Friday, February 11, 2005

the official story, straight from the source

i know it's been quite a while since anything substantial was posted on my blog, but thanks for bearing with me. as i said in my previous post, it's been a hectic two weeks. i've finally finished thinking through a few things so here it is...

on january 28th, 2005, i was terminated from google. either directly or indirectly, my blog was the reason. this came as a great shock to me because two days ago we had looked at my blog and removed all inappropriate content - the comments on financial performance and future products. for my next entries, i was very cognizant of my blogging content, making sure to stay away from these topics. i mean, as much as i like to be open and honest about communicating to users and customers, i'm not insubordinate. if i was told to shut down this blog, i would have.

as scoble says, i should've waited a little longer and felt the company out a bit more before i started blogging at length. in retrospect, that is good advice and a lesson learned. i was just too excited. i felt like i was joining a small start-up family; i thought i was going to start new initiatives and improve existing ones; i thought i could jump in the deep end and immerse myself in the revolutionary development environment; i thought i could make connections to real people in the outside world and get first hand feedback; i thought google would love it. i thought wrong.

i've actually viewed this as a great learning experience. obviously, i've gotten a first-hand chance to learn about the power of blogging. i've also learned to be a little more analytical about situations, a lot more cautious and a lot less assuming. however, i've also confirmed that i'm willing to take a stand for what i believe in. i've confirmed what i'm looking for in a career and i know what i love to do - by the way, it's not blogging, it's creating revolutionary solutions :). some people live a lifetime without getting a chance to learn these things about themselves; i'm grateful i've gotten that chance.

people ask me if i'm bitter. funny thing is, despite all this, at the end of the day, i can see where google is coming from - but i don't agree with their stances and i wish they had executed a little differently. i think blogging is the next big thing on the internet. the web gave people revolutionary access to information; email and instant messaging disrupted the way people communicate with each other; blogging empowers everyone to create new information and connect in a community. it’s the culmination of lots of the progress that has happened on the internet rolled into one huge, powerful, killer app. corporations should embrace this technology just like the ones before it. companies that are confident in their offerings should let employees spread the word. in today's age of information overload, blogging is quickly emerging as the fastest and most cost-effective method of marketing.

finally, for all those in the evil/not evil argument, realize that google is a public, for-profit company. i do not believe google is either evil or good. companies take what they feel are logical steps in doing business, and business isn't always fair.

thanks for reading! oh, and if you’re looking for a talented technical project/product/program manager, i guess i’m on the market now. if you have a corporate blogging policy, i promise i’ll follow it. i’ll use proper capitalization in my specs too :).


Blogger f said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2/11/2005 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger John Lewis said...

If only elected officials, CEOs, and others could exhibit the same introspection and attendant humility as Jen when they make mistakes, the world would be a smarter and better place. Happy landing, Mark.

2/11/2005 10:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You also made it all the way across the ocean to ComputerWorld in Denmark. Google
Fyrer Blogger
Wish you all the best in the future

2/11/2005 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

what exactly are revolutionary solutions?

2/11/2005 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger chunkybacon said...

good luck with your job search Mark! hope it works out.

2/11/2005 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger -- said...

You could argue endlessly whether they were right or wrong in sacking you, but I still don't think they'd done this had they not felt something 'bad' being done against their philosophy on what goes out live on the net or not.

I'm not blaming you here or anything, but their 'reply' wasn't totally unexpected, I must say..

2/11/2005 12:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck!

The question I have is whether or not you'll keep a blog on Google-owned Blogger or move to a different blog company.

2/11/2005 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger Justin said...

"blogging is quickly emerging as the fastest and most cost-effective method of marketing."

cost-effective? definitely. effective? don't fool yourself, this is still a microcorner we're communicating in.

2/11/2005 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger paparatti said...

Good luck Mark. You'll stay on my RSS feed for a while yet, so keep us updated as to what's going on.

2/11/2005 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger hey OK said...

google can claim to be happy, energetic, and innovative in their cute little minimal page design and controlled press releases and PR junk they schill out; but at the end of the day they are just like any big, heartless, greedy, despondent Fortune 500 company. They don't give a fuck, money is the bottom line. You are just a tool like the rest of them. To believe otherwise is foolish.

2/11/2005 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger alekkomar said...

Great followup post Mark - I agree with JL that good introspection and humility - corporate chief's could learn from you on that.

Someone above mentioned Washington Post and other media outlets - looks like you are in quite a few places according to Google News.Keep us posted on what you end up doing and hang in there! ;-)

2/11/2005 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger leknows said...

