Monday, March 10, 2008

A tough decision

I was at the cash register at Safeway to pay for some groceries when I received a call from Google. After countless interviews, they offered me a Product Manager position in Mountain View. I was so excited that I forgot my groceries and drove off.

After completing my MBA at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, I knew I wanted to go to Silicon Valley to work for one of the large technology companies down there. I launched a couple of startups in Germany and Canada before, so I was ready for a change.

I applied for Product Manager positions at various companies, including Sun, Oracle, Ebay and Paypal. But I felt I was in love: With Google. When I visited the Google offices for the first time, back then three or four buildings on Salado Dr., I knew this company was for me. A piano, colorful gym balls, lava lamps, a skull and crossbones flag on a fun old truck, smiling people, ... all this seemed like paradise to me. The blend of a fun work environment, motivated and skilled people as well as cutting-edge products was what made me decide to move Google up to the top of my wish list.

Google had just completed the move to new buildings on Amphitheatre Pkwy. On my first day, I met a lot of bright people - so many that I had to make a list to remember all the names. My office was right next to one of the VP's. And then the fun started.

During my time at Google, I worked on countless products and features, including Maps, Web Search, Froogle and the core internationalization and localization technologies. I met many many more brilliant Googlers - some of whose names I already knew from the press - and became friends with many. We had so much fun and we were able to learn a lot from each other. The free food, gyms, massages, meeting Al Gore, Robin Williams and many other great people was just the tip of the iceberg.

After 3.5 years at this truly amazing company, I decided to leave Google in fall 2007. Oh boy, it was a tough decision. I was still in love with Google. But I knew I wanted to do my own thing once again to allow full free play to creativity. In September 2007, I launched a startup with friends from all around the globe and am very excited to launch our first product today - a search engine community named "Topicle".

Thank you, Google - I will never forget the stunning time with you.

Steffen, now Xoogler