Last week, Google engineer Steve Yegge mistakenly posted a rant about his life at Amazon and how his currently employer Google doesn’t get platforms. He quickly made that post private again, but as is common on today’s Internet, it was already going viral. Today, Yegge followed up with some thoughts about what happened and a slightly shorter, more focused rant about Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos. More importantly, though, he also notes that he is still employed at Google (though people “laughed at [him] a lot) and stresses that his post and the subsequent outfall were neither faked nor staged.
The “Great-Granddaddy of all Reply-All Screwups in Tech History”
As others pointed out when the first post appeared, this kind of candor is not unusual at Google, but we don’t often get anything more than a small glimpse of it in public. The reason the post went viral was partly due to this being one of the few times we got a view behind that curtain. While Yegge himself now wants to focus more on what he said about Amazon, it surely helped that Yegge specifically mentioned Google+ as part of the problem later on in his rant. While I’m a big fan of Plus, quite a few people remain very skeptical about it and this rant played right into these feelings.
In his post today, he notes that he has talked to people at Google and points out that the company is “already figuring out how to deal with some of the issues [he] raised.” As I noted in my original post, I think the platform discussion is a vital one to have for Google and I’m also glad to hear that while Yegge was laughed at a lot, he seems to have come away unharmed from what he calls the “great-granddaddy of all Reply-All screwups in tech history.”
(Just as a sidenote: my own post about his rant played no small role in making it go viral. Others had read his post before, but I gather they didn’t get very far and Yegge’s comments about platforms and Google+ only appear about halfway through his 5,000 word post. I was still suffering from jet lag after a trip to Japan and was reading his post at 4am in the morning. Given how early it was, I had nothing better to do than read the whole thing. Then, just as jet lagged as before, I posted a few excerpts at around 6:30am and within minutes, readers started flocking to the post.).
Yegge’s New Post
So what is Yegge talking about today? Mostly his days at Amazon and especially its CEO and founder Jeff Bezos. Bezos’s temper, apparently, is somewhat similar to Steve Jobs’ when it comes to dealing with employees. Yegge’s new posts details how Bezos expects his employees to present new ideas to him (no PowerPoint allowed!) and how current employees should deal with him (“But how do you prepare a presentation for a giant-brained alien?”).
That’s not quite as juicy as his rant about platforms and Google+, but still worth a close read if you are interested in the internal culture at Amazon.
Google's management are not foolish enough to draw additional attention to the story by taking action while the level of interest is still so high. Subsequent posts by the rant author conflict with the clear and thorough criticisms in his original statements, despite prologues suggesting otherwise, and the latest comments bear the hallmarks of officially-sanctioned corporate damage-limitation.
The fact is, the original rant rang true, and echoes what many users are saying. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that staff at the corporation privately express similar criticisms and disillusionment.