At least they let you keep your blogger address.....

2/11/2005 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger Dimitar Vesselinov said...

The Wisdom of Warren Buffett
What should we learn from Warren Buffett?

1. Be Grateful
2. Be Ethical & Fair
3. Be Trustworthy
4. Invest in Your Cirle of Competence
5. Do What You Love

The Wisdom of Warren Buffett

2/11/2005 03:13:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Man, all I have to say is keep your head up. I think you deserve blog of the day today too. I think all of your supporters should click on your adsense ads everyday. Of course, we'd be giving google more money, but we'd be giving charity money too. Well anyway, you can see your blog of the day post at

2/11/2005 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

I've been following your blog for awhile, and even though I feel sorry for you, I think you were too ungrateful.

Of course a company wants to keep you happy so you can be more productive. Of course a company gives free lunch to save the employees time, and benefit from that. Why else would they do that? Did you expect a company to feed you and let you lie around? Google admitted in 60 Minutes that the free lunch makes employees more productive because they usually go back to their desk after eating. So we have it. It is a great thing for both sides, how could you possibly whine about that?

All that "analyzing" makes me feel that you are very ungrateful. No company is perfect, but Google is pretty darn good.

2/11/2005 06:57:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

so, when do we get to hear the dirty about what really happened... like tmax mentioned, we want the STORY!!

heh... good luck for the future bro


2/11/2005 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger Prince Roy said...

of course the most ironic thing of all is that google bought blogger a while back...

2/11/2005 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I am surprised that Google did this. If some airline fires an employee for blogging that would be understandable. But when a company that has a blogging tool as one of its products fires an employee for blogging that's a little surprising. Google could have and should have handled this better. Especially given their "do no evil" motto. The contents of the blogs themselves were not all that wrong -- most google employees are probably discussing such matters with friends. The difference here was that this was public. That's the only difference. And by firing someone for that Google is telling us that blogging is dangerous. If so Google should add a warning to that effect on blogspot's homepage. Blogging is new, and people are still getting used to it and experimenting with it. People make mistakes. The company behind blogspot shouldn't have fired an employee for one of those mistakes.

I don't trust Google to do no evil any more.

2/11/2005 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger Todd said...

yeah!!!! i got my name on this blog!

2/11/2005 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger Becca said...

How unfair, now i want to boycott Google.

2/11/2005 10:02:00 PM  
Blogger David Rodecker said...

Mark; after my last post my email box filled up -- take it easy guys; I'm not openly recruiting!

Mr. Jen, I'd like to discuss bringing your talent into a ground-breaking opportunity in the high-tech online industry.

Like I said before, persons of your talent, creativity, through-provoking, disruptive, yet ingenious wit would be significantly better utilized in a aggresive, fresh environment. Hopefully the spam won't overwhelm the account this time!

2/11/2005 11:08:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Lucovsky, Software Engineer said...

Good luck mark. Sorry to see you leave us.


2/12/2005 12:28:00 AM  
Blogger Massimo said...

good luck! nice to see how cool you are about all this story. I hope they're as cool as you are about it at mountain view :-)

2/12/2005 02:16:00 AM  
Blogger Pyramis said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2/12/2005 02:30:00 AM  
Blogger Pyramis said...

Hey Mark, I wrote you a letter over at Mind Mob about how to turn your recent experience into a little revolution of its own.

2/12/2005 03:42:00 AM  
Blogger Sunil said...

I think it won't take long time for Google to steal some hatred from web users that they have for Microsoft.

Btw now where are you planning to? Yahoo?

2/12/2005 04:36:00 AM  
Blogger Reta said...

sorry to hear what happened but nowdays you hear stories here even in Malaysia that employees getting sacked for blogging bout their company..scary! anonymous may be more safer?

2/12/2005 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger Austin Sloan said...

That's too bad Google took this path. They have lost some credibility and homor in my view. They can resolve this issue by rehiring you but any other path will leave them with pie ono their face. They are promoting bloggin but yet when one of their own does it, they fire them. They should be trying to protect the rights of everyone to blog. I can see that who ever gave the order to fire Mark must be an idiot and doesn't have any idea about blogging. Google would do better to fire that person and rehire Mark. Google you were a company we all looked up to until now. Resolve the situation, don't make us have to boycott you.


2/12/2005 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger Erwyn said...

Of course the free lunches are a cynical ploy! A company's main goal is to make money. Increased productivity makes money, and free lunches increase productivity. I would take advantage of free lunches, but I would probably end up unhappy working for Google or any other company because being around people for 8+ hours a day is just way too much.

