focus on a few, which worked well for Apple.

  206. Jay says:

    I first noticed google as this free research project search engine started to make all the others atrophy – it was just do good.

    Now they seem like they're too big, and playing catch up in social may help – so many  right people, but they need the next thing: work symbiotically with Apple to make that tablet the real internet at you to

    Fingertips – IMHO, go 2 steps  stone FB, whatever that is!

  207. Lol says:

    Cool story bro

  208. Kepyou says:

    The "-1" thing was epic.

  209. PJ says:

    Thank you for sharing – I had been worried Google was getting like that, and hesitant to interview there, now I won't. Don't worry though – They will either bring back the innovation factory or someone else will. I'm sorry to tell you though, odds are it ain't gonna be Microsoft.

  210. Anne says:

    I love the comment, "This is pretty typical of people who've joined Google and stayed for less than 5 years." So it's typical of 95% of Googlers? I was with Google for more than five years and I agree with every word of this post.

  211. alansky says:

    Advertising is a cancer, eventually eating everything it touches.

  212. ram says:

    This was exactly how I felt that Google has become under Larry Page. I was surprised that the community wasn't discussing more about this . It is becoming more like any other company. Google was supposed to be the ideal shining beacon in the tech world. With Google becoming just another corporate company, I think the tech landscape will become more like that of the network carriers. Neither of the them are good but people adjust to what is available,

  213. Boo Hoo says:

    Take your options, cash out, and never work again.

  214. Mother Google says:

    Don't burn your bridges, son.  There are many one-ways out there, and you need to come back now and then.

  215. Anatoly Kleyman says:

    Microsoft made modern computers accessible to a layperson. This was a precondition to the information revolution we are witnessing.

  216. PRovoke! says:

    dear James, I think Facebook is competitive 'cause is led by a woman – Sheryl Sandberg

    best regards, Natalia Stankiewicz

  217. Stan Campbell says:

    From the mouths of babes.. or at least smart teenagers: "social isn’t a product, social is people and the people are on Facebook."

    When are companies going to realize they're supposed to *serve* the people, not serve the *people* up to corporations.

  218. John says:

    Where was the article "Why I left Microsoft" (the first time)?

    Really shows that at the director level people don't do anything. Just marketing themselves and using influence to make money. Dr. J joined as a test director, but some how left claiming to be a development director.

  219. Evan says:

    You're brave to write about this (and rich enough to leave a high-paying job, I guess). But I have one word for you, for Google, for Facebook, and for anyone else who reads this:


    Actually, I should add three more words:

    Adblock + Element Hiding Helper

    I'm not "much on advertising" either, but that's mainly because I never see it.

  220. Bjorn says:

    +1 for AdBlock

  221. Jerry Machado says:

    Apparently the innovator's dilemma is alive and well.  Even Google doesn't have the clout to change it.

  222. mystrdat says:

    Interesting viewpoint, if not a bit too emotionally biased. With the current state of both services, my case shows a certain line between the two. I go to G+ to read interesting posts and follow interesting people while I go to Facebook to read what my friends and family share – eg. nothing of value really. Facebook is still a teenager dump as it has been years ago.

  223. sanketonly says:

    is it only me or even  you are thinking as to why is this on Microsoft`s blogs???

  224. searchengineman says:

    I think your experience and loss is like every job/or divorce.  You go into life thinking you can change the world and leap tall buildings.  In the end reality is not so pretty. As it dawns on you that big elephant from the circus, has person behind it with a scoop and shovel…and you wonder why he hates the circus now..

    Nobody writes on the tombstone "Wish I spent more time in the office".  Your         other option

  225. Shree says:

    Well, its only ethical to leave if you stop believing in the company and cant sell others on working there.  So you stopped believing in the Ad-funded party (ahem, business model) and decided to leave.  I dont know why this is news.  

    Companies like Facebook and Google, that are built on ads, will feel tremendous pressure from Wall Street to keep revenues growing — this will continue to test the limits of privacy (and do no evil belief).

    Having separate test orgs and Partner level Test is a vestige of the 90s.  It just doesn't make sense to have a separate test team in today's software development process & structure. In that regard, I'm sure you didn't feel respected at Google.  Lets not confuse software processes/development with product management.

  226. Marc Rauch says:

    This is a wonderfully instructive example of a person who works (worked) for a company and has no idea what the company is about or what its strengths were, regardless of how many keynote speeches he may have made on the company’s behalf. In a sense, it's like the reverse of a new CEO brought in to replace the founding team of an innovative company, who also delivers keynote speeches and attends all types of meetings but never really understands what the company does or why.

    Firstly, for anyone to leave Google to work for Microsoft, and then be critical of Google is preposterous. Anything that could be said bad about Google is doubly or triply true about MS. Microsoft is only about revenue. Painting MS as some good guy, altruistic endeavor is ridiculous.

    Secondly, MS would like to be in the same advertising position that Google has been in, and has been working rather feverishly with Yahoo to try and duplicate the whole Adsense program: So all that Whittaker has done is to leave a company that's successful in advertising for one that would like to be successful in advertising.

    Ironically, in the past year since the infamous Panda updates with Google's attempt to be less focused on advertising revenue (ask the folks at Adsense about this) that things have gotten bad and legitimate content providers have been hurt.

    Third, the whole Facebook thing and social media is a joke. The Internet does not need an 'internet' to make it work. Let me give you this analogy: The significance of the push button telephone (landline or mobile) was not that you can create musical tunes by pressing the buttons. That might have been a fascinating detail to adolescents who didn’t know what else they could talk about with their friends, but it was not the reason to abandon rotary dial phones.

    Even if Facebook makes it easier for anyone to post photographs, it doesn't deserve the hype and importance that it gets for this feature. And if anyone seriously thinks that there's value to the "social" aspect of letting unemployed (or under-employed) numbskulls make innocuous, semi-illiterate comments about issues they know nothing about, then they are insane. They might as well be investing in, and trading, tulip bulbs. If you don’t understand this reference just think “pet rocks.”  

    And don't even get me started on the ultimate stupidity "Twitter."

  227. Brian K says:

    Sharing is broken because of copyright

  228. Ben says:

    This was an amazing read. Thank you for sharing

  229. Leslie Miley says:

    I appreciate the press you must be getting right before the launching of your book "How Google Tests Software"

  230. Rob says:

    Thanks for the blog, great insight.

    Forget Microsoft, come and create a smarter planet at IBM.

  231. Sven L. says:

    Wow interesting inside look into Google's strategy. Thank you for posting this.

  232. Max Karlin says:

    Heartfelt. Facebook is about to take a big bite out of (the) Google's revenue stream, Google SHOULD be scared. What business wouldn't re-focus on an existential threat? I'm sorry, but your post sounds like a rant and makes more sense if considered to be part of Microsoft's "Googlelighting" campaign…

    Btw, Orkut was launched before Facebook…

  233. Anonymous old ex-googler says:

    Google+ is an incredibly stupid name – where was the marketing department?  That alone made me not want to use it.  They could have called it Circles and would have been better off.  And, if it was really sharing google wanted, and to compete with and shut down Facebook, they should and could have done one thing: made Google+ absolutely NOT about ads.  That is the thing that creeps people out about Facebook, the complete invasion of privacy.  But then Google+ would have just been offering a service that would offer no value to itself, oh wait, except for destroying its only competitor (myspace doesn't count).  If google had done that – offered a totally private and no-ads based facebook-like place for people to share all their personal stuff without being invaded with ads, they would have shut down facebook and then kept all their other strong ad domination and world control.  Stupid.  I knew Google+ would fail the moment I set eyes on it.

  234. Matt R Hat says:

    Counterintuitive at a glance. But not surprising after all. Thanks for the insight.

  235. Matthew says:


  236. Jatin says:

    Why did you join microsoft? Google Still Rocks.

  237. Peter Kula says:

    Hey, I like your statement about battle between Google+ and Facebook. I also think this was really not the way to go for Google. Innovation is what makes people join your cause, not trying to copy what they already made.

  238. Facebook... says:

    Google had two choices: "Be Google" and do what it does best, and maybe even do what Nike did and put its brand after Facebook, OR compete with the latter. Seriously, who wouldn't try when you're a company as big as Google? They sacrificed a lot, and it was a lost battle when they decided to fight. The end outcome is a weaker Google and a stronger Facebook, as most fights tend to end.

  239. Chris says:

    Very interesting point of view. Looks like I will subscribe to your blog.

  240. Uday Kumar says:

    Criticism without a fix isnt of much help…

  241. Bob says:

    @Anonymous old ex-googler,

    To suggest that creating an ad-free social network to compete with Facebook would somehow allow it to win ignores the facts. The typical user doesn't really care one way or another about ads. Look at magazines and television shows. So, if Google created an ad-free social network, there would have been no place for businesses. It's businesses that continue to drive traffic to Facebook. Every time you see a Nike ad on TV or some other ad that says "Visit us on Facebook", it's also an ad for Facebook.

    So, to try to compete with Facebook by pushing aside companies would just result in a small avid fan-base to try out Google+ for a while, then find out that all the commercials are still telling them to go to Facebook.

    So, for any new social network to supplant Facebook, it will need to embrace companies and, by extension, advertising.

  242. e911miri says:

    This post is really insightful. It also makes me wonder, did u join Google out of your passion for innovation, or because you needed a great career as a software engineer?

  243. jeroen says:

    it's funny that people think that comment # 213 they make is actually stil read

  244. JJ says:

    It all sounded honest and believable until I read you went to Microsoft. Please. Who are you kidding? Yourself. Maybe.

  245. Austadpro says:

    I'm an SEO and I feel forced to use G+. The only other people that are on there are other SEO people I know. And they are filling it with nothing interesting. I can find the same content from FB and Twitter. I like your -1. Nice touch.

    To be honest, I didn't necessarily notice the change in Google until you pointed it out. I mean, I felt it, but I never thought about it. I hope they find a way to go back to their old way of thinking and "Do No Evil". I think the method works.

  246. Curious says:

    Thanks for writing this – nice post.

    I'd like to know though, were any objects (like chairs) thrown @ Google? 🙂

  247. -1000 says:

    You are a boss with the right mind set. Google has it all backwards, thanks for the share.

  248. Keith Watanabe says:

    they're just like any company that gets big. you end up losing visibility into things, believe that you require the middle management layer to coordinate, then start getting into the battlegrounds of turf wars because the people hired have hidden agendas and start bringing in their army of yes men to take control as they attempt to climb up the corporate ladder. however, the large war chest accumulated and the dominance in a market make such a company believe in their own invulnerability. but that's when you're the most vulnerable because you get sloppy, forget to stop and see the small things that slip through the cracks, forget your roots and lose your way and soul. humility is really your only constant savior.

    btw, more than likely Facebook will become the same way. And any other companies who grow big. People tend to forget about the days they were struggling and start focusing on why they are so great. You lose that hunger, that desire to do better because you don't have to worry about eating pinches of salt on a few nibbles of rice. This is how civilization just is. If you want to move beyond that, humans need to change this structure of massive growth -> vanity -> decadence -> back to poverty.

  249. ChuckOp says:

    Well written.  During my time at MSFT I saw plenty of people go over to Google but I detest advertising as a career choice for myself, so I never went.

    Ultimately the money provides the motivation.  Newspapers, magazines, TV news have all be manipulated by chasing after the advertising dollar.  In hindsight, no one should have expected Google to be any different.

  250. JS says:

    This is a pretty professional 'exit letter' and, well, nicely done.  Life is short, get this off your chest and move forward.  Yea, Google+ is an epic fail.  But I still don't really get Facebook.  

  251. Joe says:

    I like Google+ because it is easier to find people to connect with with your own similar interests than Facebook.  The problem I have with the Facebook is that I feel like I waist time on a foundation built for kids instead of adults who are looking for more than an electronic high school year book. Now I have friends who are really good photographers, scientists, and musicians; before I had the same old stoner friends that I shouldn't have met in the first place.  I hope Google+ does not go away.

  252. Rinat Yangurazov says:

    I was quite bit a surprise to see you leaving. I have attended one of the "Google Test Automation Conferences" few months back and never thought to see this happen. Good luck in your new endowed!

