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Living the Good Life, Leaving Google Behind 176

Posted by kdawson
from the calling-in-rich dept.
inetsee writes with an article in the San Francisco Chronicle profiling seven early Googlers who have left the company, part of a cohort the article claims amounts to 100 out of the first 300 workers hired by Google. For these former employees, all the acclaimed perks of life at the Googleplex can't compete with calling the shots in their own lives. Google's chef is opening his own restaurant, Olana Khan has started a non-profit that makes micro-loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries, and Aydin Senkut has become an angel investor. Others are simply enjoying retirement, making things in the garage shop or skydiving in South Africa.
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Living the Good Life, Leaving Google Behind

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  • by hsmith (818216) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @10:14AM (#17555798)
    How is this news? They have been at the company 6 years, saw it grow and have ambitions of their own. I am not shocked in the least bit.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lucabrasi999 (585141)
      How is this news?

      You must be new here. All you have to do is submit a story, ANY story, that mentions Google and the Slashdot editors start salivating....

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Speare (84249)

        Ask Slashdot: Does Google Make You Drool?
        An anonymous fanboy writes, "Why does POP mail still exist? Why do people still talk about Flickr and GARMIN maps? Should the Linux kernel be rewritten on a micro-google architecture? Nintendo was just copying Google when they came up with the idea of the Wiiiiiiimote. Elvis isn't dead, he's just not attending shareholder meetings anymore. The SEC and DOJ are investigating all the back-dating scandals using a secret new Google API."

      • How is this news?

        You must be new here. All you have to do is submit a story, ANY story, that mentions Google and the Slashdot editors start salivating....


        Yes, BUT, way before the .com boom and bust and the web 2.0, a common tech dream was to join a groundbreaking company in its infancy.
        These technology companies were well funded by venture capital, but usually in the beginning still gave developers, programmers, and any EARLY employee
        huge stock grants, thousands of shares for prices like .50 each. This is h
    • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @10:20AM (#17555884) Homepage Journal
      This just in - the same seems to be true of successful retired employees of McDonalds, Saks 5th Avenue, K-Mart, the Long Island Railroad, AT&T, Mel's Diner, NASA, Frito-Lay, Ford, Mad Magazine, Slappy's Bait Shop, Paramount Pictures, Goya, the NSA, and Roy's Gerbil Grooming.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by IainMH (176964)
      In the Web 1.0 dotcom world, this was called the Ferrari Effect - you know you're about to get this when your car park is full of Italian sports cars.
    • No, no no. You must be new here.


      Valid responses are along the lines of "oh noes!! Google is dying, eleventyone!!! They are so kewl!!!" or "Har har! Serve them right for being evil! What goes around comes around."

  • by SnapShot (171582) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @10:18AM (#17555864)
    If you made multi-million dollars in a start up tech company would you:
    1. Leave to pursue your interests.
    2. Continue to work at the company until retiremennt.
    3. Burn the money in a huge trash barrel and join a Buddist monestary.
    4. Hire private detectives to stalk CowboyNeal?
    • by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @10:22AM (#17555908) Journal
      That blur you would see would be me leaving the building. There are few jobs worth actually staying at if you have the wealth to pursue your own course.

      Hell, I could just sit around all day and post on slashdot. Oh, right.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by arivanov (12034)
        While your attitude is quite common in the tech circles, I have yet to observe it in people who have managed to make repeated high achievements. Nearly all consistent high achievers do not red-shift the moment they can, they move away quietly after a time to do different things and usually succeed again in the new thing they do. So based on your attitude you are least likely to manage this even once. In fact I doubt the "even once". All I can say - good luck and all the best as you are least likely to say "
        • by johneee (626549)
          And the time for them to go seems to not have anything to do with money - rather, it's where the company is in its evolution.

          I know someone who does this, he starts companies, and builds them until they get to the point where he starts to have to do more management than work*. Then he leaves it to people who like management and starts something else where he can do that work* he likes.

          *You know what I mean... actual technical work where he can get into the gears and muck around with systems. I'm not tryi
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jerf (17166)
          Well, duh. People who cash out at the first opportunity don't try again, so of course they don't replicate their success. You have to play again to win again!
        • Personally? I've got more interests than my time allows. I would probably never slow down. Some people do fear retirement, as they would be at loose ends. I once worked for the government, and was there for one of the 3 week shutdowns when Clinton and the Congress has a pissing match over the budget. I spent a day finding out that there was nothing worth watching on TV, a day sizing up the things I hadn't been doing around the house (maintenance and such), and the next two and a half weeks pursuing about ha
        • Nearly all consistent high achievers do not red-shift the moment they can, they move away quietly after a time to do different things and usually succeed again in the new thing they do.

