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Google engineer of 13 years resigns, says company “can no longer innovate”

“Their attempts at innovation have been confusing and mostly unsuccessful for close to a decade.“

Published onJanuary 25, 2018

  • Google engineer Steve Yegge has left the company after 13 years, citing its failure to innovate as one of the reasons for his departure.
  • Yegge says Google has become “100% competitor-focused,” relying on copying other products rather than pursuing new ideas.
  • Yegge maintains that the company is a great place to work, but that it’s no longer an “inspiring” place to work.

A Google engineer who exited the company on Wednesday has published a blog post (via CNBC) outlining his thoughts on some of its failings. Steve Yegge left Google after 13 years, stating the main reason for his departure was that it “can no longer innovate.”

Yegge outlines several ways in which he has observed this. He accuses Google of being “conservative,” focusing on preserving what it has rather than delivering something fresh. “Gatekeeping and risk aversion at Google are the norm rather the exception,” he wrote.

Yegge also suggests internal politics (though he says this is “inevitable with a large enough organization”) and collective arrogance were to blame for its lack of innovation. But what he sees as the biggest issue is that “Google has become 100% competitor-focused rather than customer focused.”

You can look at Google’s entire portfolio of launches over the past decade, and trace nearly all of them to copying a competitor: Google+ (Facebook), Google Cloud (AWS), Google Home (Amazon Echo), Allo (WhatsApp), Android Instant Apps (Facebook, WeChat), Google Assistant (Apple/Siri), and on and on and on.

Though Yegge has a history of bitter feelings towards Google—in 2011, Yegge made disparaging comments about the company in an internal Google+ post that was accidentally published publicly—the thrust of his argument may strike a chord even with die-hard fans. Few would deny that a number of “major” announcements from the company in recent years have either been underwhelming from the outset (Allo), or haven’t amounted to much (Android Wear).

Despite this, Yegge does concede that Google is “one of the very best places to work on Earth,” but that it just “isn’t a very inspiring place to work anymore.”

You can read the full Medium post here, and tell us if you think Google has lost its ability to innovate in the comments.

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