  253. Pincus says:

    And you left them to join the innovative culture of … Microsoft?!??? Ever bothered to check with any of your new co-workers dude?

  254. Maverick says:

    The problem with Google is it tried to hire too many Microsoft employees. That's when the innovation ends.

  255. Martin says:

    I believe 'old Google' made money on its fast entry into the web ad market. Several expensive keywords like 'insurance' etc make most of its revenue. The technology friendly company was maybe only a fad during their boom time. It seems to be over, although who knows if Facebook can really capitalize on its users.

    With Google, now comes the test of the 'don't be evil' part. It's easy to be nice when your business is growing in tens of percents.

    That's my rant, sorry:)

    Thanks for sharing!

  256. kk says:

    I think the founders said quite a long time ago Google is an advertising company

  257. Rockybuddy says:

    This about face of Google reminds me of when Microsoft fot Internet religion way back when.  Will Google succeed?  Is social a product?  Perhaps, but it is yet to be seen.  Facebook also displays goofy ads just like Google.  If one of your friends goes to France suddenly you are shown travel companies for trips to France. If you go to a basketball game and mention it in a post you are shown the NBA store with all its trappings.  Worse yet if you live in Chicago you are shown ads for cabinet makers in New York or real estate in AZ.  Even worse than that – someone has paid to show you that moronic ad and is out some money with Facebook laughing all the way to its IPO.  I have yet to click on an ad and probably never will. James I hear ya and wish you the best.

  258. Darius Molark says:

    I really liked your article. I, too, don't like being tracked and things thrown at. But we will find it difficult to separate from the 'buy this, buy that' world. Consumption of the needless is, like TV, what our digital world is all about.

  259. hmmm says:

    All valid points and I agree with just about everything you said BUT why on earth join Microsoft?? Talk about lack of innovation…

  260. Wow! says:

    Jesus Christ.. i had no idea.. So many people asking why JW joined Msft. ! Dude.. its the next best thing. Read this:




    and 100 other such articles..  this is the new Kid in town baby 🙂 !

    Come join the party !!

  261. tr says:

    To those who are asking "Why Microsoft of all places??? MS doesn't innovate!", this is entirely false. Just because you don't see all ideas materialize or thrown ad-hoc on the web doesn't mean there's no innovation…there are LOTS that never saw the daylight, and there are LOTS that will. Even if you look at the products that shipped and are in wide use, there are innovations. You might refuse to acknowledge it, it might even anger you to admit it, but that's your personal opinion, not facts.

    Then there are other reasons for him to enjoy his work here, all the fun stuff Google used to produce are clearly gone/failed/faded away, so fun is it to work on tweaking searches and peeping on people's behavior to serve ads…not much considering that consumer privacy is a big deal now. Also, MS has Bing and many other cooler technologies with room to grow both on mobile and non-mobile devices.

    To those who claim "MS ship has sunk", well, obviously you're not informed about the financial numbers. Yes, PC sales has slowed down, yes because of that sales of Windows and Office dipped more than MS would have liked, but only a fool would be taking this lightly; and MS is not built upon fools. When the ecosystem/landscape changes even a big company has to reinvent. That reinvention started a few years ago…the cycle of growth and reinvention begun. They're past the growing pains and off to growth again. Even if they didn't have the perfect recipe and all new strategies and products failed (extremely unlikely!), MS is too strong and too solid to be sinking, because it's not built on fads.

  262. Carmen says:

    It is amusing how many people who don't work at Microsoft seem to think they understand exactly what it is like to work here.  "I read it on the Interwebz, so it must be true!" syndrome at its best/worst.

  263. Robin Lloyd-Miller says:

    as an avid Google fan for years; this is everything I have been feeling myself; hit straight on the head. I've begun to leave Google products for this very reason; personalization is creepy, and taking ideas from a website infamous for creeping on people is the last thing I'd hoped it would do; yet thought it might.

  264. Sonia Lenzi says:

    I recently deleted my FB account because of all the privacy issues and I didn't like the idea of my information being sold and shared.  I think FB is loosing its appeal and just turning into an "Ad" feeding machine….and I decided not to be part of it any longer.  I also don't have a gmail account.  Like you, I think its creepy as well to have ads pushed at you based on what you write, "like", or share.  There's probably really no way to get away from it all as long as you surf the internet, but if I can maintain some control over my personal life and privacy, then I will do what I can to protect it.  It sounds like you made a smart move.  

  265. Anonymous says:

    I worked in Microsoft's Online Division years ago. I could have written most of what you have written by simply replacing company names and product names. The only difference is that 20% never existed at Microsoft.

    Microsoft's OSD focused heavily on advertising too, which eventually maimed it. Then the advertising behemoth within OSD made stupid acquisitions and stupid top management hires from Yahoo. Together, these pushed OSD into the abyss, but some people got fantastic review scores regardless.

    That makes me wonder, why the hell did you return to Microsoft? You could have gone to any number of innovative companies or started your own.

    Now you have to play the same game at Microsoft as you had to at Google – pretend that you love the mind-numbing political visibility game to get those review scores (now reversed 1 is good and 5 is bad).

    How is your life any better at Microsoft? Something's amiss – you get more money, you were a double-agent, you don't care anymore, …

  266. jsled says:

    "As it turned out, sharing was not broken. Sharing was working fine and dandy, Google just wasn’t part of it."  … except on Reader, which was ruined by shoe-horning such social sharing into G+.  I'm sure the way the demographics pan out, some super-small fraction of Reader users were part of the super-small fraction of heavily-sharing Reader users, though.

  267. why why says:

    and Microsoft is such a powerhouse of innovation.

    Tell the truth James, either you got fired.. or Microsoft offered you a lot more cash. because the truth certainly isn't about innovation.

  268. Mark says:

    What's Google+?

    Just kidding.  I had quite a few people invite me to Google+ but what can I say, I like Facebook.  I like the analogy of good tv show gets more commercial revenue.  Agree completely.

  269. Google Lover says:

    How much did you get paid by Microsoft to write this up ? Few millions? Are Microsoft so scared of Google Docs , Gmail , Android to name a few?

  270. Jo says:

    Sorry to ask, Mr. Whittaker, but I never noticed any ads on either Facebook or any of the Google services. What are these ads that you speak of?

    ….oh, yeah. AdBlockPlus. What's an ad?

  271. Ash says:

    I agree with pretty much every little thing on your blog post .. but microsoft ? 🙂  Thats a company that refuses to accept, very much like google did, that you missed a few busses. Worse still, they have always trashed innovation if it came from any one but them.

  272. Manj says:

    So Sad for Google, you joined on 2009 and the company started sinking and coming to Microsoft, you left MS giving VISTA as gift and again you are back… Only GOD can Save MS.

  273. CC says:

    So what difference did you make at Google?

  274. Raj says:

    Thank you for the great post. I worked for WinSE sometime back(2005-2008 as consultant) and we had learned a lot from you in past.

    I am not here to bash any company, but i agree with your view-points and hope that Google will also read msdn blog and might take it seriously. As for MS, they would be all happy to have you back.

    Cheers 🙂

  275. Chris Z says:

    I remember when Digex went poof like this, it was when I had to pick up my DecSystem20/20 from the trash dock because the dream of restoring it and running classic technology as a good thing went out the window to "profits".

    Such is life. I'm sorry it finally happened to Google, but such is life.

  276. Bro says:

    This article sucks. Especially compared to the NYT quitting GS article.

  277. digity says:

    i work at google and its a dream job. Google creates more value that it captures. Can't say the same about microsoft.

  278. David Feng says:

    Would definitely +1 and share this on Google plus if I could

  279. Ashwin says:

    True that. Google seems more or less desperate these days to compete with facebook. It's not 'cool' like it used to be

  280. Chamlia Ranasinghe says:

    If is difficult to adopt to situation, better change yourself rather than sticking.

  281. Preeti S says:

    It makes an interesting reading.. Do you mind if we carry this blog on our website? Do let us know if we can reproduce it. I feel the world should know the chaging ways of Google…

    Let me know

    Preeti (preetpatil@gmail.com)

    Associate Editor

    ciol.com, CyberMedia Group

    Bangalore, India

    Phone : 91-9945212057

  282. Google says:

    I tried searching for this article on Google and it did not show-up as the search result. There was an ad for Mircosoft though 🙂

  283. Ronnie says:

    Thanks for sharing. Great article.

    Would like to know what made you join back Microsoft?

  284. Simon says:

    Google changing gears……

  285. Drone says:

    The same complaints and rants could be said of Windows Live. Someone needs to have mercy upon those employees and just kill the division.

  286. Raf says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience James. Hopefully, it will lead to improvements in the corporate culture at Google.

    Wishing you all the best at Microsoft. I am sure you will help make it a better place.

    (And seriously people, who still says "M$"?? They are just companies: Microsoft and Google, they change over time, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, and sometimes both).

  287. Another Ex-Googler says:

    I agree wholeheartedly that something fundamentally changed at Google over the past year or so. It was disappointing. And it was hard for me to leave as well – there are large numbers of amazing people to work with and I have some wonderful memories. I'll keep my memories and my founder's award but I have to admit that I'm much happier outside of google than in it.

    Good luck with your latest endeavor!  

  288. Mitesh Thakkar says:

    I appreciate your honesty.

    Two questions are coming in mind,

    1. Is Microsoft is not a completely commercially focused company?

    2. Has New Google not enough space for innovation?

  289. Nitin says:

    Microsoft is better than Google??? Oh the pay, you mean.. 🙂

  290. Cat says:

    Microsoft and Google have the same problem – the public cannot get a hold of anyone at either company if having a problem with their software or homepage, respectively.  They are both unreachable and inaccessible to the average Joe, so you just traded one bad job for another.

  291. Vaidy Mohan says:

    "Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn’t invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation. The fact that no one came to Google’s party became the elephant in the room."

    That summed it all for me.

  292. Sirius Black says:

    I'm rather disappointed that your main concern was that Google is not succeeding as well as Facebook is in conducting surveillance of the general public on behalf of the NSA.

  293. Sirius Black says:

    Oops. maybe my last comment was too harsh. Anyway I refuse to go anywhere near Google OR Facebook if I can help it.

  294. Rajagopal says:

    So, you left Google to join Microsoft the innovation engine that foster entrepreneurial culture??

  295. Anon... says:

    Facebook is like getting a high on drugs.   It is a true fake.  Google has so many pros when compared to Facebook.  You just don't ditch your wife/girlfriend because of 1 misunderstanding.  (Maybe ego was involved between you and the Google corporate team).  To succeed, you don't join the rat race.  You stay alone and fight like how Apple did when it was all but dead few years back. …and Microsoft bashing is not good too.   They made the computer personal and accessible to everyone, including in 3rd world countries.  India is an IT superpower only because of Microsoft (& Intel) and nothing else.  Each have their day under the sun. Bring the Google innovation spirit to Microsoft.

  296. Cool says:

    Yes you know very well, google knows when its best to call your mother.

  297. Mani says:

    This is what I thought about google recently

  298. Jenny Simpson says:

    Extraordinarily good article, thank you.  I've recently walked away from a well-paid agency job to go freelance and can very much identify with your description of the corporate mentality.

    Good luck with wherever the future takes you.!

  299. Laxator2 says:

    Very good post, the rich kid throwing his own party analogy is the best anyone can find. Google should never use its own brand name when it comes to social, as people always associate this name with search. The go-to nerd that always gets you the information you need when you are in trouble. The safe choice under pressure. Their chance was to get behind the Diaspora project when it made the headlines, staying invisible, and helping them with resources when Facebook was getting all the negative press. Too bad the opportunity has passed.

  300. moot says:

    First I've heard of it

  301. Adith Widya Pradipta says:

    You're honest! There's no such a honest man in my Country like you. Thanks for inspiring

  302. frank says:

    This was linked on the front page of cnn.com

    I read this blog post and and all I saw were a lot of words to explain that you job hopped, became unhappy the grass wasn't greener, then jumped back.

    Welcome to corporate America.

  303. Jay says:

    If you really want to do what you like then you have to start your company, leave or put up.  I worked at Bell Labs that died because the management did not want to change the culture to respond to the market and competition.

    You have to give some credit to not make the same mistake.  

  304. ECT says:

    Google maps, win. Google corporate maps, fail. Where do we want to send you today?

