Innovation is an important part of being a leading company in the tech industry. When you’re innovating new ideas and products, you’re often seen as a leader in the field. But often times as companies grow larger, they lose that drive to innovate. Instead, it’s replaced with a need to protect and close ranks on that which has made them successful. Ex-Googler Steve Yegge took to Medium to share why he left Google and much of the reason had to do with lack of vision.
The main reason I left Google is that they can no longer innovate. They’ve pretty much lost that ability. I believe there are several contributing factors, of which I’ll list four here.
The factors he lists are textbook for companies who have grown so much they’ve lost their roots. The four factors are:
- Google is too conservative
- Google is mired in politics
- Google is arrogant
- Google is now 100% competitor focused rather than customer focused
Yegge goes on to say that Google has become a company that copies innovation and rarely creates it. He says that Google is stuck in “me-too” mode:
You can look at Google’s entire portfolio of launches over the past decade, and trace nearly all of them to copying a competitor: Google+ (Facebook), Google Cloud (AWS), Google Home (Amazon Echo), Allo (WhatsApp), Android Instant Apps (Facebook, WeChat), Google Assistant (Apple/Siri), and on and on and on. They are stuck in me-too mode and have been for years. They simply don’t have innovation in their DNA anymore. And it’s because their eyes are fixed on their competitors, not their customers.
Yegge did try and clarify his statement a bit in a follow-up Medium post where he says:
Most big companies don’t innovate at a large scale. It’s normal. You have two perfectly valid alternatives for responding to market shifts: You can acquire the innovator (or one of their competitors), or you can build your own competing product and compete head-to-head.
Google’s problem, in my personal opinion, is that although by and large, they are not innovating (which, again, is normal for big companies), they also aren’t doing the alternatives very well. Their acquisitions have slowed; instead, they prefer to build competing offerings. (Is this arrogance? Sometimes, for sure.)
Both of Yegge’s Medium posts are linked below. The first is a pretty long read but they are both worth looking at when you have the time. His thoughts are probably not going to be popular with everyone but I personally agree with much of what he has to say. Google isn’t going to die anytime soon, but in many ways, it seems like a company that has lost some sight into who they actually are.
Last Updated on January 25, 2018.