Ex-Google engineer slams company as 'arrogant' and lacking innovation

Steve Yegge says his inspiration has been 'beaten out' of him

A former senior researcher at Google has slammed the company, saying it's no longer innovative and merely chases trends.

Senior staff software engineer Steve Yegge left Google after a career spanning over 10 years, stating in a lengthy blog post that he left because "[Google] can no longer innovate. They've pretty much lost that ability".

Yegge blamed this loss of innovation on four factors. He said that as the company has grown, it has become focused on protecting its existing assets, which has made it conservative and risk-averse.

Politics, he said, was another limiting factor. As one of the largest and most influential tech companies on the face of the planet, Google is heavily involved in political discussions at the highest levels of government  it spent $18 million on political lobbying in 2017. While Yegge noted this is "sort of inevitable" with a company of Google's size and "not necessarily bad", he also pointed out that it has slowed the company down and introduced new problems.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

Yegge also slammed Google's attitude as "arrogant", stating that a sense of corporate invincibility within the company has led to its strategy becoming a mess. He implied that the business has lost touch with customer and that its strategic decision-making has become poor.

"Their attempts at innovation have been confusing and mostly unsuccessful for close to a decade," he said. "Googlers know this is happening and are as frustrated by it as you are, but their leadership is failing them."

However, the biggest and most egregious error that Google has made, in Yegge's eyes, is becoming "100% competitor-focused rather than customer focused". Google's internal incentive structure, he claims, doesn't support a customer-focused attitude, so staff are too busy to make it a priority.

Instead, Yegge says that the company rewards the successful launch of new features and products, and that in order to achieve this, Google simply copies what its rivals are doing.

"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," he said.

"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."

Advertisement - Article continues below

While Yegge praised certain products and initiatives, such as Cloud Spanner, BigQuery, TensorFlow and Waymo as "generational innovations", he blasted the rest of its output, saying that the company's successes "do not excuse nor justify the parade of failed me-too consumer products that Google has been launching of late".

The changes in the company's attitude over Yegge's time at Google, he says, has driven him to take a job at Grab, an Uber competitor based in Southeast Asia.

"In short, Google just isn't a very inspiring place to work anymore. I love being fired up by my work, but Google had gradually beaten it out of me."

IT Pro contacted Google for a response to Yegge's claims, but hadn't received a response at the time of publication.

Featured Resources

Digitally perfecting the supply chain

How new technologies are being leveraged to transform the manufacturing supply chain

Download now

Three keys to maximise application migration and modernisation success

Harness the benefits that modernised applications can offer

Download now

Your enterprise cloud solutions guide

Infrastructure designed to meet your company's IT needs for next-generation cloud applications

Download now

The 3 approaches of Breach and Attack Simulation technologies

A guide to the nuances of BAS, helping you stay one step ahead of cyber criminals

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/cloud/cloud-computing/354479/google-adds-partners-to-real-time-translation-tools
cloud computing

Google adds partners to real-time translation tools

8 Jan 2020
Visit/hardware/354336/the-it-pro-products-of-the-year-2019-all-the-years-best-hardware
Hardware

The IT Pro Products of the Year 2019: All the year’s best hardware

24 Dec 2019
Visit/marketing-comms/search-engine-optimization-seo/354339/google-is-getting-worse-as-it-does-more
search engine optimization (SEO)

Google is getting worse as it does more

21 Dec 2019
Visit/cloud/354231/the-it-pro-podcast-is-the-future-multi-cloud
Cloud

The IT Pro Podcast: Is the future multi-cloud?

29 Nov 2019

Most Popular

Visit/operating-systems/25802/17-windows-10-problems-and-how-to-fix-them
operating systems

17 Windows 10 problems - and how to fix them

13 Jan 2020
Visit/microsoft-windows/32066/what-to-do-if-youre-still-running-windows-7
Microsoft Windows

What to do if you're still running Windows 7

14 Jan 2020
Visit/web-browser/30394/what-is-http-error-503-and-how-do-you-fix-it
web browser

What is HTTP error 503 and how do you fix it?

7 Jan 2020
Visit/business-strategy/mergers-and-acquisitions/354602/xerox-to-nominate-directors-to-hps-board-reports
mergers and acquisitions

Xerox to nominate directors to HP's board – reports

22 Jan 2020