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James Whittaker

Software testing guru James Whittaker left Microsoft to join Google back in 2009. Now he’s back at Microsoft, working as a web futurist, and he has been having a hard time keeping up with all the questions about why he left Google. As he puts it, “answering individually isn’t scaling.”

So today he published a blog post explaining his perspective on what changed at Google during his tenure there. And it’s a fascinating read for anyone seeking insights into what’s happening behind the scenes at Google.

“The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate,” he writes. “The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus.”

That’s the summary, but there’s a lot more to it than that, including Whittaker’s belief that Google has shifted from a culture of employee empowerment to centralized mandates, that it’s putting too much focus on ads vs. the underlying quality of its content, and that its efforts to compete with Facebook using Google+ — an initiative on which he worked — have been futile.

“Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn’t invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation,” he writes. “The fact that no one came to Google’s party became the elephant in the room.”

In conclusion, he writes, “The old Google was a great place to work. The new one? … -1”

Read the whole post here.

(Thanks to Richard Hay of Windows Observer for the tip.)

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