The “I left Google” genre is quite over-populated so I won’t add much to it. Suffice it to say that I met a whole bunch of smart, talented, interesting, eccentric, helpful and just all-around wonderful people, there, learned more than I thought I would, and generally had a very good time!
I had spent about seven years there, was coming in on an eighth, and didn’t want to spend my whole life there. Leaving was certainly nerve-racking, made possible only by continuous self-prods of “if not now, when?” It was really a sort of gradual process, where I began by looking at other teams internally, then switched my default response to recruiters from “no” to “maybe”, then to “yes”, and so on.
The idea of going for an interview at all, after seven years (yes, really!) was somewhat daunting, and I now feel silly about it, in the sense that I should have done it sooner. But after the first, the second became easier, and after the third, it was more of a joyride than something to unnecessarily worry about.
I had this feeling of wanting to “be able to work in a different environment”, and felt drawn to the idea of working at a smaller place. One of the places I interviewed at fit this bill and was really an incredible sweet spot in terms of location, work, size, people, everything, I had made a new years’ resolution of starting and finishing this process and then moving on quickly, and I get a good feeling about Pure Storage 😀
A month in, I’m still soaking in a lot of very different stuff, technically, but I’m extremely happy with my decision and feel quite grateful to have found a fun group of people to work with, from whom I have a LOT to learn!
There are a great many things I will miss about my time at Google, but I think I will take with me a certain “sense of mission”. I have been very fortunate to have been acquainted with or worked alongside, some real wizards, to whom I owe a sort of love of learning, and a deeper appreciation of the science and art of computing than I ever thought possible.
I now recognize that while I felt quite confident ten years ago that “I knew everything”, I now feel I know very little indeed, and everything recedes forever into the distance, as some kind of idea to be ever-more-closely approximated.
Still, it doesn’t mean I have to stretch myself very thin. I’ve also learned that there are some areas I like better than others, and can happily spend years and decades learning more and more there. I don’t think I know nearly as much as I can in Operating Systems, Databases, Compilers, Language design, Filesystems (and much more!), and I’ve always been a polyglot and loved “all kinds of systems”, so I don’t think I’ll ever run out of ideas to think about, or projects to tinker with.
Anyway, here’s hoping I have a great year ahead! 🙂