  305. jledezma says:

    not agree. Dont fear the "cambios".

  306. BlackTiger says:

    Absolutely true. Never liked G-products.

  307. Jamez Martinez says:

    What an article! Right to the point.. Google has changed and everybody can tell. The amazing fact that nobody dares say is that the SERPS are bad.. guys everybody knows it. Google should bite the bullet and do what a grown up company has to do when they get it wrong.. Go back to where you were two years ago Google and focus on …"the good TV programs" Your so right… the content was great and new and exciting.. so the ad revenue was the by-product..  wake up.. 0-12 years 0 – how many billion?? its as easy to back to 0.. many many IT companies loose the plot and loose everything.. by-enteprenualisim is FUN

  308. Anil says:

    Loved views on Google, especially this " Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn’t invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation. The fact that no one came to Google’s party became the elephant in the room."

  309. bert says:

    like taking Picknick away from Picasa and "upgrading" Picasa with some of the lamest features from Picknick. If they would have only kept a decent cropping tool…..

    I am watching the stock price like a hawk!!!


  310. Mario says:

    100% agree. I dont use google anymore, they dont have the right of tracking me. I dont use google, chrome and gmail anymore. There are search websites (duckduckgo.com) that respects your privacy and dont spies on you, this is what I am using now.

  311. grow up says:

    You had the privilege of working for one of the great powers in the consumer internet space.  You either failed, had buyers remorse, or both.  Don't bash the company that paid your bills for 3 years.  You come off as being very petty and extremely self-absorbed.  Focus on the future and don't bite the hand that fed you.

  312. Tim says:

    It's sort of hard to get a job at a company that isn't in it for the money because they would have no employees. Google had without a doubt lost some of its focus with poorer quality products but rarely do you find people working at a corporation, with stockholders to answer to, happy for a long time.

  313. tec-goblin says:

    "They've got to be the one of the least creative places of all the big tech Co's." ?

    Kinect? Metro UI? the await keyword? Columnstore indexes? Azure? Have you checked their APIs? OData? (just some of the most recent things). Have you checked MS' R&D expenses?

    But I think James is better positioned to explain.

  314. Nancy Scott says:

    Your post wraps up so much that's frightening: the irresistible allure of money and power, the reduction of people to data, the collapse of ideals, the substitution of "social media" for in-person contact, the lost frontiers of the maverick World Wide Web — or so it seems. Thank you for standing up.

  315. Google Plus is for old men and Google employees says:

    Google Plus is one of those places where you feel everything is plastic and totally not for real. I think that in order for it to succeed it will need a very young person like Zuck Dawg to totally control it. Young people are the future and Google seems to be really old and stale right now.

  316. Giovanni Costagliola says:

    So? You came to Microsoft to integrate Facebook?…

  317. Charlie Hice says:

    Extremely interesting, will read over/over today!

    As a great-grandfather, it seems to me that social media is fantastic. But, companies are looking at "greed" instead of leading young people to their dreams.

    Facebook is good for those who want to keep up with families/friends. As an older person, not sure…about FB.

    Who is releasing the "spark" to ignite the fire– to minds of younger generation?

  318. D says:

    What?? Google had an important product and tried to make you do WORK?? For shame!!

  319. Alex says:

    Man, I love this one: "When Gmail displays ads based on things I type into my email message it creeps me out." – that's exactly what I've keep telling people!!! What Gmail does is bad, it IS creepy!!!

  320. Mantius Cazaubon says:

    Thanks for sharing. Great post.

  321. Joel B. says:

    Google is putting YouTube at jeapordy with its forced channel design change that has gotten wall to wall condemnation from channel owners, the very people who made YouTube into what it is today. Please check out my two CNN ireports in Tech talk regarding this issue. I would greatly appreciate it if you could get those two letters exposure in anyway possible. Thank you.

  322. Frank Fuchs says:

    If you were truly concerned about altruism, you would chosen to work for a Non Profit.  I here Kahn Academy is doing great things.  By the way, how much bonus money did you get for writing this blog?

  323. Hans says:

    This resonates strongly. I feel Google broke itself in trying to reinvent itself. I no longer gleefully use Google to find out impossibly precise details about anything I care to know about; the algorithms no longer work on that level. I just use Google because I can't find any better search engine (yet).

  324. Amit Patil says:

    After Google+ and Single sign-on I've moved to Firefox and stopped using Picasa.

    BTW thank you for sharing a very insightful decision.

  325. Cameron Bonde says:

    Wave was GOING to be brilliant and change the way the web worked. Instead of everything run by private companies (!?). It wasn't even half done when they killed it (eg the UI was terrible). It's as simple as that. It's like looking at the wheel and saying it's stupid and declaring it a failure because no-one could figure out what it was good for.

  326. Zola's Pen says:

    Wanting to be humanized is the highest goal one can attain. It is like the Velveteen Rabbit being loved until all his fur is gone. Does anyone remember the movie the "Elephant Man"? The scene where he on a train platform yelling at staring gaukers, "I AM A HUMAN BEING!" Stay centered and focus on your human side,James. Your family and friends will honor it.

  327. Cameron Bonde says:

    Wave is still being worked on btw. It's now 'Apache wave'. Here's a test server http://waveinabox.net/

  328. Brian Bell says:

    Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!


  329. Anon says:

    Move in the right direction?

    Google+ < Facebook

    Bing < Google

    Windows Phone < Android and iOS

    AdSense < AdWords

  330. Anon says:

    This perceived shift of focus happens at every company when you go from being an idealistic student to becoming an adult that has to pay the bills. When you reach such a large scale with so much at stake, it is easy to stop innovating. It is easy to get a mix of people who don't share the same vision when you have to hire on a lot of staff. Stock prices put an emphasis on perpetual monetization. Let's keep in mind that Facebook only recently IPO'd and in the debate for personal privacy, all the players are potentially "evil" and none of them are being held to account by any public policy.

    The shutdown of Google Labs was a sad day. Later the shutdown of Google Health I thought was also sad as it was an example of a free service already in existence, akin to what Ontario has wasted over $1 billion on for E-Health. Surely these closures are a sign that the intellectual capital in the founders has been exhausted. They took their core competencies to the maximum level quickly, which means all the organic growth in those areas is mostly already realized.

    There needs to be some torch passing or greater empowerment in the lower ranks when things like this happen. Take a look at RIM. Take a look at many other workplaces. It isn't an isolated incident. There are constantly pressures between where you think your business should go, where investors tell you to go, and where the industry itself is actually headed. This guy is apparently very troubled that his name is attached to G+ development and he is trying to distance himself from his own failure. Probably the absence of Google Labs puts a particular emphasis on the failure of G+ as one of the only new service projects to be delivered recently.

    After so much time any company realizes that new ideas can only really come with new people or from outside influences. As an attempt to grow their business services via advertising, the idea that they needed to compete with Facebook to continue to grow wasn't entirely wrong. It was just poorly executed, too late, and at the expense of potentially focusing their efforts on doing something else under Google Labs that would have been more known as from them (Android was an acquisition, not organically grown internally). There is no revolution yet, because Facebook and Google have not replaced any of each others services with a better alternative.

  331. Anon says:

    The complaints in the final paragraph of the blog regarding privacy are all complaints about how much Google wants to be Facebook. Thing is that Google+ just like all the aforementioned services are opt-in services with a clear ToS declared when you do so, even if you already have a Google account for other services. The transparency of their privacy policy is on par if not better than most other competing service providers. The only time it draws criticism is when some changes have been made to say that if you use multiple services, they may have access to the same pool of information internally. It's a contract and it was forced to be acknowledged when it changed. When advertising does happen it is much more obvious to me that it is advertising via a Google service, than when Facebook decides to tell me who likes what. Not to give either the green light here; but the evolution is one of integrating your network into the suggestions, and again, it isn't isolated to any one agency.

    One way to raise and enforce objections to potential mishandling of information is to develop a blanket minimum-requirement on privacy policy to apply to all businesses, regarding the handling of customer information. We are blind if we think Google+ and Facebook are the only businesses using data in these ways. This blanket minimum requirement could be voluntarily adopted via 3rd party certification, or it could be  government enforced; but the point is that someone other than the business itself would formulate it, and it must be openly available to debate and public scrutiny/revision. It is a sort of "User License Agreement" for information about us. If James Whittaker left to partake in something along these lines, it sure would make his blog entry more credible, unless Microsoft is focused so much more greatly on innovation than the profit motive.

  332. Anon says:

    It is also important for customers and the general public not to get locked into any kind of brand loyalty. One problem is Facebook is a closed proprietary system with no way to forward or export the data contained within it to any comparable system. Google is a mish-mash of some open and some closed systems. In order for us as customers to be able to voice our opinions in a way that such service providers would hear, we must be provided alternatives and service portability.

    As an example of changing service providers, there has been an exodus of business customers away from using Google Maps as they began charging money to businesses that want to use the data to develop on top of it. I think that this is just the reality of a situation when you have operating costs for a service that you need to recoup; but there is a royalty-free alternative like Open Street Map (which Apple has recently ripped off by using Open Street Map data without attribution).

    Google won't see the same meteoric growth ever again. It probably is a less fun place for a social media development staffer to work at from 2010 to present, than it was from 2004  – 2010 (but I'm betting still preferable to FoxConn or anything anywhere near Balmer).

  333. Kennon Keoseyan says:

    If you had left Google for anywhere other than MS your reasons would be admirable. Considering where you landed though, your blog post seems like a cover story.

  334. dashesy says:

    Interesting, it could also explains the sudden rush to the invasive and buggy "Google instant". As a user I switched to DuckDuckGo for the clean interface and later became a fan for its true respect for privacy. Apparently many people feel the same (duckduckgo.com/traffic.html).

  335. The Remnant says:

    I've never worked at Google – but I shared your passion for it.

    When they first came on the scene I thought they were the most awesome company to ever hit the internet.  Loved the innovation, the free spirit, openness – it's like America used to be.  In less than 200 years went from an ox and plow to $500,000 combines with 30' wide blades that reap a harvest in a couple of hours.  In less than 10 years we went from the ability to save a few kilobytes on a beasty machine to saving terabytes on a gadget that will fit in your hand.

    Our computers, that once occupied our entire desk, with modems and holes drilled through walls to get lines in so you could sit for hours dialing and dialing – waiting for that awesome sound of the computers communicating and FINALLY connecting!  Now I have my cell phone sitting beside of me – tethered to my laptop computer.   No desk, no wires – the signal just falls from the air.  Life is good!! (Which is the phone brand – how convenient.)

    In the last year I started getting an uncomfortable feeling about Google.  The openness and freedom seemed to be waning and it seemed to be morphing into something more akin to Big Brother.  Too, I was really unhappy to find out how easily they handed over email accounts to the government.

    Then, this year – with all of their changes – you're wondering if they have, since they're "partners" with them, the Department of Homeland Security occupying their facilities, perusing our private emails, ready to "snitch" on everyone?  That, rather than the free spirited innovators who brought their iguana's to work?

    Thank you for sharing your story.  It's good to know.  I'll pass it around.

    I'm sure I'm one of many who are no longer happy with the direction Google is going.  I watched Prodigy fatally shoot itself and hotmail is now nothing other than a haven for newbie hackers to practice sending out mass viruses.  Many who thought they were unbeatable, like Rome. . .well. . .

    The internet is pretty finicky – if you lose the peoples trust – it's lost forever.  Apparently Google has chosen their course. Their deluded thinking is that they're impervious to serious competition.  So did the aforementioned companies. *FATAL ERROR*

  336. inane says:

    it's all vapor

  337. The Remnant says:

    Uhm. . .my bad, but I just noticed – you're working for MS?  

    Not surprisingly, Microsoft is a Department of Homeland Security "Partner", too – along with Google.

    Why did you go over to them?  Like they've suddenly become open and free spirited?  They're the most hackable out there.

    Dude, that's gross.  Get a real job – with real people.  Money isn't everything – principle should take precedence.

  338. Anonymous Coward says:

    Reading the comments on this blog post really shows how immature the citizens of the Internet are these days. I wish you best of luck with your work at Microsoft.

  339. Edward Chan says:

    James, how much freedom do you have in Microsoft? How much 'free' time do you have to innovate?

