Google, your attitude sucks

Dear Eric … here’s my problem:

Somehow that didn’t feel right for Google. We wanted something much more transparent and open” (Eric Schmidt, Chairman/CEO Google, writing in the Harvard Business Review this month)

How, exactly, would you reconcile that with the fact that I had to serve Google with a legal document (here’s how to use the Data Protection Act of 1998) to get the feedback that your employees admitted they already had?

How do you explain the difference between the 10 seconds of feedback I received from your in-house recruiter, and the 12 pages (yes, *pages*) of feedback I received after I served the legal notice. Is this transparent? Is it open?

I’ve met many Googlers, and a lot of them are excellent salespeople for the company. If I truly believed that Google lived up to it’s claimed principles, I would go to great lengths to work there. Why devote my time, the precious days of finite life, to any other kind of organization? Before the interview process, I *did* believe, thanks to the testimonies of friends and ex-colleagues.

But the reality is clearly – “transparently”, to use your terminology – different. And it’s only thanks to the insightful and diligent work of UK lawmakers that I got anything out of Google at all. Amusingly, you didn’t even pay my travel expenses! Ironically, at the same office, when I went to the London Open House party, many years ago, I provided less … and received more … than when *you* asked *me* to come to an interview for a job. Surely that’s the wrong way around?

(I’ve still got my Google Open House t-shirt, and I got free food and drinks at the event. Thanks! That’s more than I got from the interviews…)

Personally, I have huge respect for people. I believe it’s the most important thing *for me* in any business. There are industries where individuals don’t really matter – I actively choose not to work in those industries. As experienced first-hand, my values wouldn’t allow me to work at a corporation like Google.

Why is it acceptable to those of you who work there now?


So, Google doesn’t live up to the hype? Shrug. My reaction: I’m building my own company that does. I’m not going to sit around waiting for someone else to make it for me.

Also … about that 12 pages of feedback… I checked with Google whether they’re OK with me publishing it (me, I really do strive for transparency ;)) – they said something very close to “it’s your data – do you what you want”. I’ve already sent it to a wide array of friends and ex-colleagues – people who know me well enough, both good and bad, to read between the lines and second-guess the context.

But it’s hugely context-dependent (i.e. you had to have been there to understand what’s going on), and there’s some extreme statements in there. It would be very easy to misinterpret, sometimes making Google look much worse than it should, sometimes making me look much worse than it should. I’m conflicted on how to publish it; transparency is great, but … you have to consider your personal responsibility too.

5 replies on “Google, your attitude sucks”

Re: Footnote

How about recounting the experience: Tell the tale from start to finish, from your point of view without any reference to the feedback.

Then go back through the tale and place quotes from the feedback in blocks, separate from the tale. Up to you if you want to comment on the quotes.

Provide a prologue telling us what your about to retell.

Eep, I admit I’d never even think of getting a company to cough up feedback like that. I’d be interested, even with the context issue, mind you.

When you say ” … sometimes making me look much worse than it should … “. I wondered, do they gather info on you prior to you coming to the interview? Since they know all about you .. what you searched on their site, which websites you visited, the e-mail subjects you tend to get, ads you like to click, … Do you think this information is taken into consideration?


Yes, they gathered some info. I don’t have the doc with me right now, but off the top of my head, it was both more and less than I expected:

more: they’d spoken to internal Google staff who happened to know me, some from many years back

less: there was no mention of my internet presence – not even my blog

I was suprised they hadn’t at least googled me ;) – it’s standard practice with candidates for any job to do some background research on the person and their previous work and find out:

– (for programmers): do they have a StackOverflow presence?
– (for artists): deviantart presence?
– what Open Source projects have they contributed to? In what role?

Definitely nothing about personal traffic; if there had been, I think they’d be hit with a massive lawsuit by someone: that kind of tracking is IIRC unquestionably illegal :). (personally, I believe them when they say “we don’t tie that data to the real-person at any point”. Mostly because I know they can achieve practically everything they want to *without* doing that – and partly because they have so many employees that sooner or later one of them would blow the whistle, and they’d be mincemeat)

It’s indeed a bit strange they don’t look at online presence. I would guess they at least have good look at your ‘public’ google profile, and the data associated with it. Their systems use it.. so why wouldn’t they; within legal limits offcourse. But what’s legal… depends on the country too.

Puzzles me though, how they knew that there were people working for them, who know you. I don’t think they send every applicants’ name to everyone there to check if they know anyone.

Thanks for your quick reply, helps me to put my mind at ease :-).

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