Thursday, January 27, 2005

what.. what would you say... ya do here?

so lots of people have been asking me what my job actually is. contrary to some people's beliefs, my job is not to blog about google; that's what i do in my free time. i'm actually an associate product manager on adsense. that means i'm sandwiched in between being the customer advocate and harnessing all the cool stuff happening through engineers' 20% time. in my opinion, this is the best job in the industry, especially given that i'm a google customer too. so basically, i spend the bulk of my time thinking of new features or products that customers would want (read: stuff that i want) and then i organize people to build it. it's great!

anyways, one peculiarity in the population of associate product managers (apms) here is the mix of alma maters. there are only 3 non-stanford/non-m.i.t. apms, including myself. the other apms are split between the two schools, with stanford taking a slight lead i think. i don't really think it was planned like that, but i'll definitely be doing my part to mix it up a little :)

to be honest, when i first got here, i was kind of disappointed that i was put on adsense. i wanted to work on consumer products, where i could focus on coming up with new offerings that would revolutionize the way people use computers and the internet. but now that i've settled in a bit, i'm actually beginning to like what i work on. i can spend my 20% time exploring new ideas to my heart's content and there are tons of possible improvements in the system - more work than our current team can handle. every improvement we make has the potential to help out tons of customers and the people here are focused on getting these solutions out to customers as soon as possible.

which leads me to one of google's most valuable competitive advantages: the ability to get features out the door extremely quickly. this is by far one of the most striking contrasts between google and microsoft.

before i left microsoft, i chatted with a lot of people and there was one theme that they always touched on: microsoft knows how to ship software, we know how to turn the crank. at the time i thought, yup you're right, microsoft has shipped many versions of windows, office, visual studio... the list goes on and on. for the past 15 years, microsoft has been a software shipping machine and it has become very good at it. my friends at microsoft argued for me to stay so i could absorb this knowledge and learn the "the microsoft way".

but i figured something didn't seem right. in the past few years, everyone's seen microsoft's software shipping machine start to break down - schedules have been slipping, features are getting scaled back and there's the need for a huge patching infrastructure. the system isn't working as well anymore and despite the billg's internet memo years ago, the microsoft machine hasn't reinvented itself at all.

for as much as google is confident, microsoft is stubborn in its ways. they know one way to ship software and it doesn't work as well as it used to. the microsoft way, with its huge milestones and bi-annual releases (if you're lucky), just doesn't jive with the unlimited bandwidth, unlimited memory, unlimited computing power world that is quickly becoming a reality. the future of computing isn't on the desktop, it's on the network.

i remember when i was at microsoft, i'd propose trying new engineering practices: pair programming, unit-test driven development, iterative development. these ideas were shot down quickly and the response was always, "we've been developing software like this for 20 years and look at where we are. $50 billion in the bank, dominance in multiple markets... we're one of the most successful businesses in all of history. why would we change the way we make our bread and butter?"

contrast that to google, where reinvention is almost in its blood. there's no remorse about throwing away dead code; people work however they feel makes them most productive; and now, another critical part is here: there's a product management core that can help harness that creativity and productivity into products the world loves to use.

anyways... enough commentary for today, but i'll leave you with this: while microsoft focuses much of its resources and struggles to meet its deadline for longhorn, google can easily add, enhance, reinvent and distribute products seamlessly through this new computing landscape. in a nutshell, it's the dream of the dot-commers, finally come true.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stanford and MIT. I see you've moved on from revealing overall company strategies to strategies of separate departments (starting from HR). Another great post!

1/27/2005 07:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very interesting read... keep 'em coming!

I get the sense that the Google machine is hungry and Microsoft might be lunch!

1/27/2005 08:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope google collapses and then we shall see who is more arrogant.

1/27/2005 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Gee, Anonymous sounds bitter to me. Love live google.

1/27/2005 09:01:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Or long live google. Love, live. Love to live. Live to love. Whatever.

1/27/2005 09:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lol, stanford and MIT only. Maybe google should use their own search engine and find out that there are more than 2 good colleges in the world.

Different schools brings different way of doing things. Maybe they just too stubborn to change the way they do things so might as well just hire people who will do things their way.

1/27/2005 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

wow... @ least people are showing some emotion, eh?

google seems to be very interesting & exciting from a consumer standpoint, whereas microsoft seems to be a senior citizen with retirement sighted on the horizon :P

1/27/2005 10:34:00 PM  
Blogger Olaf said...

Sign me up. Though, I haven't been to either of the college prerequisites. Come to think of it, I haven't been to *any* college other than my time in training technology instructors. Isn't it ironic, don't you think?

1/28/2005 06:54:00 AM  
Blogger EP said...

Just feedback on a couple things about Google you mentioned:

-- Disruptive technologies. That is what Silicon Valley is about, isn't it? There is nothing like being on the cutting edge, helping to "change the world" - and the financial opportunity, and personal risk, is sweetest closest to _that_ bone.

-- Stanford, MIT, blah, blah, blah. I guess people can not help but "go with what they know", but it's not a robust feature of the homo sapien. Whether it's going with people from your own alam mater, or just people "from top schools", it leaves a lot on the table.

The pride of school is mostly a feature of the young, not the intelligent; more eliticism in a society becoming elitist with a slash and burn judgmental mentality.


Still, it's exciting to know others are intellectually stimulated by the technological and social possibilities.

--> Enjoy Google.

Do great things!

1/29/2005 12:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey man. I just bumped into your blog from a news item at CNet, I think. What a cool blog. I am a Google fan. Chech me out here: and, by the way, I don't think your comments have been a hurt to Google at all. Google is what it is, the sexiest dot com there is. A little frankness from someone on the team in the blogosphere is no hurt, that just is the new world we live in, post-blogs. Keep blogging, I will keep reading.

1/30/2005 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger Jon Burchel said...

Uh.. sorry you lost your job dude, you are just young I guess, but I don't blame Google, though I feel for ya. I mean, you were entirely indiscrete in a public medium, it was not professional at all. Google does rock, too bad you screwed up there. Hope when you find a new job you will learn and not be so indiscrete about the internal affairs of your employer.

2/11/2005 03:20:00 PM  

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