  340. aa says:

    From Titanic to another old pirate boat?

  341. Mr. A says:

    Ok. Great. Cool.

    Just a quick question – why you left Miscrosoft in the first place? And why are you back?

  342. Lauren says:

    Great story! Any chance you are looking for a new gig? Check out http://www.boounce.com. Users are growing by the thousands everyday.  

  343. John Kirker says:

    Is it just evolution?  We do it as people and it happens in business.  They say grow or die.  So if we aren't growing, we are perceived as dying.  Google was and still may be the best at search – but the results are muddied with the push of information rather than the pull.  Back to grow or die and perception, investors want to see growth and expansion so that their dollars can be multiplied.  And the borg (previously microsoft, now google) has done this well.  But they have to go back to their roots and be what they are – a search engine – and be really great at it.  We do this as people too, perhaps it's human nature – we become bored with what we are innately good at because what comes natural to us doesn't seem challenging – and many of us thrive on challenge.  So just like our human spirit forces us to do things that we "want" to do to evolve – even at our own expense – we try to become more, to do more and to be an expert at that which we are not.  The downside is that it often doesn't work – because even though the gymnast has a 3' vertical leap, at 4'6 she still will "likely" never be able dunk the ball.

  344. Soul says:

    the decisions by Google to close labs and like is very disheartening. However, I'm not sure if Microsoft is known for openness and innovative culture. "…the company I left was … a company with single corporate-focused mandate", please help us understand how Microsoft is any better, if not worse.

    The argument about the reason you left Google would hold water, if you then joined a company that had the culture that was lacking at Google…

  345. David Tingley says:

    Thank you for sharing James.

    I think your daughter hit the nail on the head.

    people… not products…..

  346. Vlad Patryshev says:

    Well Google has always been antisocial. Looking down at the dumb world outside the campus, why would they care what they want? Google knows better what they need. Big Brother mentality.

    And regarding the spirit, it was lost, I believe around the beginning of 2008. I remember the days when the motto was "no deadlines, the product is ready when it is ready". It's gone. Well, but it did exist, and thanks for all the fish.

  347. amdFreak says:

    Microsoft must pay a pretty penny to speak against Google 🙂

  348. Arjun says:

    Gesher: Brilliant take. Even I do not know how to share anything on Google+. The number of people who go around in circles and make me go around in them also confuse me, so I don't know who I am sharing what with. LOL.

    Thanks for the brilliant insight, James. The first thing we must learn to be, is to be true to ourselves. Once we do that, the world will become a better place.

  349. Why is Former Google exec James Whittaker – now at Microsoft wrong? What happened? Whittaker claims an increased focus on ad dollars as well as a delayed effort to compete against Facebook, caused him to lose his passion. It is interesting that a middle aged man suffering from a lack of passion identifies directed advertising as one of its causes. This sort of existential malaise that affects many men as they reach Mr. Whittaker’s age was formerly attributed to a dowdy wife, hormone imbalances or a plateau in one’s career.  I suppose it’s a

    testament to the growing power of social media that it has acquired these aphrodisiac properties?  Putting aside Mr. Whittaker’s state of mind, I will address his critique of Google’s strategic choices.

    Firstly, advertising. It’s clear that Mr. Whittaker has an impoverished understanding of Advertising’s importance beyond its fiscal effects.  Google’s principle focus has never been technology. It‘s initial focus was and remains information.  Google of course was not the first to recognize the growing importance of information.  They have however, demonstrated an unequaled ability to aggregate, organize and leverage information. Modern society has been profoundly affected by advertising. It has been the principal driver of information and the technology that Mr. Whittaker so cherishes.  Advertising is social media! What we refer to as social media originated in advertisings ability to shape, inform, and connect disparate groups through an interactive dialogue.  Facebook represents an evolution of this dialogue.

    Google is quite right in remaining agnostic about modalities and in refusing to miss the forest for the trees. Rather than seeing Google Plus as a feeble effort to emulate Facebook, it should instead be viewed as the beginning of the aggregation of the various modalities represented by Google’s products. When

    online, people are for the most part, either interested in consuming, producing or exchanging information. In 2012 what are the principal modalities of this exchange?  Are they search, email and video? I wonder who the dominant player in this tripartite is?

    I’m happy for Mr. Whittaker that he has rediscovered his mojo at Microsoft. I however will put my money on Google. Rather than a blast of fresh air providing an insider’s view of a stumbling tech giant, Mr. Whittaker’s comments should be viewed for what they are,  a personal memoir.

  350. miele bauknecht says:

    posted on a microsoft blog. probably microsoft FUD

  351. Courtney Wigley says:

    Very interesting. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  352. anonymous says:

    Why did you not work harder on changing what was broken?

  353. Ex-softie says:

    Everything you're talking about here works for most of the orgs in MSFT with very few changes. You have a non-technical salesman and a culture of politics and cronyism continuing to make MSFT less and less relevant, aggressively tanking the stock price along the way.

    I am eagerly awaiting a similar post from you about 2 years from now when Ballmer has completed his work of running MSFT into the ground. Unless of course they do the smart thing, kicking Ballmer out and promoting Sinofsky to CEO after Win8 ships.

  354. Mukesh says:

    The day Google chrome asked me to login I left using any google products. I uninstalled every google product from my machine. For Feedback I wrote "google privacy policies suck…" and luckily I have yahoo as my main personal email ID.

  355. I agree with everyone else, after all you've said here, …joining Microsoft is a bit lulzy.

  356. Kerry Rego says:

    "Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn’t invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation." This says it so well. Thank you for sharing.

  357. electroknol says:

    @gesher just go to google plus and paste url in to your g = stream and post it on g +.

    Great Inside story from a ex googler

  358. Sankalp Nanda says:

    one of my most enjoyable reads of recent times downright honest and brilliant!!!

  359. Linda R. Tindall says:

    Thank you for your honest comments Whittaker. And yes, Google is not like it was before..

    It is Scary, Google may destroy anyone online business overnight!

    Google penalize webmasters if they don't like a Website for any reason. They can put out anyone they want out of business. How does Google judge a webmaster's?

    Google’s business isn’t anymore the search engine. Google’s business is selling and displaying ads.

    GOOGLE becomes now the Big Brother of the WWW. I think it is scary that Google has so much power. Just by making changes, they can ruin people’s lives.

  360. Linda R. Tindall says:

    Thank you for your honest comments Mr. Whittaker. And yes, Google is not like it was before..

    It is Scary, Google may destroy anyone online business overnight!

    Google penalize webmasters if they don't like a Website for any reason. They can put out anyone they want out of business. How does Google judge a webmaster's?

    Google’s business isn’t anymore the search engine. Google’s business is selling and displaying ads.

    GOOGLE becomes now the Big Brother of the WWW. I think it is scary that Google has so much power. Just by making changes, they can ruin people’s lives.

  361. Moogle says:

    I knew a woman who had breast cancer (she's better now), and searches for info and support online got her "Buy breast cancer at…" such and such store. Yeah, real barrel of laughs that was for her. (eyeroll) Is that really still happening?

  362. Jesús Aragón Argos says:

    In Microsoft you have 20% of your time for your own ideas too?

  363. NS says:

    I think you're forgetting two things.

    Originally, Google innovated with their users for not being so dependent on ads. But it really is their core business.

    Working at Google should make you realize that Facebook is a real threat for your company. If you didn't want to work at Google+, you should try an idea which is innovative and a competitive action against Facebook.. If Google would lose 50% of their income, the chance is great that a lot of colleagues and you will just lose their job (or someone else). I can understand it's frustrating when you first have a lot of time and open source projects, but some things aren't possible for ever. But their's always a way to get out of it.

    If Google would notice an employee would have created a awesome product outside of Google, the chance is great their going to "re-implement" the free time on open source (fully), employees can have their say you know.

    But nothing is easy and everyone can do whatever they want!

    Still thanks for sharing your opinion though 😉

  364. bert says:

    in short.  Ad revenue is evil.  Regardless of FB / G+ / MSFT.  that evil drives the business.  Google used to let products lead the ads.  Now the tail wags the dog.

  365. James Ward says:

    Could it be that the new policy is simply mitigating against the future in which Facebook becomes our primary destination online (similar to the position Google holds now).

  366. Sunith Babu says:

    I love your ideas, I'm sure one day the world will die in front of google.

  367. Fanboy-Buster says:

    I think people who spend their time hating company "A" or company "B" should get a life. The guy worked at Google, left and he works for MS now. So what? Why don't you all send him money to pay his bills? The fanboism is becoming a new religion and people think they have the right to question other people's personal decisions.

  368. Mike says:

    "The old Google made a fortune on ads because they had good content."  Excellent point.  The new Google tries to be so personalized that it eliminates a lot of great content.  Part of search is exploration.  All the personalization really limits the exploration.  Google has declined a lot in the last few years.  It's a very different experience than it used to be.  

  369. Naveen says:

    Remember that its google who has given you an opportunity to do something in life. You wont achieive anything by ranting over a former employer. Instead you must be grateful that you had an opportunity to work at google, and note that google shall remain on your resume for ever.

  370. bullethead says:

    the entire web has broken.  we will never get it back.  the internet has turned into television.  remember the information superhighway?  it's mass market stores now at our fingertips, oh and share everything you do.

    I am now laying on my side, I just took a dump, I just woke up.

    completely utter nonsense, as the brits would say bloody nonsense.  

  371. Anony Mouse says:

    You were upset at how Google became too corporate and revenue-driven… so you went to go work for Microsoft?

  372. Josh Lee says:

    Weird thought. MIcrosoft????

  373. feech says:

    why on MSDN?

  374. Tom Fawkes says:

    I'm upset you left Google, but from the sound of this, it doesn't seem to be the same company you joined at first, and in that itself you hold your right to leave it behind. Damn glad you joined Microsoft though, I hope to see some innovation spark there 🙂

  375. Facebook is for your grandma and Google+ is bewildering.  Oh, and who the heck doesn't use AdBlock,NoScript, et al?  I haven't seen an ad since the nineties.

  376. Sulabh says:

    Strong feelings liberated well….. each one of us is at a cross-roads sometime or the other……………..

  377. Ivan says:

    thanks. It was really interesting. I've got such kind of feeling that something is not right, anyway

  378. Eric says:

    I think a lot of people are now asking…why Microsoft?

  379. frans says:

    Sound, you failed be promoted….and quit.

  380. fox foobar says:

    "Why I left Google"

    Because the office chairs at MS are soo softer…

  381. mumu says:

    blah blah blah. What you doing in Microsoft? Make open source projects? Employ innovation ideas?

  382. James Davies says:

    Now you work back at Microsoft? Seriously? No corporate mandates there?

  383. civisisus says:

    everyone knows facebook sucks. They just aren't acting like it yet

  384. Jez says:

    "Why Microsoft?" Isn't it obvious? I can think of no greater challenge than resurrecting this dinosaur in today's market. They're finally starting to think out of the box! (excuse the pun) Can't wait to see how Windows 8 and Windows Store fairs. The stuff our W8 dev team is working on is looking great…

  385. Raymond Elliott says:

    +1 for all the details of things that we've usually heard whispers of, but I agree on the anti-microsoft comments. Why not go to somewhere that's still early on the aggressive innovation curve like Groupon or even Ideeli? They seem a lot more hungry and nimble and game-changing than MS.

  386. Ken Smith says:

    seems like you like to quit things…

    "former Googler, former professor and former startup founder"

  387. SiNeh~ says:

    Wow the MONEY still calling you going from Google to MS

  388. Fred says:

    At eurostar you were so proud of yourself firing a lot of testers, because the users could do better, I wish the testers at microsoft best of luck..

    Thnx for your honesty, I never thought you're doing a great job, but your lovely personality makes up for that 🙂

  389. Joe says:

    Hi Larry Page!

  390. Michelle says:

    Rich kid found that he's not invited so build his own party -> sucks.

    Not-so-rich kid found that he's not invited so kinda build his own party too and started bad mouthing the other kids -> awesomeness?

