In a Medium post, former Google engineer Steve Yegge has said he left the company because it can no longer innovate and most Google launches over the last decade have been the result of copying a competitor.
In his blog post, Yegge puts the lack of innovation down to Google incentivising successful feature and product launches, and the easiest and safest way to produce those is by “copying competitors”
He also wrote that Google has become so focused on protecting what they’ve got, that they fear risk-taking and real innovation.
“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,” wrote Yegge.
“They are stuck in me-too mode and have been for years. They simply don’t have innovation in their DNA any more. And it’s because their eyes are fixed on their competitors, not their customers.”
The criticisms Yegge levels at Google could be written about any of its major competitors, such as Facebook – who Yegge accuses of getting “most of its “innovations” from acquisitions” – and Apple, who Yegge simply refers to as “meh”.
On February 9, Apple will launch its HomePod, but with a $349 price tag, the fact that it only works with Apple Music and established alternatives like Amazon’s Alexa and Goggle Home being on the market for a while, it’s not exactly innovative.
“The big name-brand tech companies are almost all operating in the Seattle area, but I think they mostly suffer from the same big-company problems,” wrote Yegge.
I have the nugget of why I disagree in part with Steve Yegge’s latest: selling shovels (and teaching people to pan for gold) may not be glamorous, but it’s a high-leverage position to be in.
Some people want to prospect for adventure; others build tools. Both are okay!
— Liz Fong-Jones (@lizthegrey) January 24, 2018
Yegge has decided to join Grab, a Singaporian ride-hailing app, and said that for a while he has been coming round to the idea that “you can only really get inspiration from startups these days”.
But Yegge’s parting blog post isn’t the first time he has poured scorn on Google’s lack of imagination.
Seven years ago, he took aim at Google for its failure to understand software platforms, with Google+ serving as his whipping boy that time around.
Check out Yegge’s full Medium post here.