God dammit, I didn’t want to blog again. I have so much stuff to do. Blogging takes time and energy and creativity that I could be putting to good use: my novels, my music, my game, and so on. But you get me riled enough, and I have to blog.
Let’s get this over with, then.
I’ll begin with a small but enlightening story from my early days at Google. For the record, I know I’ve said some perhaps unkind things about Google lately, because it’s frustrating when your corporate alma mater makes incompetent business decisions on the regular. But Google’s internal infrastructure is truly extraordinary, and you could argue that there is still none better today. …
Saying Goodbye to the Best Gig I Ever Had
Friday was my last day at Grab, and I wanted to give a quick retrospective, plus tell folks what I’m up to. I didn’t get a chance to say a proper goodbye to so many folks in Southeast Asia, due to Covid shutting down travel. Grabbers, please accept this as my chance to say farewell to you all.
Grab was an incredible adventure. I was there for almost two and a half years, and if it weren’t for the fact that there’s a global pandemic going on, I’d probably still be there. …
Big Fat Disclaimer: I DO NOT SPEAK FOR GRAB. I work there, but these are my own opinions. Not Grab’s.
It’s now been 15 months since I joined Grab, the ride-hailing and financial services Super App giant of Southeast Asia. The time has gone by so fast. I’m on a plane headed back from our leadership offsite in beautiful Kuala Lumpur. And since it’s a bit of a long ride and I don’t have wifi, I thought, hey, I can finally tell you how it’s been going.
I had been hoping to do a 1-year follow-up. But I missed, in part because I work all the time — but also because there’s so much to talk about, that I don’t know how to fit it all into a post you can read in a single sitting. I’ll just hit some highlights and lowlights, and then if you have more questions, shoot me an email or something. …
I’ve never before been inspired to write an essay about a piece of music. This is a first for me; we’ll see how it goes.
Update, April 2020: I did eventually record my special version of it — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VK244wAQ3Qo — enjoy!
You know that feeling when you find a new song or a new piece, and for a while it just consumes you for days, maybe even weeks? Most of us have had that feeling many times. …
This is the story of the first time Jeff Bezos got something spectacularly wrong. It’s the story of why he was wrong, what happened afterward, and what we can learn from it. It’s also the story of how Jack Ma tackled exactly the same problem a few years later, and got it right.
For this particular story, I don’t have all the details. I may get a few things slightly wrong. …
Note: I do not speak for my employer, Grab. These thoughts and opinions are solely my own.
Ten years ago I published a blog post titled, “Get that job at Google”. My basic motivation was that I wanted people starting their technical interviews with the right expectations, and more importantly, bringing their best game.
And everyone got mad. Which is at least sort of funny, given that the first three pages are about how everyone gets mad when you talk about interviewing, so I had all these disclaimers. But no luck. The very next day, some guy posted an angry retort called “Why I would never hire Steve Yegge”, in which he argues — as far as I can tell — that it’s OK not to understand the work of computer scientists as long as you can spell their names correctly. …
Who will steal Android from Google?
Disclaimers: These are my own personal opinions. A lot of them are probably wrong. I do not speak for my employer (Grab!). Take all this with a healthy grain of salt. In fact, don’t even read it.
Here I am, writing a Medium post while on a plane to Jakarta again. This is getting to be a habit.
I’m getting a lot of calls from reporters, asking me for a hot take on my claim yesterday that Google has lost the ability to innovate. And since I’m busy with my new job at Grab, I don’t have time to talk to everyone. So let’s just nip this in the bud here.
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.
Acquisitions happen all the time. Sometimes the safest thing to do is wait for an innovator to become hugely successful, and then use your deep pockets to buy them up. Google buying YouTube, Facebook buying Instagram, and Amazon buying Twitch are all good examples. Nothing wrong with this approach. …
Note: This is my first time using Medium. Please forgive any faux pas. Also, it’s pretty long even for me, so you might want to go grab a coffee. I’ll wait.
Also, please note that these are my own personal opinions: I do not speak for my employers, old or new.
After nearly 13 years at Google, I have finally left the nest! Never thought it would happen. I always thought I would die at Google — maybe choking to death on one of their free chocolate brownies, or maybe finally having a heart attack over YouTube’s increasingly bizarre policy enforcement. …