          That's contractual. When a start-up is acquired, they typically keep the owner on in a mgmt role for 9-12 months and then he bails. It is a standard part of such acquisition agreements to reduce the risk to the buyer that the place will just fall apart after they've forked over a load of cash. Don't make more of it than wh
    • by lucabrasi999 (585141) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @10:24AM (#17555934) Journal
      If you made multi-million dollars in a start up tech company

      I would sleep with two women at the same time.

    • 3. Burn the money in a huge trash barrel and join a Buddist monestary.

      You mean like the K Foundation did? The K Foundation burn a million quid [wikipedia.org].

      I think I'll start a new web page entitled "please give me a million so I can set fire to it", each doner will get a little bit of the ash. It's sure to work!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11, 2007 @10:24AM (#17555932)
    If you are young, healthy, single, and debt-free, you dont need to be a millionaire to pursue your dream. Ramen noodles, a backpack, and a good attitude is all you need. I don't understand why people think they need to "pay their dues" before doing what they really want to do in life.

    You live only once. You are young only once. So, you should do whatever it is you really want to do.

    This, of course, is why it is so important to live frugaly and avoid debt -- it can rob you of your freedom. There's nothing worse than some student debt with a side dish of some credit cards, a long-term cell phone contract, and a car lease.

    • Yeah, but if there's one thing that makes it much easier to make money, it's money. It's certainly possible to start your own business with nothing, and build it all from scratch and be successful. But you're not guaranteed success, you're going to have to work very hard, and probably get a little lucky.

      Working somewhere else and saving some money before heading out on your own is no guarantee of success either, but it's likely to put you in a better position, as not being on the verge of starvation can be
    • Your forgot "and have the ability to see into the future." Otherwise, I'm not sure how you can determine you're going to still be healthy in 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, etc. How many people do you know with a health problem that you would have considered "healthy" six months before it was diagnosed? I know plenty. Plus, there's accidents. By their very nature, they come at you out of the blue. Try having an accident without health insurance - like maybe wrecking your bike and breaking your jaw (happene
    • Interest on a million would barely pay property taxes on a new home in the area.
    • If you are young, healthy, single, and debt-free, you dont need to be a millionaire to pursue your dream. Ramen noodles, a backpack, and a good attitude is all you need. I don't understand why people think they need to "pay their dues" before doing what they really want to do in life.

      Because if you don't, you can easily find yourself with your dream fulfilled - but years behind where you need to be in able to get a job, let alone fund your retirement. Fulfilled dreams don't put a roof over your head or fo

    • Ramen noodles, a backpack, and a good attitude is all you need. I don't understand why people think they need to "pay their dues" before doing what they really want to do in life.

      People think they need to pay their dues because they need a way to pay their bills. You can go ahead being malnourished only owning what can fit in a backpack with your good attitude. I will continue to enjoy "paying my dues" while I live in a nice apartment overlooking Lake Michigan posting on Slashdot from my fast computer an

      • At 23 years of age, how much of your apartment, computer, TV is paid?

        Anyone can get a computer easily, a TV is a couple of months salary at worst. A house is something else. How long have you been paying for it and for how much longer will you have to work to finish paying it?

        • TV is paid, computer is paid (although I need a new one soon) and I rent my apartment until I save up a sufficient nest egg to make a downpayment on a place of my own. However I currently have zero college debt. Of course I'm 23 though and don't really expect to have a house just 2 years out of college. At least not a house I would be happy in, in a neighborhood I would be safe in. And I'm not so sure I'd want to own a house vs an apartment.

          • I ask you because I did the math once and figured out I would need to save 10 years pay to afford a good house (i.e. on a quiet neighbourhood with plenty of space). I guess this is reasonable considering the time vs number of people required to build a house. I am leaning for a house away from the city rather than an apartment because I think these have a better bang for the buck.

