A longtime Google engineer quits, saying the company is '100% competitor-focused' and 'can no longer innovate'

  • Steve Yegge, who worked at Google for nearly 13 years, said the company has become "100% competitor-focused" and unable to innovate.
  • He said its recent product launches — its smart speaker, Home, its chat app Allo and its Instant Apps — copy Amazon Echo, WhatsApp and WeChat, respectively.
  • This isn't the first time he's penned a rant against Google: His screed against Google Plus went viral in 2011.
Steve Yegge
Source: Stanford University | YouTube
Steve Yegge

A Google engineer who just left the company after nearly 13 years criticized it Wednesday for becoming "100% competitor-focused" and said the company "can no longer innovate."

Steve Yegge, who joined Google from Amazon in 2005, wrote a blog post about his decision to quit the company, saying it has become too focused on competitors instead of customers. He said product launches such as its smart speaker, Home, its chat app Allo and its Android Instant Apps copy Amazon Echo, Facebook-owned WhatsApp and WeChat, respectively.

"Google has become 100% competitor-focused rather than customer focused," he wrote. "They've made a weak attempt to pivot from this, with their new internal slogan 'Focus on the user and all else will follow.' But unfortunately it's just lip service."

He said employees don't set aside enough time to regularly interact with customers, instead relying on competitor activity to guide decisions about what people want.

Google declined to comment.

In an email to CNBC, Yegge said: "My only comment is that this was my own personal viewpoint and does not represent the opinions or position of Google."

This isn't the first time that Yegge — known for creating Grok, a service for Google developers — has publicly lambasted the company. In 2011, he wrote a harsh criticism of the social network Google Plus which was meant to be internal but was accidentally posted publicly (on Google Plus). In it, he called Google's attempt at a social network "a prime example of our complete failure to understand platforms from the very highest levels of executive leadership." The write-up circulated widely (even Google co-founder Sergey Brin saw it), but Yegge's posting mistake didn't cost him his job.

He wrote this new blog post after deciding to join the Southeast Asian ride-hailing company Grab — and focuses the second part of it on describing why that company is so innovative.

Although he highlights Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving car company, and TensorFlow, Google's open-source software, as being exciting products, his main point is that Google has lost its ability to innovate as its various rivalries take precedence.

The competition playing out most obviously in recent months has been between Amazon and Google. The two companies have had a race to the bottom on cloud pricing, and spats around their respective smart speakers, with Google blocking YouTube from working on Amazon's FireTV and Amazon refusing to sell Google's products. Google also just launchedits own audiobook service instead of integrating its smart speaker with Amazon's offering.

You can read the rest of Yegge's post here.

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