  391. Cliff Hawkes says:

    Thankyou for your much appreciated insight into the motivations behind a real innovator. Unfortunately … welcome to the real world 🙁

    Here in the UK our ‘leaders’ in all walks-of-life have an inimitable propensity to stifle talent and limit any rewards to the upper echelons in power. I have seen it before and see it now – when the bean-counters and lawyers take over a business, it’s a good sign to jump-ship (though I also agree that Microsoft would not be my next best choice).

    I must be a complete anachronism as advertising leaves me totally cold (unless very wittily humorous) and hasn’t ever enticed me to buy a product just on the back of an ad alone – the invasiveness of web advertising is frustrating and make me use it less rather than more!

    As for ‘Social’ Networking and ‘Interactive’ TV, the people who coin such phrases might at least try to use a dictionary first (not much evidence of companionship or collaboration!). Luckily I am not one of the lemmings who feels the need to roll over submissively, supine to the latest ‘in’ trend but neither do I want to be a trend setter, so I hope that you don’t mind that I won’t be following you on twitter.

  392. Ken H says:

    Awesome article.  And I am left wondering, what will ultimately replace facebook?  It is inevitable in this post-technology age and I wait on baited breath to see what the next online wonderkint will be!



  393. Yagzud says:

    Agree 100%

  394. Jennifer T says:

    I also left Google, after 7 years, and 100% agree with your post.  In the last 3 years their culture has done an about-face and is more evil than not.  

  395. Alex says:

    Does G+ vs. Facebook remind anyone else of IE vs. Netscape?

  396. Duff says:

    Not too surprising, but I appreciate the inside scoop.

  397. Sahil says:

    Nice article.

    You have expressed it nicely, however just like many others even i have the same query, what made you join MS ahead of startup's or probably a company of your own. So i assume it's not only about innovation, it's the assured $$$ you'll get along with it. I completely agree with your technical insight of things and appreciate the way you have expressed yourself…

  398. Wendy Bradley says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this letter.  THANK YOU!  

    haha… Hope it goes Viral on Google+ and Facebook!  …And may those in the C-rooms LISTEN and LEARN!  I too MISS the old Google, and have been trying to figure out if I should jump to Yahoo as my search engine.  Wanting my SEARCH engine to allow me to have full control… and to NOT CHOOSE for me!  Thanks, James Whittaker!  Keep up the good work.  Wish you were on your way to Apple!

  399. Melissa says:

    I just saw a commercial on TV for Microsoft Internet Explorer the other day….. HUH?

  400. Steve says:

    Two words come to mind.



  401. Joe Horizon says:

    That was a great read. Thank you.

  402. Matt says:

    Google is evil now.

  403. eric fr says:

    and you want me to believe Microsoft is better?!? give me a break. Not so long ago, Microsoft openly killed innovative companies because Microsoft could not compete. funny how people have short memories, and believe in dream stories.

  404. Derrick says:

    I don't know if you read these comments, but as a contractor for Google in Maps, I feel this every day.  There are a lot of talented people who come up with great ideas and there is no way to share them.  The company doesn't care about processes that would improve user engagement.  I find if fascinating that they seem to have forgotten that the only way to actually attract people in an age of seemingly infinite choices is to actually be the best.  Instead, Google seems like a fearful old man.  They aren't interested in tapping into resources of people who care and care, instead, more about paying us below-reasonable wages and avoiding any risk.  It is frustrating.  No communication routes for ideas, no interest in ways to make the project better, just basic mundane assembly-line work without any hope of making real contributions.

  405. loong says:

    Never liked Google,always trying to shove something down your troat.


  406. Jeff says:

    I guess you never read the history of Apple or Microsoft, it all starts with idealism and free lunches … and ends with just another money-focused corporation. The fresh faced kids saying 'but Google isn't evil like the others" made me laugh from the start.

  407. nathan ocenasek says:

    Sir you have your own anwser and like they say freedom does not come free it comes with a price.

  408. Reginald says:

    "The fact that all this was paid for by a cash machine stuffed full of advertising loot was lost on most of us." -I hope you at least know a bit more about your current employer's core business for your sake.

    "A user exodus from Facebook never materialized." – Reaffirming your foolishness. Were you expecting to usurp the market leader overnight?

    "In fact, my last three months working for Google was a whirlwind of desperation, trying in vain to get my passion back." – By your own admission, you were only "fairly" passionate about it anyway.

  409. I can well understand, I share your opinion. Thank you for the wonderful insight Holger

  410. anne nelson says:

    I bet they just offered you more money.  Seriously, though, the guy who said "how do I share this on google +" nailed it.  I wanted to switch to Google + when Facebook privacy changed so much, (not that anything is REALLY private but ya know)  but Google + was just too complicated for most of us. The only people I know who really got into it were math and engineering majors, computer science people and really smart people. And, that's not most of us. Enjoyed your


  411. anamika says:

    Orkut never caught on outside Brazil – Did you actually work for Google? Otherwise you would know that Orkut was big in India bigger then Facebook at one time. The network effect then took all the users to Facebook. -1 to you Sir 🙂

  412. E! says:

    three months and "everybody want's to know".. seriously?

  413. Marcela says:

    Creepy that Google reads the contents of your emails and advertise while you are writing. I have experienced that I find it awful. Probably all other email software and Facebook, Twitter do the same..but I don't mind Facebook advertising based on my posts (which are not as personal as my emails).   I wish well, you made a good decision.

  414. CommanderX says:

    Yea right, but now you're working at the MOST "single corporate-mandated focus" company… C'mon, this is a bloody joke…

  415. David says:

    That's funny, you left one morally bankrupt company to work for another one.

    By the way where is Bill Gates these days?

  416. Slava says:

    Is it true that you ended up at Microsoft? Then all you said does not make sense. It is the Microsoft people that brought their development culture and work ethics to Google, and turned it into crap. Now Amazon.com is actively hiring them. Amazon will be their next victim.

  417. Reg - nbs-seo says:

    Was it the death of PageRank that caused the change in attitude/policy?

  418. Carol Amato says:

    Wow, thanks for sharing.  

    Would love a follow up of what exactly you're doing now and why it's better.

    Learning lots these days through the eyes of others…

    – Carol

  419. Richard K. Schwartz says:

    The Reverse Website

    I want a website called Reverse

    As those I use get worse and worse

    Facebook , Google. Yahoo too

    No longer seem to work for you

    All the fun things that we learned

    They have scorched the Earth and burned

    Changed the simple to complex

    Changed the concave to convex

    Why? It seems they get their pleasure

    Making *** of once was treasure.

    Just when we learn what to do

    They say that this stuff is through

    And we'll give you something new

    I don't want their condescension

    What I want is them to mention

    When we speak they pay attention.

    All this comes from competition

    Each day needs some new "ad"-addition

    So they'll never stay on track

    Always showing us their back.

    The customer is always right

    But we don't pay and all our might

    Will not lead them to new insight.

    So as we go from bad to worse

    Remember that I wrote this verse

    Imagining the site Reverse.  

  420. Brandon says:

    I commend you for being honest!

  421. Sophie says:

    Hear Hear! Here's an alike thinking mind. I'd like to unshare google with all my friends

  422. Amit says:

    Thanks for this post. Please post another one on 'Why I (re?)joined Microsoft'.

    Enquiring minds want to know… 🙂

  423. Steve Klebanoff says:

    Engaging article, I appreciate the insight into the Googleplex.  

    Do you feel as though most people in Google felt a complete shift in Google's priorities?  Do you have a sense of any departments in Google that were not affected at all?

  424. Anonymous says:

    Very unprofessional to rant and rave about your ex-employer online. Will you do the same with Microsoft when you leave again?

  425. Shane says:

    There's nothing unprofessional about honesty and transparency. If these sorts of rants and raves are not desirable then you'll need to ensure your company does not provide people with the motivation to write them.

    I hope he does rant and rave about Microsoft. His opinion is one worth reading.

  426. Indranil Mukherjee says:

    Excellently written, beautifully expressed! And I can exactly understand the way you felt about your (now ex-) company twisting around the drain. Such situations exist elsewhere too… 😉

    Almost half the commenters here question your decision to join Microsoft. It is churlish to cast doubts on your intent of course but maybe you would do well to post one on your reasons for joining back Microsoft… just to straighten the matter?

    All the best for stint 2!

  427. Tom says:

    How lame and unprofessional to rant about Google on your Microsoft blog.

    And how ironic to critisize Google for putting profit first and move to Microsoft.

  428. MBNC says:

    I agree so much with you! "Google" was such a pleasure to work on! Each time G+ comes up with irrelevant stuff … the urge to "kill the search" hits the peak. I loved to share my pics through old Picasa … but, now, its so scary!! Even without my knowledge, all my pics are shared across the whole world!

  429. Jacques Rigaut says:

    Old Google or new Google, fact is Google has done nothing truly significant. I've been working in and around the internet biz for 15 years, and have been sorely disappointed at just how big of a failure it's been. For all its promise, it has transformed nothing. Before the internet, I got in my car and drove miles to work in a cubicle or office. After the internet, with all its powers of communication, I still drive miles to work in an office. People still get on planes to travel miles for business meetings. It's basically the same society, just "fruited up" a little .

  430. amir says:

    A search for london pub walks, no longer produces ads… WTF?

  431. I think you are wrong about two things says:

    1. Goolge+ is much better than Facebook. It’s a cleaner, more professional network that does not change every time someone at Facebook has a whim. You just didn’t realize it yet, which is ironic, considering you helped build it.

    2. You started working at Microsoft… the company that is notorious at innovations… that others invented already. Moving from bad to worse… how does that make any sense?

  432. lilJohn says:

    Interesting comments, I never thought about the branding issue with facebook.com/company but that is true.  I also like your daughters quote about social, though I disagree somewhat and believe social is every where and any where not just facebook.  Yesterday it was at Myspace, today it is at; facebook, linkedIn, thumblr, and twitter, tomorrow who knows.  I think Microsoft Phone 7 has it right (though it can get better) where I post at one spot and it goes out to many locations, this is what I always interepted the "one web" concept to be.  Will love to see how you innovate moving forward at Microsoft.

  433. AW says:

    "The days of old Google hiring smart people and empowering them to invent the future was gone."

    They never did hire smart people. I interviewed with them in 2006 after finishing my PhD in CS. I was actually quite shocked by the lack of technical skills of the interviewers and them pretending to know everything better.

    I agree with the article Google is just an advertising company. In my opinion, they never were a tech company. It has always primarily been about advertising.

  434. Natti Bar-On says:

    Awesome insight. And sharing has some distance to go… 🙂 (broken? not sure)

  435. H2 says:

    Insightful as always! – Thanks for sharing.

    About your recent tweet, Google removed your farewell post the very next day you announced your joining with the MSFT. GoogleTesting blog could have shown some grace, but they didn't.

  436. Vanmeet Talwar says:

    A work environment that lets the creative juices to flow is the place where one has a sense of belonging.  Once that sense of belonging goes, the work environment becomes what you just described in the last half of your saga!

  437. Giulio says:

    The way Google behaves with respect to support, it behaves very much like an ad company. Just putting out stuff that are experiments of innovation, and then that's it. Nothing else. For the average consumer, using google bears risk in that if you have a problem with the underlying system, you have to in most cases rely on the online support systems and forums. Rarely will a google employee intervene when it's actually required in those rare circumstances. It certainly lets the consumer feel worthless except for the data they're pumping into Google. Users are looked upon as feeding machines, much like people, enslaved in the matrix, served a very simple and sterile purpose.

    So, google has never really demonstrated to me that it's committed to quality of service, rather, trying to avoid that overhead by creating automated systems to support millions of users. Perhaps now we're seeing google for what it's masters run it for. An advertising machine, the strategic positioning of innovation and entrepreneurship is a facade in so far as being a market disruptor and not a genuine line of revenue.

  438. MikeWhit says:

    If "big corporateness" is essentially the reason you left Google, then it might have been a better idea to have joined a startup or mid-sized company.

    If you just want a well-funded canteen and corporate campus, then by all means enjoy Microsoft. Or try IBM – from experience a few years back they were pretty good in the area I was in.

  439. Dani Lunsford says:

    This honesty you write about was a huge part of your creative life…..it has to be a real bummer to see your dream die, in the clutches of greed!

  440. Jack Straw says:

    If your issue with Google was Really the lack of innovation from bottom-up, it doesn't make sense why you would join Microsoft.

