Believe it or not, I know Steve. We played foosball together at the Kirkland office. He was an L7 Super Staff engineer when I was still working on my L5 promotion. I also worked with his ex-Grab CTO Theo. Theo was my tech lead in 2009.

I get the pains of deprecations. You know we have to deal with them internally at Google too, right? I did the math and my team spends 40% of our time on tech debt. :-(

Sadly, platforms is not in our DNA. Larry Page said at TGIF that Google is a product company, not a platform company. With that, we gave away the cloud business to AWS. Steve explained in one of his YouTube videos that Google's cloud business is not user-centric enough. (I think it’s the video he deleted)

I had a front seat on the Chat/Video teams and saw exactly the same thing. I was there through GTalk, Hangouts, Allo, Duo, Messenger, Chat, and Meet. In fact, my team was responsible for the final GTalk shutdown in 2019. Deprecations are twice as difficult as launching new products. My team spent a lot effort making the process as smooth as possible.

IMO, Google’s promo process values creating new shiny things rather than maintaining and improving the old one. Every new chat/video product and deprecation is essentially one or more org changes and eng/PM leadership changes. And with that, we lost continuity and gave away both the Chat and Video businesses.

Perhaps a better way to define "engineering-centric" and "product-centric" mindsets is "user-centric" and "promo-centric". Believe it or not, there are Google engineers who are user-centric, but they are losing out to the "promo-centric" engineers and PMs.

Until Google changes its promo culture, not much will change.


25 years in tech | 13 years @ Google | 9+ years Tesla Investor | |

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