Sunday, September 03, 2006

Going to Google

I've accepted an offer from Google and will start working at the Zurich office in November. As a big fan of Google, I have fond memories from my internship there 2 years ago. As an alternative, I had thought about joining a number of startups, which could have been far more lucrative, but potentially less enlightening.


Rest assured that this decision was made in an Excel sheet with pros and cons and expected net values with estimated probabilities.

My great fear with Google is that it may have become a corporate behemoth, along with all the stupid rules, book-sized guidelines, and people who merely serve as bottlenecks. If they are, Freedom Fighter Gabor will be in deep, deep, trouble. If they still have the friendly attitude from 2 years ago, things will be great.


This is the first point in my life where I had to decide between becoming an entrepreneur and becoming an employee. The great thing about being an entrepreneur is that you escape the gravity of average performance: There are huge variations in the output of recent university graduates. But big companies, even those claim to be a meritocracy, cannot pay these kids by actual output.

The reasons: First, performance may be hard or impossible to measure – what's the value of a new algorithm? Second, having huge differences in pay between employees may lead to social unrest. And third, some of the highest-performance kids do not actually know that they're worth much, so why pay them more?


The only way to get paid according to your market value is to directly address the market. That's exactly what startups do. But there is a huge amount of luck factored in. Personally, I'm fine with risk. The problem of being an early employee at a startup, however, is that you get substantially lower stakes than the founders, but put in comparable amounts of work and carry a similar risk.

So why not start a startup myself? Well, you need to have the people, the idea, and the money. I had been thinking about this intensely, but at all times, at least one component was missing. And with one of my potential cofounders joining me at Google and the other one going to a startup, that idea disintegrated. Maybe another time.


Marcus Foster has a good point: Once employed at a high-profile company, you have to self-censor. I'm not sure what the policy at Google is these days, but getting fired for blogging about company secrets is not one of my ambitions.

I still have plenty of topics for essays and thoughts I want write about. Once I've handed in my thesis on October 3, I will try milk every last bit of thought from my brain and commit it to a blog entry.


Mithras The Prophet said...

Congratulations, Gabor!

Marcus said...

Welcome on board Gabor! See you soon in Zurich or London.

Factory Joe said...

Congrats! And let's hope that your self-censorship is minimal at worst..!

Good luck.

F said...

> Once employed at a high-profile company, you have to self-censor.


You can't do that to me!

Reinhard said...

Congratulations! Yet, I was so certain that you would do something independently. Now's the time to be risky, before you get too comfortable and settled by a steady income and other life obligations. However, it's definitely the better choice for a conventional career...