  441. Pete says:

    Awesome post. Some home truths here google should not ignore. Not sure why you'd go to Microsoft though? Especially give your passions. Worth another post?

  442. Greg says:

    Really, who cares about you pal. Besides, time will prove you wrong, wait and you´ll see

  443. Pia says:

    I never read whole long blog posts. -never- This I did, because it's affects me. The change in Google affects me – a measly SharePoint architect in Sweden – but it does. I remember the first time I saw Google. I remember how I was rooting for them, and I don't remember what I left behind. Gmail, still use it but I'm afraid of it now. Perhaps my Hotmail deserves more attention… I dunno.

    But what a ride, huh? What a ride…..

  444. Kwex says:

    Nice post James. I don't find much happening in Google+ as per my socials. I visit Facebook once a day to give my buddies birthday wishes and get an overview of what is happening in my Social World. I guess time would tell how much competition Google+ would give Facebook.

    Goodluck in Microsoft.

  445. The Happy Google Plusser says:

    OK, so you lost faith in a company that you had invested years of your time into – complaining that they stopped innovating and engineering to your liking – only to go and work for Microsoft?

    Pot calling the Kettle black much? This is an obvious PR stunt.

  446. Mutimba Mazwi says:

    You could have borrowed from Greg Smith of Goldman Sachs! Good luck!

  447. JenJenBoBen says:

    This exact thing happened to me in the software company where I worked. These two sentences said it all: "The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus." Thank you for being so candid. It's comforting in some way to learn that this happens to others, sad as it is.    

  448. TemplarKnight says:

    Well… I don't know what to say… I really enjoy reading your post, but at the end it makes no sense to me that you are moving to MS now, I'm totally lost on that one…

    It's like saying "Ok, this priest is not good at preaching, I'll better become satanist…", well, it sounds something like that for me… Sorry for the religious comment, but that is what I fell…

    I would rather prefer 100 times more to see you on a new startup, rather to see you on the "innovation graveyard" as someone said.

    Good luck after all, you really deserve it… 🙂

  449. JagaaRJ says:

    Wow, it's my first time seeing somebody saying that I wanted to work in a better place rather as Google. Well, Thank you for writing without a sauce. I wish you a great success to you future endeavours.

  450. Sarah says:

    Fascinating and sad.  I remember when Google wasn't evil.

  451. Tamir says:

    Google give their products for free. so why complaining that they earn money from Ads.

  452. NGA says:

    Give a true feeling about the author and a lot of courage to write it.

    3 cheers

  453. XGoogler says:

    You are right, I was with Google for 8 years, the first five years was the best

    in my professional carrier but the last three was the worst. More than anything else its just hurts, when we get attached to the company. But you are not the only one, I have seen so many good people just left, because they couldn't able to tolerate it anymore.  

  454. Nathanael says:

    Hmmm.  Given that Facebook has already declared themselves evil — and sooner or later WILL be supplanted because of that — and the Google decided to destroy themselves chasing Facebook — and that Microsoft decided to destroy themselves long ago when they became a convicted monopolist —

    — I think there's what we call an "opening".  Someone's going to take it, and given the corporate record, I bet it will be a well-funded not-for-profit.

  455. Mhack says:

    Spot on.

  456. Hussein L says:

    Very insightful. Wish you all the best in your career post Google.

  457. oliver brelsford says:

    Wow, it's kind of cool that the view of Google of an 'insider' is pretty much the same view and outsider has. Yes, Google turns out to be just as evil as all the rest of the greedy corps. The 'free software' was a great hook, and it worked for awhile. They should stick with that model but make better stuff. After all, Google Chrome? Innovative? Gmail? Google+? Is this the best that thousands of the 'smartest' could come up with? I do like Android though, and don't see where it has become obligatorially social as of yet.

  458. Monika says:

    do you think there are going to be companies that focus on innovation and the employees can be still part of it – which are those ?

  459. bendodge says:

    Google+ didn't take off because of the age restriction. If your teenagers followed the rules, they wouldn't even be allowed to have Google+ accounts. As a college student, a chunk of who's friends cannot join Google+, I remain firmly convinced that this is a major contributor to G+'s failure.

  460. anonymouse says:

    Nothing succeeds than success, you realised this only when you failed. :-). Every one out there works for ROI. Google/Microsoft or *****. If you are truly honest, start something yourself.

  461. hbk says:

    Facebook, google are both provide over value products( & this must be the understatement of the century)!! Remember the real estate market and how the financial institutions tried to milk every possible dollar out of it through fake financial products?

  462. Bob says:

    I was wondering what happened. The difference was so night & day. First the translation API goes away, then Google+ starts getting rammed down my throat at every turn and the last straw was a truly rigid and clueless all-in-one policy that hit me simultaneously on my phone, my browser and my youtube channel. It's ridiculous. I haven't updated my Android software or apps in months because I refuse to say "Yes" to (apparently) everything Google does (or might do). I've never felt such a "boot on my throat" from any company… odd that it should come from a company that I trusted nearly implicitly for years. I worked for Intel in the early years managing various product lines as each had its day in the sunshine: print-servers, routers, hubs, switches, NICs & such. It took years for Intel to transition from a company of bright people who were turned on by innovation to a company of serious people focused on buying or destroying anyone who competed. Watching it happen to Google in such a short period of time was startling. I literally found this post while searching to find out what happened… not because I'd heard that anything had happened, but simply because it was so blatantly obvious that I felt compelled to find out if something had indeed happened, or if something had been happening and I simply just pulled my head out and made the realization, or if I was imagining things and becoming old & rigid. Thanks for helping confirm that I'm not imagining things or losing touch. What a sad turn of events.

    But it's no matter really, no company is too big to fail and no one company is necessary for life to continue. FWIW, I've made some changes in the last week. I now use Bing in my browser bar for searching. I've stopped posting Youtube videos and contemplating a Vimeo commercial account, and for about the last two weeks I've been trying to convince myself that it's worth buying out the remainder of my phone service plan to ditch my Android and go back to Windows Phone (I had a Windows 7 phone, but went Android because I got tired of "Zune-in-my-face" … AKA… not being able to just drag & drop files to & from it as one should reasonably expect to do)

    Well, thanks for what Google once was. I enjoyed the ride while it lasted.

    Thanks for being an honest passionate technologist. People like you and Eric Schmidt create the world. People like Larry Page quite simply …don't.

  463. Kasia says:

    Great article, I appreciate honesty and irony. All the best!

  464. Lord Dark Plaguies says:

    James, a great fan of your here.  Those books on breaking software were awesome.

    However, I doubt that Microsoft is right place apart from you can get a lotta money 🙂

    Oh I even doubt that, there are other companies who pay way more… 🙂

  465. Lord Darth Plaguies says:

    James, a great fan of yours here.  Those books on breaking software were awesome.

    However, I doubt that Microsoft is right place apart from you can get a lotta money 🙂

    Oh I even doubt that, there are other companies who pay way more… 🙂

  466. Andy Baxter says:

    +1 for Why I Joined Microsoft, off to link to this post in twitter, facebook, linkedin, yammer, digg, delicious and friendsreunited (reunited)

  467. A former Yahoo says:

    So much of this rings so true to me, except the year is 2005 and my company is Yahoo!.  The company we are unable to compete with?  Yep, Google.  Swap out those couple details and your story is my story.

  468. Swliv says:

    Without reading all comments (just page 5), what I learned coming here from techcrunch.com/…/google-the-charge-of-the-like-brigade which I reached via seekingalpha.com/…/460521-google-is-selling-content-now-king [? is the way the Seeking Alpha head ends] IS:

    JWhittaker was RETURNING TO M'soft.

  469. Bob says:

    So you join Microsoft where they've come up with Windows 8. Oh dear.

  470. Carlos says:

    “social isn’t a product,” (…) “social is people and the people are on Facebook.”

    This is the best description of why I deleted my G+ account. It's not social if there's no one there. And I don't care if celebrity X is there (I don't follow them on Facebook either), my friends and family aren't and that's all that really matters to me.

  471. Interesting says:

    So you left Google for…umm Microsoft? Do you even know what it is to work at Microsoft. It is ten times worse and without the success that Google has had. And online service division? Really???. A person like you will not be worth anything to them unless you know how to suck up to the executive circles you talk about, can talk the loudest in the room and pretend you really know what you are saying. No, seriously.

  472. Catherine Hughes says:


  473. Rob Sanders says:

    OK, Microsoft might not be home to the benchmark of innovation (and it's pretty much a marketing company these days compared to the past), but there's quite a lot of R&D and original development.  Microsoft Research, for one, does a lot of work without a specific commercial application.  The Kinect is quite possibly a revolution compared to Nintendo's Wii.  A blanket "Microsoft's a graveyard" is a bit harsh.  Best of luck at Redmond!

  474. Mario says:

    Whao ! Such an honest and insightful article…..THank you for your generosity and for sharing

  475. Ed Straker says:

    Unfortunately, Google is an advertising company using content they have NO RIGHTS to.

    Google is not a "service provider" under 17 USC § 512(k)(1)(B), and lie in Federal Courts of law.  Pretty simple.  Send this evil to hell, hell, hell.

  476. Sspolly163@gmail.com says:

    This is my first time i visit here. I found so many useful stuff in your website especially its discussion. From the a lot of comments on your articles, I guess Im not the only one receiving the many satisfaction right here! keep up a good job.

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  477. Steve Jobs says:

    "Microsoft is still the 2 trick pony that won the market by killing competition. They are milking the windows and office franchises and creating me-too products that are losing billions."

    And what is Xbox?

  478. Anon says:

    +1 person's whining for not getting to work on other cool projects at Google?

  479. David Woodfin says:


    Thank you for your nice information.I like it.

  480. David Woodfin says:

    Thanks so much – this was helpful!

  481. Pete says:

    This would eventually mean something if you are not working for M$. en.wikipedia.org/…/Paradox

  482. some dude says:

    "And you went to Microsoft? Microsoft?! One of the most corrupt technology companies on the planet and you feel better about that? Microsoft?!"

    Because you type it doesn't mean it's true…..

  483. Snel 10 kilo afvallen says:

    Serioulsly you joined microsoft, that is very ironic


  484. Fred Flintstone says:

    How long did you actually work at Google? Barely two years?

  485. Oscar Casanovas says:

    (clap clap clap)


  486. ex-msfter says:

    Great !! you're testing philosophies ruined the whole QA org at Microsoft, now you've spread your toxic testing concepts to Google and made them falter. Now back to Microsoft to spoil it even further eh ?

  487. Jax says:

    excuse me, did someone say "why microsoft out of all places?"….. in case you didn't know… MONEY TALKS!

  488. Mika Kangas says:

    Thanks for Sharing, Excellent Blog Post!

  489. Chris Buenviaje says:

    Thanks for sharing your insights and passion towards your craft. As always, I do learn a lot from you JW. Good luck!

  490. Sharon K. Snow says:

    I was hoping I could find a Email account that isn't full of advertising, maybe there are'nt any, I'm new to the computer!

  491. Vishal Mehta says:

    And and and and…

    Look at the 'Share' buttons… No Google Plus!


  492. Pritam Pebam says:

    Would love to read "Why I left Microsoft" from you someday!

  493. lulu says:

    Google isn't Facebook, Blackberry isn't iPhone,..Know your users, know your customers and play to your own strengths! – When will they get it?

  494. Ian says:

    Before january this year i always said you can google it but I have gradually been using Bing for the last 3 months and now only use Bing, as I am fed up with googles arrogance in the last 3 months, pushing this crap G+ thing down my throat and the search results are just real crap especially in the last month, and I refuse to click on paid ads just because google has made the organic rubbish. Seems they are on the way out and Bing are on the way up with Facebook. At least now I know why I have felt this for the last 3 months.

  495. Mandy Lee says:

    Okay I realise it's impossible to leave a lengthy comment in this comment box – it's absolutely frustrating in fact as I couldn't see the last third of what I typed in my previous message, which I just discovered doesn't show up even when I clicked "post". So, this will be the first and last time I comment on a MSDN blog then. Not a great advertisement for MS really, I'm afraid.

