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Steve Yegge - Long Time Googler Leaves Google

With Scathing Blog Post - Google is a Cluster

     
4:25 pm on Jan 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Best stunning quotes from Steve Yegge's blog post [medium.com].


The main reason I left Google is that they can no longer innovate.
...they're conservative: They are so focused on protecting what they've got, that they fear risk-taking and real innovation.

Second, they are mired in politics,

Third, Google is arrogant. ... loss of touch with customers, poor strategic decision-making.

Forth, Google has become 100% competitor-focused rather than customer focused.

[google] Picks unwinnable fights and then trying to force their product on us (e.g. Google+), launching products that are universally panned (e.g. Allo), deprecating and turning down well-loved services (e.g. Reader, Hangouts), launching official APIs with competing and incompatible frameworks (e.g. gRPC vs. REST), launching obviously competing stacks that don't talk to each other (e.g. Android native vs. Dart/Flutter), etc. Their attempts at innovation have been confusing and mostly unsuccessful for close to a decade. Googlers know this is happening and are as frustrated by it as you are, but their leadership is failing them.
4:54 pm on Jan 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like what usually happens when a small startup turns into a giant. its not going to be the same sort of place to work it, and a lot of big companies are like this (especially in tech and related areas)>
7:41 pm on Jan 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Makes a compelling argument about Google having lost its way as an innovator and becoming a follower.
8:01 pm on Jan 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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They don't need to innovate anymore. They can buy innovation rather than doing it themselves.
9:41 pm on Jan 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Just read his entire post. In a nutshell he's joining a startup that will exploit blue collar workers to deliver food to white collar workers like himself, at the lowest possible dollar.

He talks about revolutionizing life as we know it but it's not. He talks about how southeast Asians love food in a way that westerners can't understand. But love of food has everything to do with cooking it, planning it, it's a communal thing. That's why it's what he calls a cultural thing in South East Asia. The irony is that it flies way over his head that his startup, Grab, a food delivery service, takes the JOY out of cooking and food, which to him, a westerner is fine because he doesn't understand food (that's the irony).

There is nothing revolutionary about an app for people who can't be bothered to enjoy the pleasure of cooking or taking a drive to a restaurant to sit down and enjoy a meal.

He's a loser.
10:18 pm on Jan 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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this guy is in a privileged position like many of the silicon valley folks. they seem to be speaking out a lot these days, preferably in blog posts and public talks. thereby just promoting their next business.

you have to be able to afford this kind of impertinence against your ex-employer that presumably made you a rich man. he really might have some valid points, but most would consider this a bad style at least. for my taste too arrogant and out of touch.

[edited by: moTi at 10:24 pm (utc) on Jan 24, 2018]

10:21 pm on Jan 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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And There is nothing revolutionary about your inability to see a see of change coming in home consumer services MB.

They said the same about UPS in the 40's when they started home delivery of packages in earnest.
In the 50's, there were so many home services startups. How about "dry cleaning". (the horror of letting some one else do your laundry!)
They said the same thing about lawn care service in the 60's (end of the world when a homeowner can't be bothered to mow their own yard).
They said the same about home cleaning services in the 70' (oh dear, it is so immoral for mom to go to work and then hire a house keeper - story after story about this in big publications like Time and later NewsWeek (iircc there was a story about the death of home life as the greatest threat to America since the bomb in one of them)).
What about Home Milk delivery? Good God man, can't you milk your own cow?

Fact is, all these things - and a dozen other home services - are super inconvenient. So is figuring out what to eat after the end of a day. Traditional / nontraditional families alike go through the same issue every night, "whats for dinner".
  • Local restaurants are failing like flies - they simply can justify the cost of owning a restaurant. Most of these things have life spans in communities. The restaurant churn in most cities is on a 3 to 5 year scale. Food trucks rose up not because people want to eat at a roach coach - they rose up because they offer fresh alternatives that were never available in local restaurants because the locals had "burned out" on the food.
  • Few families have time to set down for a proper meal most nights. Mom works 10yrs a day. Dads (if there is one), works 10 hrs a day. No one has the energy to cook when they get home.
  • American is obese. Part of that is poor eating habits and eating out.
  • Ever hear of Dine-in-Out? Yep - get a meal from any restaurant in your town.
  • We have heard of many friends hiring chefs to come cooks meals in there home. We had a home party and had custom servers from dining services come watch over the meal. Very common.
  • Ever hear of home Pizza delivery (OMG - say it aint so!)
  • How about HelloFresh?


