Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Healthy Disregard for the Impossible

Two weeks ago, I quit my job at Google. Later this year, I will join Xobni ("inbox backwards") in San Francisco, California!

Why leave Google? It's a fantastic company: They have the smartest people, enlightened management, great projects and pamper employees to no end. But most importantly, they're one of the few companies that stick to their values: When they say "don’t be evil", they actually mean it. I can only recommend working there.

But what I really wanted to do after school is to do a startup.

When I visited Adam and Matt in August last year, I was impressed: They were also interested in email, they seemed wicked smart, and had all the right connections. But above all, they had a healthy disregard for the impossible. These guys are willing to do what it takes to succeed.

Back then, it was hard to lure me away from my Google offer, and they didn't succeed. Since then, the company, software, and goal have evolved and they've recently received significant VC funding (as the media found out today).

Matt and Adam don't take no for an answer. After another offer earlier this year, it took me quite a while to make up my mind and actually quit. Back at Google Zurich, I was working on an awesome project with great people. The office was growing fast. Google had just won another award for being the best place to work, ever. It didn’t seem like a smart, mainstream move at the time.

What pulled the trigger was reading Jessica Livingston's Founders at Work on a plane ride back from the States. If all of these guys had done it, so could I. Around the same time, I got an email from Paul Buchheit who wrote: "The great thing about a good startup is that even if it doesn't work out, you still end up learning a lot more and meeting more interesting people than you otherwise would." That's true: The learning curve will be much steeper at Xobni than at Google; my impact will be much larger. That's the kind of environment I enjoy.

As one of Xobni's earliest employees, I'll be heading up their engineering effort. We're looking for a few superstars. If you're one of them, let me know.

8 comments:

Gabor said...

Xobni in the news: VentureBeat, GigaOM

Corsin Camichel said...

Hi Gabor

Wow, this is great news (even if I call you a little crazy for leaving Google). But I can understand you and your dreams.
Anyway, I wish you and your team all the best with Xobni and hopefully we see us again on any of the two coasts or in Europe.

Anonymous said...

But what about your 3-years swiss train-card?

rolf said...

max. respect for this decision!

halpine-yaf said...

Hope you make it to the states soon -- I'm interested to see what comes of this ;-)

leo said...

Amazing News! I'm sure that you will have the much bigger impact in a startup than at google. Myself looking forward to start soon in a startup (probably not that starting up anymore, but still). A young and growing enviroment with a lot of ideas will give me a much more possiblities (and of course fun) than a big company. And I will you not call crazy for leaving google ;-).

Bye the way, I'm not agry with the assertion that google is still "not evil". But this may be a bit of topic and way to complicated to explain here, we may discus this by a beer (in the assumption that we are some day at the same day in Zurich).

Reinhard said...

All the best, Gabor! I think it is a great decision, and that you will have time for a beer in San Francisco. Let me know!

Anonymous said...

Hi Gabor,

can you blog a little about Xobni & SF?

That would be so cool.

Jakub