Its Time to Move on from Google

“It’s time to move on, time to get going

What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing

But under my feet, Baby, grass is growing

It’s time to move on, it’s time to get going”

“Time to Move On” by Tom Petty

Time to Move On

I have tended to avoid big transitions in my life. I often get attached to people and places. I spent 4 years working after school, 7 years in grad school, and 7 years at NASA.  Well, after 9 wonderful years at Google it is time for me to take the plunge and move on to the next phase of my professional life. The other day I was reading an article about Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett returning to the garden to play the Celtics and I suspect when I come back to visit friends at Google I will feel the same way.  I know a part of me will always bleed blue, red, yellow and green.

Living in Silicon Valley and working at Google in today’s time is sort of like being able to live in Rome during the Renaissance and having the honor of working on the Sistine Chapel.  However, as I looked around, I realized that as wonderful as the Sistine Chapel is, there is a lot more to explore and more things to build.

When I came to Google 9 years ago, they asked me to lead this project they had recently started called Google Books. I guess I had heard something about it, but really not that much at that point. Well, Google Books will remain one of the high points of my professional career. The team was exceptional and they were all highly dedicated to doing something that at first seemed simply impossible. Years from now when my kids tell their kids about what their grandfather did in his life, I expect one of the first things they will mention will be Google Books.

While we eventually won the lawsuit (although it is still under appeal) alas, the settlement was not approved. Despite the fact that it was not approved, I truly believe that the settlement was a great achievement.  If it had been approved, we would have unlocked millions of books to the world. These books will now remain in snippet view until their copyright expires which is quite sad. Getting agreement between Google, the authors, the publishers and the libraries was almost impossible. It was a great compromise. Alas, we were always afraid that the agreement might have gone too far for a class action settlement and so it was denied. I had many great days and nights with the legal team and the representatives from the authors, publishers and libraries and learned a great deal from all of them.

After Google Books I had the pleasure of working on Google News and Google Product Search and also got to start the Google Music project.  Then I went on and spent 2 great years leading the engineering team at YouTube and then finally a couple of years leading some wonderful researchers within Google Research.

While I feel great about the impact that these many projects had on the world, what I appreciate the most was the opportunity to work with so many smart, intelligent and passionate people. The bonds I made at Google will stay with me for a lifetime.

So, I would like to thank all of the people that made my time at Google so special. In particular, I would like to thank Larry, Sergey and Eric for all of their efforts in building such a special company and for giving me the opportunity to work there.

For the next chapter in my life I am going to Nextdoor to lead their engineering team. For those who would like to hear more about this choice, I have a separate blog entry talking about why I am so excited about Nextdoor.

And let’s end this blog with some lyrics from one my favorite songs of all time …

“Except roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair.

Well the night’s busin open these two lanes will take us anywhere.

We got one last chance to make it real, to trade in these wings on some wheels.

Climb in back heaven’s waiting on down the tracks.”

“Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen


Nextdoor – My Next Big Challenge

About 9 months ago, I started to seriously entertain the idea of moving on from Google.  Over that time period, I talked to a variety of companies that are all doing interesting things. However, none of them got me really excited about leaving Google. While at Google, I have been blessed to work on some projects such as Google Books and YouTube that I feel are having, and will continue to have, a large impact on the world. For some of the startups that I considered they appeared to be reasonable businesses, but I felt that their impact on the world and on people would be modest at best.

This all changed, once I had the opportunity to start talking with the team at Nextdoor. When I first heard of Nextdoor, my first reaction was “oh, another social network.” However, as I spent more time with the team, started playing with the product and started listening to neighbors and friends using the product,  it became clear to me that Nextdoor had the potential to be much more than “just another social network.”

Today, we live in a hyper social world where we are able to easily connect with old friends from high school and college and follow the thoughts and activities of people all over the world. However, in some way, we actually are less connected to those people that live the closest to us — our neighbors.

When you look back on American history or for that matter consider cultures from around the world, often the neighborhood and other local communities have been the center of our daily lives. But, with how busy our lives are today, we often don’t get to spend as much time with our neighbors and in many cases may not even know them.

Nextdoor solves this problem by connecting people with the people who live closest to them and acts as an online townsquare for the community. A friend who lives in Atlanta just told me about how their neighborhood used Nextdoor to help coordinate helping each other out when a big snow storm hit the city and my daughter just found two babysitting jobs. Today, neighborhoods across the country are using it for virtual neighborhood watch to track and prevent suspicious activities. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg of the ways in which neighbors can help one another using their Nextdoor community.

I also am excited to join what is an exceptional team at Nextdoor. The co-founders (Nirav Tolia, Sarah Leary and Prakash Janakiraman) have built a great organization and I am looking forward to joining them. That have created a strong engineering culture with some great engineers. I look forward to helping them take the organization to the next level.

There are still lots of hard technical and social challenges to solve. Like any social network, many of the challenges are about understanding the interplay between technology and user behavior to build a product that solves a real need in a scalable fashion.

Ultimately, I think Nextdoor has a great start at creating what I expect to be the next breakout social networking platform to come out of the Valley. I think Nextdoor is providing a unique solution to the problem of connecting us with our local communities. With over 100 million in funding from Benchmark, Greylock and Kleiner Perkins and a board with load of experience in helping to build companies such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, I believe that Nextdoor is primed to take advantage of the opportunity that exists today. I am excited to be joining such an exceptional team in this endeavor.

If you are interested in exploring opportunities at Nextdoor, we have lots of hiring to do.  Just contact me at dan at