A hundred years from now - no one will cook. Just because there is a ritualized and romanticized "evening meal" now, doesn't mean it is going to last.

What Grab is doing, is nothing that hasn't been done already (dine-in-out, uber...etal). Revolutionary? Nah - hardly. Yesterdays news.

The only interesting thing in the blog post is what he has to say about Google.
10:25 pm on Jan 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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>you have to be able to afford this kind of impertinence against your ex-employer

Oh, he did it while he was at google as well. Remember when he dropped this beauty on Google+
[plus.google.com...]
10:30 pm on Jan 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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from the Google Plus post Brett mentions.. "is that Amazon does everything wrong" ... well, he really called that one ;)
10:40 pm on Jan 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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>"is that Amazon does everything wrong" ... well, he really called that one

Yes he did. He was using it to show that even if you do all the programming wrong - if it talks to one another on a common level (eg: a platform of services), it doesn't matter.

Meanwhile, Google does all their dev "right" by the book, but it is all silo'd code (It works with nothing but itself).
11:26 pm on Jan 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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How much distance from humanity and family must one travel to stand so far outside of reality that the following begins to make sense?

Westerners have all these stuffy conventions about not staring into your smartphone while you’re eating with your family, or out having fun with friends...
11:51 pm on Jan 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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We have heard of many friends hiring chefs to come cooks meals in there home. We had a home party and had custom servers from dining services come watch over the meal. Very common.


The average income earner in the USA, hiring a chef to cook meals in their home, and/or custom servers for a party is something they simply cannot afford. Not at all common for most people.
12:21 am on Jan 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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How much distance from humanity and family must one travel to stand so far outside of reality that the following begins to make sense?


About a decade+ ago, IBM introduced the concept of PAN (personal area networks). We have a revolutionary stealth app based around those concepts that allows you to IM people who are within 10 meters of you. It also has some nifty augmented near-reality features like a look-up swipe tab.

Revolutionary stuff that allows us people in Asia to communicate with each other while on dates, hanging out with friends or at the dinner table.

I've heard from the CTO of this app, that they're working with some top level chinese manufacturers to build a API driven spork into their phones.
12:47 am on Jan 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Shri!
Yes!
:)
3:11 am on Jan 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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>custom servers for a party is something they simply cannot afford.

Actually, it isn't that bad. Some are as cheap as $15 an hour. You can get decent chef pretty easily around where I am. Felt good to employee people who would not otherwise have work at that time.

> exploitation

You are on mars or drinking.. Giving uber drivers more work - probably raise their hourly wage? Giving people who don't have work - some extra work cooking in their home? If you think that is "exploitation' then we know where you stand on capitalism. Try moving to China, Russia or even Vietnam.
3:32 am on Jan 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Who gives a crap about his startup and why are all the posts here regarding that? He's sharing some insight about Google and having worked there, yet people blab about irrelevant aspects of his post. It's a Google forum here so why are we talking about his startup? Off topic hardly describes it. Or is that part of discrediting his views on Google in the first part of the article? His comments are shallow at best regarding Google. The fact that as he point out Google launches everything in response to its competitors is an obvious point. He's saying Google is a great place to work and then he mentions a lot of negativity. It's hilarious that this discussion is focused on everything EXCEPT for what he said about Google. Not much to see here. Clearly. Or maybe this blog post should have been buried for nobody to see and thus keep the purity alive and well.
4:39 am on Jan 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Try moving to China...


Why move when people like Steve Yegge are working hard to turn America into China, where the hours are long and the pay is low.

Houston drivers are commuting to Austin rather than work for Uber [money.cnn.com]

Uber was squeezing these people like Plantation Lords on poor sharecroppers. It took a non-profit, Ride Austin, to bring fair wages.

"I thank god that Ride Austin and Fasten came aboard," said Yerica Garcia, who resorted to driving for the Austin ridesharing services last summer after one of her vehicles was repossessed. "If it was Uber, I would lose my house too."

Garcia fell thousands of dollars behind on her mortgage last year. She blamed Uber for lowering prices and changing its commission split in Houston, which made it difficult to provide for her three children under the age of 10.


