August 20, 2011

Tipping Points On My Journey to Google

Most of you saw this week's news that I'll be joining the Google+ team. Enough about that. Some see this as a big switch, primarily away from Apple and toward Google. I don't think this is a perfect portrayal. What's happened is that Apple has kept its offerings limited, primarily in hardware with some desktop software and limited Web offerings, while in the past few years, Google has expanded its Web offerings, and started powering hardware that I like. More often than not, I've liked their services, even though I don't use all of them, and I still use my MacBook (and Safari and even Apple Mail) a lot.

One of the underlying reasons I, as a blogger or power user, started to trend toward Google was due to the personal relationships I've gained with Google employees, and their transparency and responsiveness. On every network I've participated, from FriendFeed to Facebook to Twitter, they were there, answering questions or providing ideas. In contrast, even though I know many people who work for Apple, they've largely been silent in the same places. I also have lots of friends at Facebook and Twitter and Linkedin, etc., but talking with Google people felt natural and the more we talked, the more I agreed with their worldview. When that wasn't the case, they always seemed to listen and take my opinion seriously.

A tipping point I look back to which got me more comfortable with Google was when my friend +Kevin Buskirk asked me to join him for lunch on campus. He asked me to let him know if there was anybody on campus I would like to meet. I said +Mihai Parparita and+Chris Wetherell, two of the brains behind Google Reader. At the time, Mihai was in Boston, so that was impossible, but Chris came, and invited his colleague (now girlfriend) +Jenna Bilotta to the lunch as well. We talked a ton about RSS readers and information discovery, and it was great.

Later, at SXSW in 2009, I bumped into +Rick Klau on the plane, through pure serendipity, and he became a trusted voice on Feedburner and Blogger and later on Profiles and now YouTube. The guy gets around, but has been great at every stop.

Through them, and later through meeting +Karen Wickre in the comm team, +DeWitt Clinton+Denton Gentry+Matt Cutts and many others on FriendFeed, etc., Google stopped seeming like this big faceless company and started looking more like a place where I had lots of friends who really cared about getting things right.

What I promise you as I make this transition is that I still have a huge spot for startups. I still like lots of things about companies that people naturally assume compete with Google. But as someone who lives 12 minutes from the Google campus and 12 minutes from Apple's Cupertino campus, it's very interesting to see how two companies not so far apart, both doing very well, could manifest themselves in such different ways. I know not all of you have the luck I have to get to know the people behind the brand. There are tens of thousands I've never met, and may not ever, but in my time there as a friend, as user, a blogger, or a partner, it's always been comfortable with a good exchange of ideas. I hope I can continue that legacy.

That said - I haven't started yet and have no insight into many things here, so give me a little ramp-up time, as for now, I am pretty useless. :)

/via My Google+ Profile.