A couple of weeks back a highly-placed engineer at Google named Steve Yegge posted an essay to Google+ about why they as a company were set for some disappointing times because they didn’t understand how to build platforms. He says he intended it only to be internal to Google, but it has been preserved with his permission here. Some of it is unintelligible to me, but much of it pretty interesting on the current issues tech companies are trying to solve and, better, highly entertaining.
What I understand by his main complaint is that Google is not good at providing an effective infrastructure that anybody can use to build services upon. Therefore the only cool products that people can get through Google are the ones it makes itself. Contrast that with Apple, through which we get all our mobile apps, or Amazon, whose web services are used by hundreds of successful online businesses.
Obviously it’s not that often that a rant like this is released into the wild; it’s even less often that it’s so hilariously written. Steve Yegge had previously been at Amazon and gives a few insights to what it’s like working there (basically, horrible). The essay is packed with bits like:
Jeff Bezos is an infamous micro-manager. He micro-manages every single pixel of Amazon’s retail site. He hired Larry Tesler, Apple’s Chief Scientist and probably the very most famous and respected human-computer interaction expert in the entire world, and then ignored every goddamn thing Larry said for three years until Larry finally — wisely — left the company. Larry would do these big usability studies and demonstrate beyond any shred of doubt that nobody can understand that frigging website, but Bezos just couldn’t let go of those pixels, all those millions of semantics-packed pixels on the landing page. They were like millions of his own precious children. So they’re all still there, and Larry is not.
Cool. Enjoy your day.