This has EVERYTHING to do with Google
Why move to China? The Tech Barons are bringing it to America. The exploitation is exactly the same. I'm not making this stuff up. It's the truth. It's in the news every day.

Google has lost it's way and people like Steve Yegge are the poster boys of it. How can Google claim to serve the user when those in control are hopelessly out of touch? Think those data logs are helping them? I don't think so. Out of touch.

How can Google innovate and stay relevant when the people in charge up and down the line are so out of touch?

;)

[edited by: martinibuster at 5:15 am (utc) on Jan 25, 2018]

5:01 am on Jan 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Westerners have all these stuffy conventions
Er, I think he was being satirical. It is hardly earth-shaking news that different cultures have different rules of etiquette.

Just don't stray too far from SEA, or you'll be stepping on a lot of established daba-wallahs' toes, possibly literally.
6:50 am on Jan 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Brett, I spent 30 Years in the States, (East cost), I know very well culinary trends (my field), in the US a few people are starting to hire a chef for cooking demo/instructions. It might looks like a hobby, but the reason is cost of a meal and better health.
Back in FR, yes even there, families pay for cooking instructions, they feel like they are missing what grandma knew.
Perhaps, home cooking and family sit down at dinner time is not dead (at least not yet).
8:19 am on Jan 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I was wondering what that Allo app was doing on my phone (pre-installed)... and then I uninstalled it.
10:42 am on Jan 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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ust read his entire post. In a nutshell he's joining a startup that will exploit blue collar workers to deliver food to white collar workers like himself, at the lowest possible dollar.


He also wants to create the dominant company in a "winner takes all" market where network effects mean you end up with a monopoly. He wants to go one step worse than Google.

You are on mars or drinking


I wonder how the site admins would react if anyone else started making insulting comments like that?

Giving uber drivers more work - probably raise their hourly wage?


The problem is that you are also giving money to a very sleazy company. Uber has system to avoid regulators (they track phone numbers likely to be used by investigators and refuse to sell them rides). It has special software and procedures to deal with police raids. What sort of business needs that?

You would do more for the drivers by giving the work to a law abiding business.
11:20 am on Jan 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I wonder how the site admins would react if anyone else started making insulting comments like that?

To be fair, MB is also part of the hierarchy. And even if he wasn't, he's pretty robust in his own comments. "Robust" here heading towards being euphemistic.

RE: Uber. I think it is a great concept, but a terrible company. For a long while, I was waiting for an App developer to create an Uber-like platform, but be co-operatively owned by the drivers. That way, it would have all the convenience and (I assumed, but see below) low costs of Uber, but drivers set their own pay and conditions and keep any additional profit.

What I didn't realise is that the perception of cheapness is actually an artificial construct. VC cash is what reduces the fare prices, as a direct subsidy. Turns out that the main costs in Private Hire companies are the taxis/drivers themselves. The booking centre is a low percentage overhead.

Uber is using loss-leader methodology to displace existing private hire companies. Once they displace the incumbents, they will jack up the prices to at least the same as historic, to pay back the years of loss-making subsidies.
6:22 pm on Jan 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I think it is a great concept, but a terrible company
You and Steve both.
So what is Grab? Well, the simple and unsatisfying answer is: They’re the Uber of Southeast Asia. But that’s a terrible marketing message, because Uber is trying their best to become the most hated company in the U.S. It’s like touting them as the Comcast of Southeast Asia.

In any case, I don't perfectly understand how we (in this thread) went from ridesharing to food delivery. B is a small subset of A; it's not all of A. If you live in a country where taxis do not have meters--not “drivers refuse to use them” but the meter is literally, physically not present--then right away you've knocked out one huge difference between taxicabs and ridesharing.
9:12 am on Jan 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Seems to me that Grab is another great concept, but I don't know how it is as a company. It does seem like it is doing some things very right- solving the Last Mile problem for logistics, and bring corruption-busting transparency to multiple sectors. There are two ways it could be going wrong- exploiting workers (MB's somewhat unsupported analysis), and using temporary subsidies to gain market share, with a view to exploiting a future monopoly.