  496. Mandy Lee says:

    Okay, so my second comment showed up but not my first, which was when I expended great energy writing you a proper comment and about Google's issues in the social space but which are now forever lost. Thanks for nothing MSDN!!!

  497. kappocino says:

    I found this post on Google! LMAO

  498. mark says:

    GGweveryone needs a medium were they do best is to not be blind to openings andkeep an open mind  whats good for the goos is good for the gander

  499. Laurence Rio says:

    This is a very valuable testimony. I wish there were more honest people around. Google is a threat to the free world.

  500. Choirl says:

    mind blowing, thanks for sharing…

  501. google is slow dying says:

    i agree with you, after last black and white animals like pandas and penguins here is no place for small business in google organic results. top3, sidebars full of ads, in organic results only yahoo answers/wikipedia and amazon pages. Content producer sites is nowhere or under news/articles/agreggators sites.

    Google definitely don't know what them want now. Good news – their adwords ROI going down, so later will many interesting news. Also anti monopoly legal action coming soon. 3 top level guys from amazon now in google, and amazon everywhere, even under 'toys for adults'. it becoming more and more 'corporation of honesty'.

  502. Uncle Fishbits says:

    Sharing is broken.  Search is broken too.  There are no easy answers, but simply maintaining and towing the corporate philosophy isn't healthy for a business.  Spam won over the search algorithm, and it's rapidly becoming less relevant, opening the doorway for more innovative people to, basically, start and capitalize off the semantic web.  Nothing lasts forever, but doing absolutely nothing will help you last much less than that.  Google is doing what they have to do, so is MS, FB, Apple, etc.  We're all just meaningless, temporary drones in the bigger picture.  But at least we have blogs, right?

    I agree 100% with your sentiment.  But sooner or later we have to wake up and realize this is the first 1% of a march in the new age of communication.  We have just watched the first 15 years or so of the web's growth and formation / gelling.  This is just the beginning.  Opinions about what a company is doing in this sliver of a moment of history are completely irrelevant in the greater scheme of things.

  503. Christopher Rose says:

    I've heard rumours that either or both of Amazon and Facebook are going to launch search engines.

    Anybody got anything more solid on something that seems both plausible and exciting?

  504. Ron Calef says:

    Excellent insight, and a very candid & frank set of observations Thank you.

  505. Marc in Texas says:

    No Flag on Google for Flag Day?   Adios Google. Go


  506. Can Altineller says:

    if you are saying this, i should be worried. i hate ads too. and all those companies collect and analyze too much information about us. i would love to see `anti-ad built-in and default` browser come from microsoft, it would be the perfect game spoiler. also a 'dont-track-me by default' browser too would be nice.

  507. Hardik Upadhyay says:

    Totally agree to your point and the things about killing creativity and innovation in large Companies. But this is what the future of most of the companies starting from Google, facebook, Groupon. You name any of the company which has stayed creative during is whole lifecycle?

  508. Arif says:

    Great post … just not sure how it would be different at Microsoft

  509. Mark Tomlinson says:

    Now that you are back at Microsoft, will testing no longer be dead?  🙂

  510. Alberto says:

    Both are devil, Still looking for a new freedom spirit ….

  511. Martin says:

    I can't help but think James that this blog is more about you and less about Google.

  512. Martin says:

    … by that I mean, you probably needed a new challenge or different environment rather than …

  513. Michel says:

    No I have not left Google because this is king of search engine and I have been anything search on their search box for getting some perfect answer. Yes I know maximum people are also the using same way for get more information’s, so I know whose any person can’t leave Google

  514. swapna sundar says:

    Dear Mr. Whittaker,

    I read your blog with interest. We are in the process of setting up a technology based start-up with one pending patent and several patents in the pipeline. I would like to work with someone who can make our company what 'google' was – a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. Any suggestions?




  515. James says:

    Have courage dude.

  516. Juliet says:

    Alex Garcia-  saucer of milk for table 3?

  517. I think you'll be happy at Microsoft, despite all the haters' comments. Microsoft is bound by needs of legacy customers, but actually it's very innovative, and it needs original thinkers like yourself who know when to bet on something new… for example, I bet you love driving your electric car to work! Also, I like that Microsoft treats customers with more respect than Google.

  518. Rubel says:

    I agree. Technology has made a very cold, disconnected place we live in. People are too much in a hurry all the time

    to be bothered with a phone call. But they can sit for hours hooked to reading Facebook , is this anyway to stay

  519. JulieTorrentino of Youtube says:

    "I can't help but think James that this blog is more about you and less about Google."

    I can't help but think Martin that this post is more about you being a *** and less about his problems with a dipshit organization!

  520. Alicia Staz says:

    Great article.  We have all seen it played out – you just confirmed it for us.  I am closing my small business website down at the end of the year.  I have been in biz 7 years…the last year has been a train wreck.  I refuse to pay for ads therefore I refuse to be a small business online. SAD.

  521. Mark Pritchard says:

    Google used to be cool and supportive of the webmaster community, but now we are its whipping boys.  Is sad they have turned their back on us, but like you we are all turning out backs on Google.  I pray each day that Facebook will launch a search product so Google can be put into its place.

  522. Why does google want us to use our real name ? says:

    Why does google want us to use our real name ?

  523. Nadia says:

    This is strong: Google -1  🙂 I like it.

  524. Bart says:

    So you were less than 3 years at Google and you talk about the "good old days" ….

  525. Robert says:

    Thanks for information! How we see it now google become more and more greedy with their 'best user experience' updates. Not sure why google not understand what it way down, not up. And don't be scroogled by google!

  526. Raymond says:

    A really good read. Thanks for sharing!

  527. Jacob Lageveen says:

    Very good and interesting article. Thank you.

  528. Martin Leeney says:

    James, great post well done for making the right decision. free thinking & innovation is needed if you want to lead the way. Google has lost that and is so focused on revenue streams that they are now detaching from the real purpose of the web in favor of profiteering. Their search results are back sliding now as they are almost all paid for in one way or another. Good luck and go and invent something really great.

  529. Marianne McDougall says:

    I thank you for sharing your story. Google has changed and the search now does not seem like an honest one.

    Time for a change I think.

  530. Melbourne says:

    I always wondered, is Google the only top Search engine? Why no one can beat them? Why can they monopolize the industry alone?

    Cheers, Steve

  531. Kym Taylor-Rhys says:

    Thank you for sharing. Your article is very insightful, and well presented 🙂

  532. Bob Sullivan says:

    That is "Pure James Whitaker". Best of luck!!

  533. FaridaSHERIF says:

    Love your sense of Humor 🙂 You're a very good writer! Welcome back 😉

  534. Manish says:

    Nice post. Thanks for sharing.

  535. Dar says:

    Great piece of work. Interesting and intelligent

    perspective on Google. You should write a book.  

  536. Carla says:

    Oh well… hope you find something you like to do. Is a pain when you work your butt off and then all of the sudden things aren't the way your expecting or turn out to  be in a different way! In matter of search… well…i see crap websites in front of others that actually are quite nice(talking in customer point of view). Is the commercials, someday that's the only thing u will find… commercials… until it loses interest!

  537. jonah says:

    facebook is a trash site now, the equivalent of a mcdonalds offering a nasty scaled down product in order to get as many public hits as possible. it used to be somewhat classy (aside from the whole thievery thing), offered a rarefied but not absolutely exclusive domain. i left a while ago now. theres a vacuum waiting to fill the space that facebook left when its characterless "creator" did what was expected and followed the money. perhaps an innovative young coder might provide what fb seemed to in the beginning? except with some integrity and commitment to its users….believe me, there are billion people who would leave fb in a hot second if there was something else better to go to….i say this because i see google having gone the way of fb and being more concerned with social control via social online media than providing a safe harbor for user expression and connection

  538. Pull says:

    Google search has a put in their filter what they want people to believe not what they believe.  They want to control the mind of the searcher.  And dictate what they can search for to support their belief on what is right and wrong and that's evil.  I just got a new computer and I can only get about 1/3rd of what I use to search for.  I first thought it was just me but talking to more and more people that have done the same thing all say that google is manipulating their search engine and the people who are using it to not only to increase their monies but to manipulate what the people can read and not read.  That is an attempt at mind control and that is evil.

  539. Curtis Parfitt-Ford says:

    Way to go! Google shall never prevail against the growing tide of angry users upset about privacy violations!

  540. Jaime says:

    Can't help but notice he left out the share on Google+ option 😀

  541. Alexander Saint Croix says:

    This is what happens when our government forces a successful private company to go public.

  542. E Saputra says:

    Yeah. I miss the old google too

  543. Priyank Kabaria says:

    "Like" on this – "Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn’t invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation."

  544. Kenny says:

    A good and honest piece, thank you James. As for the Microsoft bashers, I can empathize but that's clearly not what this article is about. Microsoft and Google are companies, and it's best if we acknowledge them as so and talk more like adults instead of thinking them some superheroes no?

  545. John says:

    I left Google too, for many of the same reasons.. Glad I'm not the only one!

  546. Arno Bosch says:

    Thanks for sharing your opinion, get's me thinking, as I still believed in the Google that you once did. Now, I am not too sure anymore.

  547. Mike Patterson says:

    Seriously ??  I would have taken your views 100% had you left Google and joined some startup or started your company of your own. Instead you joined Microsoft, the scum on earth, and calling the pot black.  I really pity you. I am not saying Google is all good and no evil, but even google becomes 100 times evil, still they would never be at par with microsoft. This is the one company that has to die and will die..

  548. K says:

    And they've started dropping great content in favour of more focus already: Reader is going down, despite (probably way more than) half a million power-users. I'm thinking about getting an e-mail that is safe of eradication, because my Gmail account is ridiculously important to me right now. All eggs in one basket felt risky before, now it became outright dangerous.

    I'm not a prophet, but if this trend continues, Google will lose its position at the top very quickly.

  549. Guillermo G. says:

    Great article. Ive never worked for Google but part of me always wanted. Im an engineer but passion about entrepreneurship, reading something like this really opened my mind about working for such a big corporation.


  550. anon says:

    "I hated the new corporate environment – so I went to Microsoft."

    Fail -_-

  551. Rohan says:

    Oh god! Thank you for the article.

  552. ryan says:

    I thought this post made a lot of sense until I read that you joined Microsoft? If you were tired of a "has-been" Google then goodluck at Microsoft "never-was".

  553. Hans says:

    There is no Google+ share button on the article.

  554. Mohammad Badi says:

    Pretty the same thoughts. I was so passionate about this company years before and how they it moved from dump ads to innovation (lets discuss innovation later). Recently, I am so annoyed and freaked out by the location history they store, by the Google+ useless promotions that I've never used and not a single person in my life ever used or thinking of it, even worst when it comes to ads inside Gmail.

    That's why I switched from Android to iPhone, and switched from Gmail to Apple iCloud email and I am pretty satisfied with both and feel like my privacy is secure and my data are in a safe place not being sold to companies or used to show advertisements. I just wish I can replace YouTube or get my subscriptions through a third-party company.

    Unfortunately, Google is now more scary and kinda lost with the endless number of projects they launch.

    Best of luck 🙂

  555. Sarat says:

    Honest comments. I appreciate that. Every company has their core business, they envision and excel at it. Facebook is pretty shameless to take cue from any social products and make their product better. They're playing this game to win, but Google has to think well, how it really fits in to google culture and products. I am seriously tired of Google+ it's a good product but it has to be used in different way. It's kind of better blogging platform than Blogger. I must say, Plus and Blogger should converge.

  556. Zack H says:

    Thank you for sharing this post. I'll be joining Microsoft in August as a new grad. I would really be interested in hearing why you decided to join Microsoft after leaving Google. What was the appeal there rather than other tech giants? Thank you for your time!

  557. Larry says:

    Interesting that they also unwittingly did most of the work in creating a new kind of Apply type thing via Android: SAMSUNG who ended up taking away the large piece of the pie they wanted with Motorola…

  558. SockRolid says:

    That $12.5 billion Motorola acquisition is weighing heavily on Google.

    That was roughly 1.5 years' profits at the time the deal was cut.

    Good luck earning that back, Google.

  559. Tony Rahman says:

    I'd also like to know why you joined Microsoft (it's clear why you left Google from your post). Being at MS for 16 years myself, I'm just curious why some people are still attracted to Microsoft (it's a good thing!) without actually biasing them with my opinions. Great write-up! Welcome.

