This time Fast Company on Google. A fine walk down We’VeHeardThisBefore Lane, but with a few zingers.
The piece turns on the “Can Google Stay Ahead” meme:
Ten years from now, could Google be a vanquished champ while a newer contender takes over its campus? Silicon Valley is a notoriously brutal place. It’s incredibly hard to maintain a lead in technology. As Brin plays in the sand at the “Googleplex,” could there be the next Brin waiting five miles away at the Stanford campus — another obscure but brilliant computer-science graduate student who’ll swiftly reinvent the digital realm? Will slower-moving giants like Microsoft get the time to catch up?
The author, Alan Deutschman, goes on to answer this question, or rather, let Brin and others answer it. (Caveat, I used to work with Alan – he wrote for Wired).
“We’re in a target-rich environment of interesting problems,” says Alan Eustace, one of Google’s handful of vice presidents of engineering and its head of research.
Golly, no kidding. And to his credit, Alan calls Google on it.
Of course, Google is far from the first Silicon Valley powerhouse to cultivate a reputation as a place for the most brilliant engineers. Like its predecessors — Microsoft, Oracle, Apple — Google can be elitist and a bit haughty. Nelson Minar, a midlevel Google engineer, starts off well by saying, “At Google, a lot of people are motivated by the beauty of what they do. A key thing in the engineering culture is a lot of pride in the technical challenge. Larry and Sergey have set the tone that we’re in this for the long run.” But then he realizes too late that he’s sliding into arrogance when he says, “At Google, my assumption when I meet new engineers is they are as good as I am or better. When I worked at other places, the first question was, Is this person worth my time?”
(Thanks for the pointer, Kurt.)