In general, it is better for consumers and workers for there to be at least two, and ideally more than five, similar companies providing similar services. That way, the firms compete for staff and customers, driving up standards in both cases. Once a company becomes a monopoly (or there is collusion in a duopoly or oligopoly), customer services decline, prices become uncontrolled, and pay and working conditions deteriorate.

Seems like the company would be an exciting place to be. Only time will tell if they will Do no Evil.
4:07 pm on Jan 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Yeah I agree with Shadows views of economics (and Brett’s earlier comments). More jobs and job choice for workers is the key.

I had a job digging ditches (not a metaphor real ditches, I used a shovel). I would have been pissed if someone took away my job to save me from being exploited. It wasn't a great job but it was vastly better than no job. After that I had a job in a loading dock which I liked over digging ditches.

And compared to both those jobs I would have preferred a job to drive around and deliver stuff since that would have been preferable to either of my jobs.

The other benefit to job choice is that companies have to compete for labor which has benefits.
4:13 am on Jan 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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More jobs and job choice for workers is the key.


If I go to a restaurant with 1,000 items on the menu and they are all poison, that is not choice. When evaluating whether or not someone has a choice in any situation, you have to look at what universe the menu defines. I'm not taking a stand on the beef you have with martinibuster. I'm just saying that the statement I'm quoting there fails to understand that he who controls the menu, controls the choice. Any parent knows that: "Do you want Book A or Book B before bed tonight?" You don't ask: "Do you want a bedtime story or do you want to stay up all night playing games?"

When we talk about choice and the opportunities the tech giants are creating, I think it's time for everyone to reread Brave New World.No book describes our era as well.

Meanwhile, let's face it, ride-hailing jobs are a dead end. They will last for exactly as long as it takes for a self-driving car to be cheaper than a human-driven car. Since it's a race to the bottom with the lowest labor costs, the winner who takes all will ultimately be the one who gets to the self-driving finish line first. When we cross that threshold, the shift to self-driving will be alarmingly fast. It will make the shift to the machine loom look glacial.
8:59 am on Jan 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Meanwhile, let's face it, ride-hailing jobs are a dead end

Sure, but they are jobs now. As opposed to no job now. Or indeed a different job that is subjectively worse because you rejected it for a driving job.

The choice is not between a driving job and a "career" - it's between a driving job and a worse situation.
Since it's a race to the bottom with the lowest labor costs

Market economics generally prefers aims for lower input costs, including labour costs, but this is not necessarily so. Market economics is not especially interested in delivering for producers - it is focussed on consumers. Producers will accept increased input costs if it means they can deliver increased value to the consumer.

Of course, to be a consumer, you need to have disposable income, which happily the drivers will have through driving. Who knows, maybe the whole Creative Destruction thing will increase economic activity, creating new jobs and industries where people can aspire to a "career". Hell, maybe some of them will live the dream of App developers, or even webmasters(!)
5:04 pm on Jan 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Shaddows - I basically agree with everything you say there and would not deny that aspect. Merely trying to highlight the "tails" to your "heads"

>>they are jobs now.

Absolutely. People forget that the Luddites were 100% correct to oppose mechanized weaving. In fact, it took three generations for those families to recover economically. So it was great for their great grandkids, but it sucked for the workers, their kids and their grandkids. But in the short-term, weaving was a great deal for those people. They were some of the highest paid workers around.

I just think that in the current market, it is like going into handweaving after mechanized weaving has been invented. But of course you are right - it depends on your options. I myself have taken jobs that I knew had a short-term future, but it can be bridge to somewhere else.

>>it is focussed on consumers

Again, I think that is typically what pushes the drive to the bottom. People complain about the airlines, but the airlines, with their cramped seats and baggage fees are simply responding to consumer demand. We all agree that air travel is miserable, but very few of us pay extra to make it pleasant. The choice is there. We don't take it.

>> maybe the whole Creative Destruction thing will increase economic activity

I am sure it will. The questions are twofold:
- back to the Luddites: who will it benefit and how long will it take?
- will we outrace the impending environmental catastrophe?

If everything goes well, the benefits will appear quickly, be distributed broadly and help with the environmental crisis. If things don't go well... I think we drop into a period of deep secular decline, possibly a Dark Age depending on how things go with climate.
4:38 am on Jan 31, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I understand and agree that if there are 1000 things on the menu and they are all poison that is bad.