  560. Skanoza says:

    "There's no drama here.. "


    Yeah, right!

    Nice read, though. And thanks for sharing.

    Best wishes for your future.

  561. Bob says:

    Definitely miss the old google. The new one has become little more than a monster.

  562. Gmail's creepy ads says:

    LOL, YEARS ago I read a funny thread describing EXACTLY what you mentioned about Google's creepy ads reading your email. It was by a girl who got dumped by her boyfriend and was talking to someone else about how sad she was about it, and the Gmail ads that were popping up: geekdrop.com/…/maybe-google-isnt-so-great-for-breakups

  563. S says:

    I searched for something on my Android phone and soon afterward got related ads on my smartphone, even though I don't use Google+ and have never given that phone number to Google. I don't like Google's new privacy violation policies, and that was the last straw. I got rid of my Android phone. Now I use iPhone and do most of my searches on Bing. Google will find out too late that greed and arrogance drives away those oh-so-lucrative users.

  564. amos says:

    Neil Mosafi 13 Mar 2012 1:49 PM

    So what made you join Microsoft?


  565. Bernt Mansson says:

    Telli us about your new flow, without Google Reader, GMail etc

  566. Preeti says:

    One quick question. When did you actually quit? I mean the year

  567. Kevin says:

    Professor – do yourself a favor and skip all of these comments. Anonymous talk is cheap…even mine.

    Also – there are no good guys out there. Make the best decisions you can with the info at hand…and then do the best you can with it.

  568. Dave Fellows says:

    For all of those questioning Microsoft's creativity and ability to innovate – you're out of touch with the Microsoft of today sorry. Microsoft now spends more on R&D than any other tech company. Check out some of their R&D innovations:


  569. CarrolltonPersona says:

    Social became state-owned, a corporate mandate called Google+, It was like TV used to be: make the best show and you get the most ad revenue from commercials

  570. Angelo Barrera says:

    Google has been around since I first searched the term "Red Alert" It is sad to watch it sell itself as an ad-whore.

  571. anonymous says:

    I wonder if this article was in your contract or you just got a nice raise.

  572. Jeanne says:


    Why I left AMD or the stifling of innovation.

  573. Myron Zorger says:

    Aye, there's the rub!

    Google, like M$, changes for the sake of change and alienates countless poor slobs who follow like sheep of is it sheeple?

    Good to know all is not well in technoland!

    Pray for the scenario of 'One Second After"

  574. Voz Earl says:

    Great post. I am so irritated by the way they have tried to force Youtube users into Google+ that I have swapped 99% of my email activity over to an old yahoo account. If they keep this up I will delete all my Google accounts, including my videos some of which have nearly 1 million views. I HATE their advertising and NEVER click on any of their links (nor those on Facebook). You are so right–focus on the CONTENT and the money will follow. They have completely lost their way…

  575. Colleen Kirtland says:

    A sincere post. Thanks for sharing. I certainly would not have the insight you do on Google, but an interesting article came out on linked in today saying Facebook is worse with ads and is "doomed"


  576. Technogics says:

    I never want to left Google, Google done really good things for me to generate new business and get new customers.

  577. RT GLORIA says:

    Google follows most successful startup.  If you are hired in five year of a startup, you need to plan your exit.  You did not sign your name to the business or contributed "cash" or "credit" as well as being on the hook for the business loan.  If you are hired after the five year mark, it is the period of expansion and people find a niche quick and "internal charge" some real stuff and some bs.  For example, free starbucks and etc…means that their is a off site owned starbucks or stockbroker in the mist.  Free is not free.  Usually, the lowest payed people stay consistently other than the founders.  However, if it becomes public it almost run like a corporation where the bottom line matters.  Documentation is necessary and political clout inside and outside the company especially to the government for cash contracts.  

  578. Ivan says:

    The last thing you say is: The old Google was a great place to work. The new one? I can answer that is to easy the new Google is TRASH! Thank you for the great work here top of the top dude!

  579. Christopher Prengel, Austria says:

    A very enlightening, refreshing, honest and rightfully biased look 'under the hood'. This is great sharing. Thanks!

  580. Johnsmith says:

    Firstly I Will Thanks for share Great Information for us… and I am can not lying to you because I want to promote my sites from your corporate 

  581. Gary K says:

    So now at Microsoft? You sound a talented guy so hopefully you get to work on the BingAds Interface. Kinda reminds me of website built circa 1995, its so far behind the adwords interface its scary.

    Sad that the innovation has been killed by what seems a vendetta against fb. Adwords still converts way better than fbads though and I don't really like the new keyword planner, give me the old keyword tool anyday.

    Thanks for sharing!


  582. TJ says:

    "The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate."

    As a user I think this attitude is now filtering down to the user base.

    I am sitting here stunned at myself that I have just updated a copy of Firefox and set Bing as the default search engine. That's why I found your post.

    The Google brand, the innovative dream brand that I was so passionate about (as a user) is no more.

    The things you talk about have come to a head. That's why I also just left Google (as a user).

  583. Google+ Killed the YouTube Star says:

    This entire post made my soul sad. I wish all of the ex employees from Google and Youtube would get together and make a super social/search/video site like the old google and youtube… and in turn let the new Google go plus itself.

  584. mabroor says:

    <a href="http://suchbolo.com.au/&quot; rel="dofollow" target="_blank">sachi baat</a>

  585. Zach says:

    Well one things for sure, Goober plus sucks.

  586. Kevin Kennedy says:

    Google is inovation ,,, did you come up with any of googles recent or past inovations ,,,, mabey your pissed becaues others thought of the good ideas first ,,,

  587. An Alcoholic says:

    I really enjoyed this article. Your writing style is good, and you have a book in you, get it printed! Next, i am exhausted by google suggesting how my life should be. I miss watching good youtube videos. How the hell did they screw up that. I have to duckduckgo for now.. but later.

  588. Nathan says:

    I've noticed over the last few years the innovations have slowed and even getting simple features added to products seems impossible. I mean they don't even bother to answer requests at all, even after years of people asking for the same simple thing, for example a progress bar on Google Drive, or many other things. I mean they don't even say no, they just don't give a damn anymore. I hope that someone will come along and start to replace them with something better. And I used to be the biggest Google fan.

  589. sapna agrwal says:

    Nice I like it.

  590. Dori Jaffe says:

    Thank you for this article. I found it while googling 🙂 for some way to get out of google (move my email etc). It's like they're creating barriers to being able to use the web easily and in the different ways each of us want to do it. I feel so angry and so powerless, especially since I'm not a computer whiz.

    Hope you find a good place to work again.

  591. Kevin says:

    Almost 2 years after you wrote this blog I read this article. It's funny how many facts are true 2 years down the track. You either be brilliant or the world is getting more stupid..

  592. Google is having to learn how to make money with real value says:

    The fact that google has been riding a wave of imaginary income and perceived value, for some time, is now more of a mythical story of sorts.  The markets are changing because people value their privacy and want to spend money for quality products.  Google has a lot of things which they can sell for good money.  The problem is, that they have no idea how to engage consumers with money.

    They seem to think that there is something imaginary about building money making products in the age of the internet.  They are trying to "sell" hardware things, sort of, but are suffering from that becoming a negative aspect of their relationship with all the other Android device vendors who want to fork Android so that they don't have to license Google Play and/or other products that Google forces into the Android device space through that licensing.

    In the end, Google is on a waning curve of importance, just as MS is.  Both companies have internal management problems and real issues with understanding exactly what technologies would be most valuable to current and potential new customers.

  593. .... says:

    Both companies are letting technologist drive their products.  Microsoft let's engineers compete with each other for the coolest thing to release, instead of having a plan, end-to-end, for how each product and UI element enhances the user experience as witnessed in Windows-8 release.  Google lets research results become products too early and with too little market study.  Google glass is an example of something that became hated by the public because it compromises their privacy.

    There are countless other examples where these two companies just barely succeed now without actually "finishing" their products.  They don't finish them, because they are not viable enough for the future, because there was not enough planning in place to have made these things actually work out as real products.

    There are parts of Windows that have been ripped out, which were some of the most desirable administrative features.  There are parts of google docs, such as the missing TOC feature that have never been provided.  If google docs had a TOC feature, people would be running to it, willing to pay to use it, like mad men.

    If Windows 8 still had the same desktop interface as Windows-7, Microsoft would have sold a lot of replacement computers when XP was retired.  All of the people providing tech support for their parents, aunts, uncles and siblings told them to go buy refurbished windows-7 machines on line rather than deal with the disastrously broken Windows-8 desktop environment.

    If Microsoft would actually make Virus and Malware impossible on their platform, or at least not able to destroy data and force system reloads/rebuilds, an awful lot of people running to the Apple store in a full on sprint, might actually stop by the Microsoft Store as they passed by, to see if there might be something "useful" for them there.

    But, right now, all those "tech support" people who are tired of clearing viruses and malware off of peoples computers for the 10th time are just saying, please go buy a Mac, you will enjoy it, and no longer have to worry about viruses and malware.

  594. indian guy from internship says:


  595. Epicbeaver says:

    I understood it I had been straight back to regular looking at and my concerns were actually yet again rising.There one thing addicting about epicbeaver.com/buy-instagram-followers So as with many addictions I need to be stop And once I receive bored stiff or don't seem like taking care of what I am taking care of I cant by using a swift just click of your mouse hop to see, that lasted for the simple while and.

  596. nicolas says:

    sharing worked : it was called google reader. just had to double down on it

  597. Heather F. says:

    "Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn’t invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation. The fact that no one came to Google’s party became the elephant in the room."

    Truer words seldom spoken.  Now that rich kid breaks into your house, kidnaps you, and forces you at gunpoint to come to his party.  

    I dumped all Google's products today.  YouTube, +, Gmail – all of it.

    Social is not a product.  Your teenager was astute.

  598. Dee says:

    "In such an environment you don’t have to be part of some executive’s inner circle to succeed. You don’t have to get lucky and land on a sexy project to have a great career. Anyone with ideas or the skills to contribute could get involved."

    "The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate."

    Cool, article. On these quotes, sure would be nice if a company around here would codify and OWN these concepts. For years I've asked PM's on where employees or a contractor could pitch a product, I ask often and no one knows where, or to whom. How is Microsoft going to innovate the next big thing, when no one can tell the innovators already present, where they can innovate?

    I have a product in my mind that no one has on the market, that's ripe for the marketplace, that's social, combines software and hardware and worth billions and I can't even get an ear. Not the right badge color, should it matter? Who knows, but in 6 years here I've not seen anyone be allowed to innovate, only shut downs and roadblocks. And now we're about to make the largest technology transfer (or innovator transfer) to our determent by letting the valuable MS focused contractor force go to competitors, with all their knowledge, innovation and passion… Is that winning??

    One thing for sure, your quotes are the reason companies have long term success, a lot of us here want that, but the doors are closed on us. Maybe someone should change that.

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  600. shane says:

    Avner Caspi found that, while face-to-face interactions tended to provide greater satisfaction, in anonymous settings participation and risk-taking flourished.

  601. crystal says:

    hey there i just want to know if you can get me in to the google because i just need to go on google please conast me on my moilb number witch is 0212947621 from me crystal fa

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  603. anna Google says:

    What do you consider the best search engine?

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  605. Vivian Chen says:

    It's the first time I read things like this.Google is always a great company in my heart until I read this.And it's the first time I think Microsoft is better than Google for me,the girl who has graduated from University for just one year.

  606. Sophia41 says:

    Good people with integrity always stands up for what they believe in … those absent of integrity will never understand why they lost everything, including their own souls.

  607. Sophia41 says:

    The commercialization of the internet is in direct proportion to corporate and personal greed.

  608. Sophia41 says:

    To "anna" Google (actually, "annie" in Farsi):

    In response to your question:

    A good search engine conforms to the needs of the RESEARCHERS, NOT restricted by intentional limitations forced by Google "ENGINEERS", who force the researcher to conform to their limitations.

    More often than not, an astute researcher understands and has the capability to apply his/her knowledge far deeper than the limited platforms to which engineers applied forced limitations and restricted conformity of search capabilities.

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