2/12/2005 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Cedric Satterfield said...

Many of these posts demonstrate the painful naivete of people who think that just because they have a somewhat anonymous communication tool that its some sort of new revolution. I can't believe that anyone with a 1/2 cent of reality would look at this with anything less than pity. Youve 'worked' in the tech industry long enough to know what an NDA is. How could you not think that Google wouldnt trow their own blog system for words like "google", " microsoft", " Adsense fraud" whatever?

For the rest of you Che Guevera types, grow up. This has nothing to do with corportate greed. This is the way REAL jobs expect you to act and to be accountable. You bit the hand that feeds you youre going to be eating TV dinners by yourself. If you don't like it, be the next startup and change things. But don't whine when someone gets canned for being stupid-I wouldnt want him working for me either.

I guarantee Uncle Sam would teach him a few things about loyalty, duty, following the rules.

2/12/2005 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger Me said...

I see where your coming from. Google denied my application to run there ads on my pages. It's probably a good thing, since they take away a lot from the experience of web-browsing. You can't go around kissing ass all the time either, Screw them and do what's right for you.

2/12/2005 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Why didn't you mention in your blog post that you used your position in the AdSense division to use the keyword "google" in the ad for your blog when that was against the rules?

2/12/2005 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger zoointhesky said...

Bummer dude. I enjoyed reading what you had to say in your posts - it's interesting to hear how people get on in these "high-profile" companies such as Google. I've had a few opportunities to join a high-profile company, but each one got the axe for some reason or another.

But let's face it, you got burnt playing with the big boys. As for free speech, open discussion, and information for all - I say bollocks to that - you knew the rules. If it's in the public interest (i.e. it affects one's way of living) then, yes, argue away. If it's intellectual property, trade secrets, etc. keep it to yourself.

That said, I'm surprised Google gave you the axe first time round. I figured they would have at least sent you to the headmaster's office for an official warning, or sent you to your room without any supper/free lunch, before wielding the axe. Think of it this way: They must have felt threatened... Doesn't that just make your heart pump lumpy custartd?

Google. Goggle. Gurgle. Hang in there.

2/12/2005 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Mark Jen has yet to clarify the story. He has yet to admit that he was fired because of breaking the AdSense rules.

2/12/2005 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Just because they gave him a reason unrelated to his blog doesn't mean his blog wasn't the real reason.

2/12/2005 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger Dongming Lu said...

At least you are smart enough to feed some 'Google Ads' on your blog, and hope these exposures (I saw this on will be some good consolation.

Good luck.

2/12/2005 08:38:00 PM  
Blogger Eric said...


Good luck, man!

2/13/2005 01:23:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Mark,

I must say I understand googles reasons for getting you fired. If I were google I would be soryy to get you the job in the first place. Posting something on the net is not just talking to someone in private. What about loyalty to a company. Strange that I say something like that. Cause I believe in ethical behavior. And if a company does not behave like it, than we should speek out, or we have to. But to round it up, it seems you are very self oriented. Good luck anyway.

2/13/2005 08:23:00 AM  
Blogger Harjot said...

Seems too naive to be true.

2/13/2005 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Alan H. said...

Your blog has been great. I'm wondering what post got you in trouble. For me, this brings up an interesting point about blogs. It's supposed to be a somewhat private forum for people to express their thoughts. Given that, it's also a public forum accessible to anyone, made more public by powerful search engines such as Google. What degree of freedom do you have to say what you want without worrying about repurcussions (given that the posts are not offering competitive/secret information)?

A project manager that I've worked with shared her lessons learned with me about corporate e-mails: keep them bland and non-offensive -- you never who your e-mails will be forwarded to. How much does this advice apply to blogging about one's job? You're applying your thoughts to text, so they leave an incriminating trail, unlike blowing off steam at the watercooler. I'd love to start a blog about my job and my industry, but I'm still thinking about lessons learned from your experiences.

In any case, I enjoyed the read.

2/13/2005 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Mark, I really want to know why you are not clarifying your story regarding the AdSense ad you put up for your blog which used the keyword "google" in the description, when that was clearly against the rules?

I think you owe everyone an explanation for this. If this is indeed true, and that you are still not willing to admit that you got terminated for circumventing Google corporate policy regarding AdSense, it shows that you have poor character.

Please explain this the AdSense questions.

2/13/2005 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger alekkomar said...

