I’ve never met Steve Yegge. But after reading the Google engineer’s 4,771-word rant — in which he slashes everything from Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos’ management style to the failures of Google + — I’d certainly like to.
I just spent a good 40 minutes digesting the post, and I want to go back and read it again. It is one of the best summaries I’ve read of what’s going on in the tech industry right now, even though that wasn’t the original intent of the post.
Yegge, a University of Washington computer science grad who is based in Kirkland and previously worked at Amazon.com, doesn’t hold back in the rant which was initially written for internal consumption at Google.
I’d strongly encourage you to read the post.
But to give you a taste for what’s in store, here are some of my favorite excerpts:
On Amazon’s cutthroat culture:
Amazon’s recruiting process is fundamentally flawed by having teams hire for themselves, so their hiring bar is incredibly inconsistent across teams, despite various efforts they’ve made to level it out. And their operations are a mess; they don’t really have SREs and they make engineers pretty much do everything, which leaves almost no time for coding – though again this varies by group, so it’s luck of the draw. They don’t give a single shit about charity or helping the needy or community contributions or anything like that. Never comes up there, except maybe to laugh about it. Their facilities are dirt-smeared cube farms without a dime spent on decor or common meeting areas. Their pay and benefits suck, although much less so lately due to local competition from Google and Facebook. But they don’t have any of our perks or extras — they just try to match the offer-letter numbers, and that’s the end of it. Their code base is a disaster, with no engineering standards whatsoever except what individual teams choose to put in place.
On Jeff Bezos style as a micromanager:
“Bezos is super smart; don’t get me wrong. He just makes ordinary control freaks look like stoned hippies.”
On why Google doesn’t “get” platforms:
That one last thing that Google doesn’t do well is Platforms. We don’t understand platforms. We don’t “get” platforms. Some of you do, but you are the minority. This has become painfully clear to me over the past six years. I was kind of hoping that competitive pressure from Microsoft and Amazon and more recently Facebook would make us wake up collectively and start doing universal services. Not in some sort of ad-hoc, half-assed way, but in more or less the same way Amazon did it: all at once, for real, no cheating, and treating it as our top priority from now on.
On Google +:
Google+ is a knee-jerk reaction, a study in short-term thinking, predicated on the incorrect notion that Facebook is successful because they built a great product. But that’s not why they are successful. Facebook is successful because they built an entire constellation of products by allowing other people to do the work. So Facebook is different for everyone. Some people spend all their time on Mafia Wars. Some spend all their time on Farmville. There are hundreds or maybe thousands of different high-quality time sinks available, so there’s something there for everyone.
The reaction to the piece has been intense and supportive, and Yegge wrote in a follow-up that there’s been no attempt by Google PR to censor the comments.
“I love working at Google, and I especially love the fact that I’m comfortable posting something as inflammatory as my post may have been,” he writes. “The company is super open internally, and as I said several times in my post, they really try hard to do everything right. That includes being open to strongly differing opinions, and that has certainly not been true at every company I’ve worked at.”
That’s pretty amazing considering a Microsoft worker lost his job last month for posting some rather benign comments — at least compared to Yegge’s remarks — about Windows Phone 7 on Twitter.