            The good neighbourhoods in central places seem to cost 5-6x more. Sure I could save on transport by being there and using pub

  • In the meantime... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Piroca (900659) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @10:27AM (#17555966)

    I've done about 10 interviews with them, they went OK (although they don't really seem to know what they are doing in their hiring process...) but after the "on-site" interviews 2 months ago they simply forgot to get back to me with feedback. I imagine this happens with a lot of people, they spend several months being interviewed with google and getting this sucky treatment. Google deals with the hiring process as an investment, and as it seems, so do the job applicants. Part of the people that get actually hired will spend some time in the company and get away for a "promotion" in another company just because they've worked for Google, partially motivated by the way the company dealt with them since the beginning.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)
      they simply forgot to get back to me with feedback.

      Forgot? As in, conveniently forgot?

      Google can afford to treat people this way when they don't want to hire them because even if they tell bad stories lots of other people will still want to work for them.

    • Agreed - if I hadn't known better, I would have thought I was dealing with some small-time company who's never hired an IT person of any sort before. I quit the interview process a few steps in, because no job's worth that kind of pain in the ass.
      • by RESPAWN (153636)
        I actually had the same thing happen to me. Several months ago I interviewed with a smaller data warehousing company out of St. Louis. Things seemed to go well in the phone interviews and so they flew me out one day to interview in person. Things went well at the interview there (or so I felt) and the HR director informed me that he would be making a decision in a couple of weeks. In spoke to him a week later and he stated that they were still in the process. Then... nothing. None of my correspondance
        • by frdmfghtr (603968)

          A couple of months later, I got an email from the recruiter asking me what my status was and if I'd found a job yet because they wanted to bring me on board. By that point I had already moved to a new city and accepted a job with a new company. The whole thing seemed very unprofessional, though. I mean, they could have at least sent me a letter of denial instead of not returning my phone calls.

          That happened where I used to work--not to me, but to somebody we wanted to hire. He interviewed, my boss dragg

    • A lot of companies purposely don't call back candidates that they aren't 100% on--they want to see if you have 1 ounce of gumption in your bones. Apparently you are lacking (I'm referring to the fact that you took no initiative to contact them and get a status update).
  • by aadvancedGIR (959466) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @10:51AM (#17556284)
    When in school, I attended an Accenture (Andersen Consulting at that time) hiring event in which I was told that I could be VP in 5 years just because almost everyone just quit within the first 3 years (with some money and a breakdown). The funny thing is that they managed to tell this almost as something positive.
    • Me too. I thank the Lord that Andersen Consulting rejected me - several years later I met a couple of the guys that did get in and they were both depressed and on the verge of leaving. Some of their friends at the company had even had breakdowns.
    • Unfortunately for me, the consulting company I joined (Accenture's biggest competitor) failed to mention this until Orientation.

      "Welcome to Initech! We got you, you dumb bastards! Ah ha hah ha!"
  • by MDMurphy (208495) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @11:10AM (#17556490)
    I've seen the bumperstickers saying "The Worst Day Fishing is Better than the Best Day Working". That kind of sums it up. Even if it's the best place in the world to work, if you don't have to work and can be doing something else, there's a lot of fun things out there.

    There are lots of people out there who "love their jobs", but in reality it's only relative. They love their jobs, when compared to other jobs. If you don't have to work, there are lots of other things to do out there.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by RESPAWN (153636)
      As Robert Mondavi once said: "Find a job that you love and you'll never work a day in your life."
      • As Robert Mondavi once said: "Find a job that you love and you'll never work a day in your life."

        So I'm curious...anybody have any good tips about figuring ouw what job you would love? I ponder it day and night and I can't figure it out.

        • by RESPAWN (153636)
          Uhh... "Our high school guidance counselor used to ask us what you'd do if you had a million dollars and you didn't have to work. And invariably what you'd say was supposed to be your career. So, if you wanted to fix old cars then you're supposed to be an auto mechanic." ;)
  • by Cutting_Crew (708624) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @11:19AM (#17556630)
    if you are single with no family and want to work all your life and spend most of what you earn on outrageous housing costs, higher taxes, and urban sprawl then google is the place for you. Just like most of northern cali/simi valley/san fran the culture is also secluded and anti-social. how many couples walking on the sidewalks do you see? or people walking their dogs? heaven forbid i get a flat tire or run out of gas. i'll be walking to the gas station on my own.

    if you have a family and they are first in your life above anything else(including work), want to save and not throw money away on outrageous housing costs and want privacy without having to drive one hour one way to work then google is not the place for you even if you could get a job there.

