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