Google isn't Google anymore. Something has shifted from hip and happening to stale, dull and corporate.
Larry and Sergey's brand is increasingly performing a "one of us" act that's harder to pull off than members of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour pretending to be as poor as you and I are.
I Can't Be Wrong
If you think I'm just dumping on a company for no apparent reason -- think again.
The "umph" is gone, the "wow!" is out of the door now that the big bucks are streaming in.
It's not just me, it's not just you -- it's the Google core feeling that way.
They Find Google BoringIn July (2007) Jason Shellen, the guy who came up with Google Reader (the #1 feed reader...), left Google because he feels he's got "that entrepreneurial/start-up bug deep within me and I can't help but think about the next thing".
Days later Pedram Keyani, Orkut engineer, leaves "in search of new challenges and risks".
In September (2007), Adam Bosworth, vice-president engineering in charge of Google Health, leaves because he "started a new company".
October sees Benjamin Ling (product-management director overseeing stuff like Google Checkout and Google SMS) go to Facebook, Salman Ullah (director of corporate development) leave to start his own venture firm, and Ema "PR" Linaker jump to Spinvox.
Gokul Rajaram (product manager but better known as the "godfather" of Adsense) starts his own company. Says he misses the feeling of a startup environment.
Chris Sacca (head of special initiatives, hard to replace), leaves to invest in early-stage technology companies.
Nathan Stoll (product manager Google news) leaves to start a "venture of my own in San Francisco".
Kevin Fox, interface designer of Google Calendar, Gmail and the current look and feel of Google Reader, leaves Google behind to go work for "a very small start-up" while acknowledging that...
"...it's strange to have found success there and yet feel a need for greater fulfillment sufficient to pull you away from what's generally recognized as the best workplace in America"
The Thrill Is Gone
Play pool, brave the rock climbing wall, swim, play beach volleyball, enjoy a massage chair, sweat at the gym, eat at anyone of the 11 gourmet cafetarias, use an on-site hair stylist, use the free detergent in the free washers/dryers, bring your pet to work...
All that, and much more, is in a day's work at Google.
To that the 10 people listed above say "nah, not needed, not interested".
Without fail they start their own small company or move to one.
Without fail they compliment what Google offers but list the challenge of doing something new as one of the main reasons to move on.
They were on the other side of our boredom.
Where are the days of looking at the index size? Looking out for signs of the Google Dance? The next toolbar export? Matt's next statement to take apart? Google's latest product that's too cool to play with (have you seen their Google Shared Stuff?!?!?!)
Fortune Magazine listed retirement and startups as Google's twin demons.
I think Google is at an age where it's feeding the demons. Inside -- and out.