    more people are figuring out that they dont want to work 50 or 60 hours a week because they want to do other things, stay healthy and just have a life outside of work. most people dont want to work where they feel like they live in China and Japan, where workers typically work 70 hour weeks, but of course their country works and thats all it does, yet where is the reward? It's hard to enjoy rewards in life that you earn if you are too busy working. Our culture has turned into the mindset slowly and on a different scale of china. that to be successful we have to work all the time and nothing else comes before it, including family. I am not sure where or when this trend started.

    there is a reason why we have weekends and a reason why most people dont work more than 40 hours a week. its to take a breather from work so we can refresh. its also a reason that people have burnout and productivity decreases. In google's case there are enough people that want to work for them that have the mindset that google is their life and that is why google provides things like laundromats, bringing your pets to work, 3 gourmet meals and swimming pools. if people just wanted to go home for lunch and promptly go home after 5 or 6 pm then what would the need be to offer all these ameneties? think about that one for a moment.

    I know that they have offices in NYC and Seattle as well as sporatic jobs here and there but NYC and Seattle is the same as Simi Valley/Mountain View -- that is heavy traffic, no privacy(unless you want to drive 1 hour one way to work), up to the sky housing costs and taxes and living in a culture where everyone wants to work their whole life and thus they think their employees should have the same attitude. Trying to not to sound too stereotypical i am sure there are other smaller places in these areas that at least offer stable working conditions.

    In Seattle's case i dont know how in the world all these tech companies keep people in that area. Traffic is still heavy but most of all for me i just cant bear the thought of at most 3 months of sunshine and cold rainy winters. I was there in november 2 years ago and the sun did come out 2 days out of the week(the rest of the week it was raining) but you still couldnt see the sun because it was so overcast. Maybe theres a reason why it's the #1 suicidal city in the country.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by garcia (6573)
      if you have a family and they are first in your life above anything else(including work), want to save and not throw money away on outrageous housing costs and want privacy without having to drive one hour one way to work then google is not the place for you even if you could get a job there.

      My wife's cousin and her husband from California came to our wedding in September of 2005. In November of 2005 they moved here to get away from California's housing market, traffic, and to give themselves a better chan
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by P.J. Hinton (3748)
      An old adage sums it up best...

      Do you live to work, or do you work to live?

      Sounds like the ex-Google employees in question have decided the latter. Good for them!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11, 2007 @11:45AM (#17556960)
      That's funny, I work for Google and work exactly 40-hour weeks. Not all of those 40 hours are spent working, either. My manager doesn't expect any more out of me. I have quite a good life and walk my dog all the time.

      Try not to generalize so much. You simply make a fool of yourself.
      • A generalization is invalid if there's even one person who it doesn't apply to? Okay.
      • by ajnsue (773317)
        Johnson is that you! For God Sake get back to work and stop posting on slashdot or your A** is fired

        Sincerly,

        Your boss

    • by jafac (1449) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @12:59PM (#17558162) Homepage
      Your rant really boils down to a simple question - and that is the age-old question that has worried humans since they changed over from hunter-gatherers (who "work" about 13-hrs a week to survive) to agrarian, and later to industrial and post-industrial (which are really just facets of the same asset-accumulation that began in agrarian societies):

      Work to live?

      Or Live to work?

      Personally, I'm glad I don't live full-time in an animal skin tent with a life-expectancy of 30.

      But you gotta draw the line somewhere.
      Unfortunately, everybody's got a different idea of where that line should be.
      Some people have no idea where their line should be.
      Some people are perfectly happy living to work, and working 70hr weeks as a result. It's not my place to criticise such people, but only as long as they don't criticise my line of 40hrs.

      So the point is - find your line. And draw it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      As someone who's worked for Google Mountain View for awhile, my experience couldn't be less like what you're describing.

      how many couples walking on the sidewalks do you see? or people walking their dogs?

      Quite a large number, generally while my wife and I are out walking our dog.

      if you have a family and they are first in your life above anything else(including work), want to save and not throw money away on outrageous housing costs and want privacy without having to drive one hour one way to work then google is not the place for you even if you could get a job there.

      Actually, I'm married, consider my family more important than my job, am saving for a house (and in the meantime paying barely more than I did the last place I lived), and bike to work in about 15 minutes, or drive in ten.

      more people are figuring out that they dont want to work 50 or 60 hours a week because they want to do other things, stay healthy and just have a life outside of work.

      Sounds like me. I only work about 40 hours a week. I'm in the office a few hours more tha

    • In Seattle's case i dont know how in the world all these tech companies keep people in that area. Traffic is still heavy but most of all for me i just cant bear the thought of at most 3 months of sunshine and cold rainy winters.

