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August 18, 2011

Google+ 1 More: I'm Joining Google Monday

In the world of tech, you can make the news or you can break the news. I like to do both.

Never wanting to just play the role of armchair quarterback, I have over the last 12+ years actively played a direct or advisory role to dozens of startup companies, both consumer and enterprise. In the last 5+ years, I have shared with you many of my own experiences here on this blog, be it what I am seeing in the market, new products and services I am enjoying or big trends I think are going to impact the way we interact with tech each day.

Behind the scenes, often with less fanfare, in my various roles with my6sense, Paladin, BlueArc, and other companies, I've worked closely with and learned from some of the top people in the Valley and beyond. Increasingly, I have spent more time with different teams at Google, learning how they work, what they find valuable, and seeing how their goals closely mirror many of my own. Starting Monday, I will be playing an active role in helping bring Google's products to more people, as I am joining the Google+ team in the role of Product Marketing Manager.

The way the world perceives Google and the way I perceive Google has changed a great deal since my first posts on the company's services back in 2006. The company has grown from its initial roots in search and advertising to play a major role in many parts of our online lives, and has been among the most vocal in fighting for standards, data portability, and bringing content to more users, faster. The company's new social effort, Google+, is in its initial stages, and from what I know about the people behind the project and how they are positioning it, this will be a major piece of the company's strategy going forward.

Even My Kids Are A Little Excited About Google

After years of sitting on the sidelines watching various networks get some pieces right and others frustratingly stall or make decisions that seemed contrary to their users interests, I am eager to be on the inside helping make the products better, fighting for users and thinking creatively about how social plays a beneficial role in our increasingly connected and mobile world. I want to help build and promote a product that isn't just more fun, but more intelligent and useful.

Joining Google, a company greater than 100 times larger than anywhere I have ever worked, about 3,000 times larger than my6sense, and 10,000 times larger than Paladin, is daunting, and will bring its own challenges. In the last few months, as I talked with future colleagues at Google, I asked about how one person can make an impact at such a company. I asked about the potential for slowness and bureaucracy, and each time, employees talked about its revitalization under Larry Page and acting like a startup with incredible resources. Many times, through interviews and casual conversations, the company referred to its own youth as being remarkable - just over a dozen years old, and them just getting started, even if we take their pervasiveness for granted. While some may question the company's stretching into new venues with projects like driverless cars, it shows me the company's willingness to experiment and tinker and try new things outside of scope, where others might not.

Obviously, joining Google changes things and I don't honestly know all this means for what you can expect on this blog and elsewhere - but it doesn't change who I am and this blog isn't going anywhere. I remain a major advocate for small startups, niche apps and services everywhere, in addition to my new 9-5 work.

In the coming weeks, I'll learn the best approach to talking about the company and its products and competition, so you know you're still hearing from me in the most transparent way I've always tried to be, while also honoring appropriate confidential activity with the company and its partners - the same way I always have with my6sense and others. It does mean that my work at Paladin is officially on hold, and I'm not taking on new consulting work. It also means that I am wrapping up my dedicated role with my6sense on Friday - still a big supporter of their ideas, their people, and looking forward to some great product announcements they have coming up.

This move to Google is made even more exciting due to the caliber of the people I will be working with, from Chris Messina and Joseph Smarr to Jonathan Terleski, Timothy Jordan, DeWitt Clinton, Don Dodge, Chris Chabot and more. In meetings with Google as a blogger, as a power user or as a partner, I've always been impressed by the insight, integrity and culture of the company and its employees - a different feel than that I have seen when working with others across the Valley.

You know me - I vote with my activity. I push what I like and I advocate what I will actually use. When Google+ debuted, it made sense to me immediately and I've been using it as my primary social destination since, even when it wasn't obvious I'd be heading Google's way. I've been holding back some of my ideas and feedback on the product here as I want to do that from within the core of the project - but I am happy with I've seen so far and eager to help push it to the next level.

You can find me on Google+: http://www.google.com/profiles/louisgray