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Steve Yegge

We’re just a few days from finishing the rollout of our 2011 GeekWire Newsmakers, a roster of people who made an impact on the tech industry over the past year. Today’s honoree, Steve Yegge, is unusual because he probably never would have expected to make the list.

Not that the Google engineer isn’t doing important work. But he made news this year by accident, when an exceptionally insightful rant that he intended for internal consumption was inadvertently made public through the Google+ social network — generating widespread headlines for its brutal candor about Google and Amazon.

Yegge, a UW grad based in Google’s Kirkland office, called the recruiting process at Amazon, his former employer, “fundamentally flawed” and said Amazon founder Jeff Bezos “makes ordinary control freaks look like stoned hippies.” Writing about Google, his current employer, he said “We don’t understand platforms” and called Google+ “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.”

Here’s the best part. He still has his job, which says a lot about Google’s appetite for healthy internal criticism.

“Amazingly, nothing bad happened to me at Google,” Yegge wrote in a follow-up post. “Everyone just laughed at me a lot, all the way up to the top, for having committed what must be the great-granddaddy of all Reply-All screwups in tech history.”

Newsmakers at the GeekWire Gala

We’ll be recognizing more than 20 Newsmakers of 2011 during the GeekWire Gala, Dec. 8 at the Great Hall at Seattle’s Union Station. We’ll introduce a new Newsmaker every weekday leading up to the big event.

The night is also a celebration of “Geeks who Give Back,” recognized in a special GeekWire 2012 Calendar that will be given to attendees, with a share of sponsorship proceeds going to the Child’s Play charity.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The event is now sold out. If you’ve already signed up, we’re looking forward to seeing you there! See the registration page for details and logistics.

Thanks to our sponsors Zillow, Bing, Filter, Facebook, thePlatform and Barokas PR for helping to make this special evening possible.

Contact Rebecca Lovell,, for sponsorship opportunities.

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