      Mostly because Seattle weather isn't actually quite as bad as the mythology about Seattle weather would have you think. (And the summers, while short, are truly glorious.)
      • if you live in the south(as i do) and are used to roughly 300+ days of sunshine a year with 9 months of that being labeled as summertime then that can be quite a turnoff.
        • if you live in the south(as i do) and are used to roughly 300+ days of sunshine a year with 9 months of that being labeled as summertime then that can be quite a turnoff.

          I grew up in the South - FL, GA, NC, and spent 4 years stationed in Charleston, SC. I probably far more aware than you of what constitutes 'summertime' in the South - and it sure as heck isn't 9 months of the year with 300+ days of sun.
          • well i live on the gulf coast, near Biloxi and it was 70 as the high today, the sun was out, no clouds..t-shirts and jeans. that is the average around here for late december/early january. if youve lived in florida then you know what i am talking about. maybe florida has a bit more rain i dont know. maybe i exaggerated just a bit. maybe 275-300 days of full sunshine. unless we have our normal tropical storms like we can get or if its about to rain, i can still see the sun and get some sunlight which is alwa
            • The Gulf Coast is quite a bit different from the rest of the South - it's considerably warmer. Florida varies wildly - Miami is much hotter and sunnier than Jacksonville, while Orlando (being located inland) is much drier than both.

              Seriously the weather here is not as bad as legend would have you believe - it does get cold and wet, but that considerably balanced by the days that are glorious and the views you can get. Driving around where I live (near Seattle) it's impossible to avoid views of the
    • Google gives engineers amenities like laundry and dental and meals primarily because it frees the engineer from having to worry about dry cleaning or letting the dog out. Instead of "Gosh, I have to run this errand and that errand today", they can occupy themselves with doing cool stuff. We don't have to worry about getting to the barber on time, because they're right downstairs. I need something dry cleaned, I drop it off, and then it gets delivered to my cube. I don't have to think about any of that n
      • yes i do know a couple of people that work at google. they say that the 20% working on your own thing per week is at best a myth and is consumed with work that needs to be done and more than often than not that requires more than 40 hours. maybe you have it better off i dont know. when you say "free the engineers from having to worry about dry cleaning" that makes me somehow translate that into "because you dont have to worry about all these things we offer you "there is more time for you to be at work and
  • Leave Google behind? I don't think so. Google will always find you. Google knows everything. Does this make Google God. Maybe the ancients screwed up the spelling?
  • Reading the stories of those retired millionaires, it sounds like Google is slowly turning into another big bureaucratic tech company like IBM or Microsoft. Stories about suits roaming the hallways and ingenious ideas for server consolidation being shot down due to risk doesn't exactly make me feel enthusiastic about the companies future.

    I just hope that Google's management is careful about managing it's growth, and doesn't allow the bean counters to take over and end the era of free gourmet lunches and tim
  • The real story.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alascom (95042) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @12:53PM (#17558042)
    The real story isn't that 1/3 of the first 300 employees left Google... Its the fact that 2/3 of them STAYED even after having the wealth to do whatever they want. That is a pretty strong endorsement for Google that they can keep people working and happy, even when the people don't NEED the job!
    • how can you assume that all 300 'first employees' had the same amount of stock options? I've seen before startups where if you are employee 1-10 you get a couple million options at $0.01, if you are employee 11-50, you get several hundred thousand stock options at $0.50, while if you are employee #51 and up (after the higher ups decide that the startup is viable, that it will go public, and that the less dilution the better) you get maybe 5,000 options at $5.00. When you go public and/or get acquired, altho
      • by Onan (25162)

        Five thousand shares of GOOG at a five dollar strike price would have a current face value of $2,473,600.

        The next time you're going to present an argument based upon completely made up numbers, you might want to make up some that, y'know, actually support your argument.

  • Even with all the many perks at Google, you just can compete with freedom. Doing only what you want to do, and doing it the way you want to. That's something worth more then money.

    But you need money to get there, it's the truth. Live below your means and you will get there. Live above your means and you never will, no matter how much you make.
  • by heroine (1220) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @03:34PM (#17561146) Homepage
    Don't forget the other 600,000 starving programmers working in startups exactly like Google but who are never going to get the financial jackpot. It's so rare to hit the jackpot, you can't take it seriously.

For every bloke who makes his mark, there's half a dozen waiting to rub it out. -- Andy Capp

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