When you see the pictures of any of Google’s worldwide offices, it’s easy to be taken in. The swings, hi-tech napping pods and robot butlers make Google look like the world’s most perfect employer – and that’s before you hear about the company’s commitment to giving employees the freedom to innovate.
But your daydreams of the Google wonder-job may be a fair way from the truth, according to the claims of a disgruntled ex-employee who recently jumped ship.
Software engineer James Whittaker joined the search engine giants in 2009, but quit earlier this year to return to his former employers Microsoft. And he says that his reasons are all due to a single man and his ideas. The man is Larry Page, who replaced former CEO Eric Schmidt in January of 2011.
Whittaker claims that under Page’s leadership, the company’s entire focus has changed – going from a company that wanted to provide great user experiences to a company that wanted to sell adverts:
The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus.
Whittaker places the blame for this change in the company’s focus squarely on Larry Page’s shoulders, citing the new CEO’s obsession with defeating Facebook as a reason. And he doesn’t hold back when it comes to savaging Google+ and its ham-fisted integration with every other Google product:
Social became state-owned, a corporate mandate called Google+. It was an ominous name invoking the feeling that Google alone wasn’t enough. Search had to be social. Android had to be social. You Tube, once joyous in their independence, had to be … well, you get the point.
A user exodus from Facebook never materialized. I couldn’t even get my own teenage daughter to look at Google+ twice, “social isn’t a product,” she told me after I gave her a demo, “social is people and the people are on Facebook.”
The tech press have seized on this blog post as proof that Google’s new direction is wrong for the company, but as yesterday’s search engine market share data shows, Google is still the runaway leader in the world of search.
But could a move towards less relevant advertising content, backed-up by a shoehorned in social network really turn people away from Google? How far does Larry Page’s new vision have to go before you pack it all in and head to Blekko or Bing?
We’d like to know, so share your thoughts in the comments section below.