Steve Yegge, a programmer who spent over a decade with Google, has recently left the company to take a job with Singapore-based ride-hailing app Grab. On his way out he dropped a bombshell Medium post outlining a few reasons he left Google, including this: “probably worst of all, Google has become 100% competitor-focused rather than customer focused.”
Specifically, Yegge charges Google with copying competitors’ products, including the social app WeChat made by Chinese company Tencent:
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. They are stuck in me-too mode and have been for years. They simply don’t have innovation in their DNA any more. And it’s because their eyes are fixed on their competitors, not their customers.
Oof. Yegge tempered his words with a followup post today, clarifying the point that “Google doesn’t necessarily need innovation”, but doubling down on his appreciation for tech innovation in Asia:
Some people have responded negatively to my post’s tone, because we Westerners (especially in the tech industry) are pretty jaded. My post was a reflection of the experience I had last week in Jakarta, which is a world so different as to be almost something out of the movies. Unless you’ve been there yourself, it’s hard to appreciate how big this disruptor is.
Read Yegge’s initial post here, and his followup here.
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