Google Engineer trashes Amazon and Google+ in ACCIDENTAL PUBLIC POST
There's been a lot of talk about Google+ and how it might compete against Facebook, but one Googler accidentally voiced his opinion on the subject last night in a Google+ post that quickly went viral.
Google engineer Steve Yegge posted a lengthy note on Google+ that touched on his days at Amazon (overseen by the "Dread Pirate Bezos"), Google's failure to understand platforms, his concerns about Facebook, how Apple "gets it," and what Google needs to do to excel.
One problem—the post was only supposed to be viewable by Google folks, internally. But Yegge mistakenly made the post public, much to the delight of his followers and the tech community.
After discovering the mistake, Yegge decided to delete the post (though he was not asked to do so by Google) because it was "really a private conversation between me and my peers and co-workers at Google," he wrote in an update post. He also noted that "even now, after six years, I know astoundingly little about Google," so his words should not be taken as gospel.
Thanks to the power of the Google+ share button, however, the entire rant is available on some of his followers' pages. What did Yegge have to say? It's a doozy.
Amazon: You're Doing It Wrong
Yegge started his post with an assessment of Amazon, where he worked for 6.5 years. In a nutshell, "Amazon does everything wrong, and Google does everything right," he wrote. Yegge criticized the company's hiring procedures, operations, charity giving, accommodations, compensation, and what he perceived to be lack of perks. Founder Jeff Bezos, he said, was "an infamous micro-manager" on the level of Steve Jobs, who made "ordinary control freaks look like stoned hippies." (Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.)
"But there's one thing they do really, really well that pretty much makes up for ALL of their political, philosophical and technical screw-ups," Yegge wrote. About a decade ago, Bezos realized that "that Amazon needs to be a platform."
"A product is useless without a platform, or more precisely and accurately, a platform-less product will always be replaced by an equivalent platform-ized product," Yegge wrote.
Google Doesn't Understand Platforms
While Amazon is humming along with its platform development, however, Google doesn't "get" platforms, Yegge said.
"I was kind of hoping that competitive pressure from Microsoft and Amazon and more recently Facebook would make us wake up collectively and start doing universal services," he wrote. "But no. No, it's like our tenth or eleventh priority."
Yegge pointed the finger at Google+, which he said "is a prime example of our complete failure to understand platforms from the very highest levels of executive leadership."
"The Golden Rule of platforms is that you Eat Your Own Dogfood. The Google+ platform is a pathetic afterthought," Yegge continued, pointing to the lack of an API at launch.
Microsoft and Apple both understand the dogfood rule, Yegge said. But "Google+ is a knee-jerk reaction, a study in short-term thinking, predicated on the incorrect notion that Facebook is successful because they built a great product."
Worried About Facebook?
"They worry me," Yegge wrote about Facebook.
"Facebook is successful because they built an entire constellation of products by allowing other people to do the work," he said. "So Facebook is different for everyone."
Google, however, is two steps behind, Yegge argued. "Our Google+ team took a look at the aftermarket and said: 'Gosh, it looks like we need some games. Let's go contract someone to, um, write some games for us.' Do you begin to see how incredibly wrong that thinking is now? The problem is that we are trying to predict what people want and deliver it for them."
Very few people have been able to do that, with Steve Jobs being the exception, Yegge said. "We don't have a Steve Jobs here. I'm sorry, but we don't."
Yegge suggested that Facebook would hire him away from Google, "but Google is home, so I'm insisting that we have this little family intervention, uncomfortable as it might be."
Dramatic Cultural Change
How does Google develop a platform and eat its own dog food? "It will take a dramatic cultural change in order for us to start catching up," Yegge wrote.
"We don't do internal service-oriented platforms, and we just as equally don't do external ones. This means that the 'not getting it' is endemic across the company: the PMs don't get it, the engineers don't get it, the product teams don't get it, nobody gets it," he wrote. "Even if individuals do, even if YOU do, it doesn't matter one bit unless we're treating it as an all-hands-on-deck emergency. We can't keep launching products and pretending we'll turn them into magical beautiful extensible platforms later. We've tried that and it's not working."