But that is a different scenario. In your scenario there is one entity, the restaurant owner, controlling the menu. That is rarely how economics plays out in real life. And if there is one restaurant owner offering only poison that is exactly why more options (a new restaurant owner offering good food or even bad food that is not poison) would be good.

I think the addition of these jobs has a benefit. Lets look at two scenarios.

In one example you have a town with one job for people without advanced technical skills. Ditch digging. If these new jobs related to package/food delivery come into vogue that provides workers with another option. Are they the best job in the world? No, of course not. But they are preferable to ditch digging. So these jobs would be a positive development for some people who now have a job that doesn't require digging a ditch in the heat.

Second if you have 900 people in the town working in jobs without advanced technical skills and roughly 875 jobs. These new jobs could push the number up to 950 jobs or so. That means the least desirable employer will now have unfilled job positions. So they either have to a) pay more or b) provide other types of benefits. If those former bottom tier employers are successful that means that other employers will now lose employees and have to increase wages or work conditions to compete as well.

(To be clear this does not mean that companies like Amazon or Walmart that in some sectors of the economy create jobs by removing a larger number of jobs are beneficial. )

But with these companies if a bunch of rich tech workers used to drive to restaurants to pick up food and now jobs are created to deliver food to those people that is a net positive for number of jobs. They are simply replacing those tech workers driving themselves to the restaurant. Those jobs at the least provide another job choice for people. And at best create more competition for workers among companies. Which is inherently good.

Also if you are talking about the future that those jobs will be replaced by robots. First off they are providing jobs now. In the future those jobs won't exist either way unless driverless cars and drones are outlawed. (And I think amazon drone delivery is where things are headed not driverless cars. Its cheaper and safer. And probably better for the environment depending on the cars )

But job automation is not isolated to delivery. That is for a vast vast vast swath of jobs that don’t require advanced tech skills. Bank tellers, fast food workers, truck drivers, grocery store clerks, flight attendants, retail workers, gas station attendants, ditch diggers, personal trainers, janitors, baggage handlers, DMV workers, restaurant dishwashers, data entry, etc etc etc. And even certain types of lawyers will probably lose work ala legalzoom. I assume jobs like architects and air traffic controllers will start taking a hit eventually as technology advances. And again outlawing or protesting the companies (grab or mcdonalds or whatever) will not change the outcome. You would have to somehow outlaw the technology. We are moving to a future will robots will be able to do more and more of our jobs. And that is a problem.

And tech workers (Who some can argue created this mess. Not because they helped to employ someone by ordered food instead of driving to a restaurant themselves, but because they went to work the next day and programmed people out of jobs) will have problems as well. The few remaining fields will likely become overcrowded with more people than jobs leading to lower wages, worse working conditions and high unemployment.

And if you believe people like Elon Musk eventually machines will take all our jobs. Arguing that A.I. will be capable of performing any task as well as or better than humans by 2030 or 2040.

[inc.com...]

So in summary the problem is not grab creating jobs so people don't drive to restaurants themselves. Its companies like amazon destroying a much larger number jobs (for instance former book store workers and other retail jobs) compared to the number of jobs they are creating. And the future will probably suck.
9:09 am on Jan 31, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The questions are twofold:
- back to the Luddites: who will it benefit and how long will it take?
- will we outrace the impending environmental catastrophe?

If everything goes well, the benefits will appear quickly, be distributed broadly and help with the environmental crisis. If things don't go well... I think we drop into a period of deep secular decline, possibly a Dark Age depending on how things go with climate.
Its companies like amazon destroying a much larger number jobs (for instance former book store workers and other retail jobs) compared to the number of jobs they are creating. And the future will probably suck.

People have been predicting the end of human ingenuity for ever. Yet we keep inventing, keep creating.

This is an interesting read [capx.co] on deploying human ingenuity on a truly grand scale. It's about colonising space, but I think the next humanity-scale Grand Project will be rescuing the environment. Something like atmospheric carbon capture, or GE bacteria turbo-charging the carbon cycle straight into substitute fossil fuels. Battery (or energy storage) technology, plus global energy grids, to store and distribute generally inconsistent renewables. These are huge challenges, and require entrepreneurial, technology-led solutions. Not bans, restrictions, rationing, or indeed kicking the current crop of entrepreneurs.
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