I noticed a couple of comments have asked/challenged Mark about him running Adsense on his web page - I'm not an expert on this (just a (very) small-time publisher), but it all looks on the up-and-up to me ... heck, what's wrong with him running this, and he was upfront when he turned it on - see his Feb 9th post.

Speaking of which, I Emailed Mark shortly after that posting where he says "I've added adsense to my website on the sidebar. don't worry, all proceeds will be going to charity :)." and among other things, I mentioned that if he didn't have a "good" charity, please consider celiac disease (my kids have this) ... and he responded fairly promptly saying that since I was the first to ask, he'd send some $$$ that way ... which I thought was very, very cool.

2/13/2005 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger Bindu Reddy said...

Good luck. Mark. I hope you get a job shortly!

2/13/2005 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

If Mark was fired because his Adsense ad broke some rule then that would be not much different than if he got fired for parking his car illegally. That's a silly reason, and if true it indicates ingeniousness (or evilness) on the part of google. Chances are, the real reason is the one in plain view (occam's razor etc)!

2/13/2005 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger Todd said...

yeah!!!! i got my name on this blog again!

2/14/2005 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger naitsirhC said...

Muchas Suerte. El poder de la informacion y creo que algunos miedos estupidos de parte de Google.

The Power of the information and some fear of Google. Fear about???

2/14/2005 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Algunas veces conviene mantener la boca cerrada----

2/14/2005 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger John Blue said...

Hummm, What did your NDA actually say and compare that to your actions and information posted to your blog.... You might find that there was something there about revealing company sensitive information is against a company policy. While many would say that what you released would not hurt Google, it is a legal document and is enforceable. Hope you do better next time. Good luck.

2/14/2005 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger Syngin said...

Hey, I came across your story on CNN's Money site:

2/16/2005 04:13:00 AM  
Blogger An Investor said...

Wow! It seems to me that everyone has missed the point completely. Or, maybe it's just me. :)

What specific content did GOOG make Mr. Jen take down? The financial information he got at the internal sales meeting. Not the complaints about what team he did or didn't make, compensation/benefit discussions, or stories about blowing off HR. It was the "inside" information he was privy to as an employee of GOOG -- that he then posted on his blog.

I guess not everyone is aware that there are federal regulations that govern what people can and can't say
publicly about "material, on-public" information. It has nothing to do with being able to freely express
oneself in a personal blog. It's about the law -- and the law says, "Don't do it." Saying what he said on his blog a week before GOOG was to release earnings...I can only imagine the reaction of GOOG's
senior management and lawyers when they saw it -- especially given the problems they had with improper
disclosures prior to the GOOG IPO.

Of course, I could be wrong and he really may have been let go because of all of the other things he posted in his blog. But, those things are still in his blog -- they didn't make him remove them. The "inside"
information is not -- they made him remove that.

2/16/2005 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger RNS said...

Wow. The ironies of your situation are many. Sorry to hear you learned this particular lesson about the realities of working for mulibillion dollar, publicly owned companies - the hard way.

But it sounds like you did indeed learn the lesson and your career should continue to progress just fine. After all, you lived to tell about it and as a bonus have practically become a folk hero in the process. And it sounds like you've made no enemies in the process, a major plus. And you seem to be treating this as merely something that happened, not as a badge you wear on your sleeve.

Google's loss, though clearly understandably from their perspective, will no doubt become another company's gain. I believe you will land on your feet within the next couple of weeks and won't miss a beat.

2/17/2005 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger Ronald Allan said...

Ey. Assuming that what you posted was unconfidential or unproprietary, you should be admired for your willingness to express yourself. For what it's worth, blogging and the internet are very powerful tools...I'm sure you agree...that have to be used responsibly. If in case you did something improper...I guess that's something we all can learn from. You may have gotten a bum deal from Google, but you probably got more in return...Good luck man.

2/26/2005 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/06/2005 10:43:00 PM  
Blogger 40something said...

bored at work, I typed in 'What the f*** have Google done to their logo?' and hit I'm feeling lucky. It bought me to this page: and the amazing thing is, I use exactly the same template and colour scheme for my blog!

Anyway, I work in a place where we're told from the outset not to write about the organisation in our blogs - and we have an internal blogging system if anyone feels the desperate need to blog about the organisation.

Funnily enough, my university tried to bring disciplinary charges against me for writing about them online when I was a student, back in 1995... I seem to remember I was charged £25 for bringing the university reputation into question. I'm amazed you're not bitter, Professor Michael Wright is forever a marked man in my eyes now...

6/08/2005 08:40:00 AM  

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