Thursday, July 26, 2007

Muggling Along in Googleland (and how Punit Soni got to drink the Kool-Aid)

All the views in this blog are mine, only mine, and not of Google's or anyone affiliated to Google..yada yada yada...Need to put this so that I can be a good corporate citizen.

The Kool-Aid
So here I am. I came to work in the morning, gave my car to the valet to park, and then applied for reimbursement for my newly connected Internet (which might be useless since the Google WiFi works very well in my new apt in downtown Mountain View). Then I got down to work and saw this guy called Larry Page walk right by my cube. Reminding myself that is no big deal, I got back to work. Then realizing that my legs were hurting because of the early morning move into my apt, and so I went to a massage chair and got myself some machine love.

So what I am doing now? I am drinking the "Googley" Kool Aid. And no point being cynical about these guys. They are after all, pouring more money back into their employees than most other companies do. Why should we grudge them their riches then?
I came here partly because I wanted to experience the buzz around this company myself and partly because I believe there is a learning here about how to build and run a new age company. And so this experience is an eye-opener.

Me First
The company creed is employees first. This is going to be tested these first few weeks where I float around trying to find something that interests me and that they have an opening for. I want something that makes me happy and useful. But the same process that facilitates that at Google also hinders it.

The Process
In many ways, this is a different from going to a regular company. In a regular company, they hire you, make you sit through orientations that talk about the product suite, culture etc. At Google, you come in, and automagically they assign you to a vertical within the company (there are a few large verticals). And they give you a bit of time to snoop around and you have find something pretty quickly. Now that kind of pressure ensures you learn super fast about what the product suite looks like, what is going on in which part of the company, and what is good for them and you.
If someone thought of this subtleity and then put in this process, then kudos to them. They found the magic potion to ensuring new employees figure out the company in no time. When you butt is on the line, you don't walk, you scamper.

The Glitch
The only glitch is that this ambiguity also carries with it the frustration of being assigned to a division that you may have had no interest in. And then in your first two weeks at work, you run around like a headless chicken trying to convince others that this is not what you wanted to do, and then providing them an alternative with your 1 week's worth of diligence. Which leads to confusion, nervousness and all that.

All in all, I am stressed but having fun. And hoping that things get real fun real soon. I know I will get a couple of very interesting things to do, and so things are good on my end.
However, I do not know if this is the best way to recruit PMs. This way increases the chances that the guy is frustrated. Most PMs I have met have figured their way into what they really want to do in a few months or in a year of being here, but that initial time is pretty chaotic for most. Incorporating some feedback from the guy I am hiring before throwing him into the pool should be rule no. 1 if you want to make your employees happy. Or atleast tell them which division they might end up in before making them sign the dotted line.

I guess I have not drunk enough Kool Aid yet.


Anonymous said...

Man...I don't mean to bring up the past....But I can tell you something from my experience - All companies are the same (I have worked at 5 tech companies via internships & full time exp)....Google is growing very fast and adding a lot of people. Lot of the perks you are talking about will be difficult to maintain as their size increases ! Hence I would set my expectations what to expect from Google in the coming years !
(Personal opinion - You would have enjoyed the env at a VC Firm)

vectorSpace said...

Punit - You blog offers some pretty interesting insights into the thought-process behind making the pure-play VC vs global tech firm decision out of B school.

The post about the recruiting methods at Google is interesting - but don't you think that simply knowing that you'd eventually work in a vertical that would you'd love would reduce the initial frustration that many experience?


Punit Soni's Adventures in VCland said...

I have very similar experience drawn out over some time. I had set similar experiences from this place:)
It has been a trip realizing that many of the cliches are right, and many of the issues that I would have expected are also coming true. I hope I can enjoy the experience here. Venture Capital (now that I am in this mode) is something I gave up on willingly and so have absolutely no regrets. Thanks for reading. I appreciate your comments.
I agree with you completely. If they told you about the vertical, it would really decrease the frustration. However, they tend to just focus on the functional part of the work and there is a lot of flexibility to switch verticals later. This may mean working on a vertical you dont want to in the short term. This can cause a lot of trauma to some folks.

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

Hi Punit,

Google sounds like fun. Are you still planning on doing VC, or on trying to make your own startup after this?

Also, I'm going to be a junior at Wharton this year, and I noticed that you were in the University Venture Fund. Could you inform me as to whether there are any opportunities available at the fund for undergraduates?



Punit Soni's Adventures in VCland said...

I would probably do the latter rather than the former at this point. I am just surrounded by too many bright, entrepreneurial people to pass on that.
On the UVF front, from what I know, we have only recruited from the MBA crowd but I do know that this was supposed to change in the days to come.
Shoot me an email on my personal id and I can fwd it to the relevant people.

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