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Piaw Na
Why I left Google - JW on Tech - Site Home - MSDN Blogs - http://blogs.msdn.com/b...
In such an environment you don’t have to be part of some executive’s inner circle to succeed. You don’t have to get lucky and land on a sexy project to have a great career. Anyone with ideas or the skills to contribute could get involved. I had any number of opportunities to leave Google during this period, but it was hard to imagine a better place to work. But that was then, as the saying goes, and this is now. - Piaw Na
My experience doesn't mirror James'. Clearly Google isn't the same company it was when I joined 7.5 years ago. In some ways it is actually better. If I am going to work at a big company, Google is the best I've seen. Honestly, you couldn't pay me enough to go back to Microsoft. At some point I'll leave Google... but to Microsoft? Of course, the 'you couldn't pay me enough' might be just a figure of speech. I don't know for sure, but I hear that James went back as a level 70 -- that is a chunk of change. Of course I'm sure that had *nothing* to do with it. - Joe Beda
Joe, what does a level 70 mean ? - Space Cowboy
They're cleansed of all operating thetans? - Andrew C (✔)
Ah -- the mysterious Microsoft level system. Back in the old days, they had levels that were pretty chunky and are similar in some ways to Google. Things started at 9 for engineers out of school and everyone was expected to make it to 12. Moving past 12 was hard and those were considered super senior engineers. Lots of times doing that really, practically required moving into management. Note that management at Microsoft at that time might be one guy managing a single other guy. Pretty lame. - Joe Beda
Starting in 2000 (Comp 2000) Microsoft did 2 things. They set the target comp to be higher (75th percentile vs. median for the industry? Don't remember the numbers) and they also expanded the levels. They doubled all of the levels and assigned everyone a new level. New engineers out of school were 59. Level 12 actually got split into three levels -- 63, 64 and 65. - Joe Beda
As Microsoft stagnated, there were much fewer people calling in rich and the pressure on career growth increased. There was a certain amount of grade inflation and a need to provide a reward structure comparable to the old days when the stock was doubling every 18 months. They ended up introducing the 'partner program'. This started at level 68 and the comp is pretty crazy. Also sometime around 2005 (? after my time) they started making some of this stuff more public. There was a standardized translation of level to job title. Up until then it was very mysterious and you had to guess someones level based on who they reported to and the number of reports they had. This ended up distorting the culture in strange ways. - Joe Beda
Now, my understanding is that the partner program is actually limited to something like 700 people. This means that competition to that level is pretty fierce and those guys have to prove themselves. Also, in recent years, they've been working on creating more of a career path for ICs. They aren't there yet but clearly things are improving. - Joe Beda
As for level 70 -- that is the next strata above partner. It is VP level. Comp is really pretty crazy then. I've never been there so I don't have a lot of first hand experience. I think for ICs the title is Distinguished Engineer. - Joe Beda
What's an "IC"? - Andrew C (✔)
IC = Individual Contributor. Meaning an engineer that is concentrating on technology and not management. In my mind it is a good sign if a company has room for high level ICs. This is one of the things that attracted me to Google. - Joe Beda
If I was into testing as much as JW sounds like he is, MS isn't necessarily a bad choice. They have some pretty awesome test technology, e.g. http://queue.acm.org/detail.... Joe, is Dave Cutler still the only senior distinguished engineer? - Private Sanjeev
Yeah -- test is a Big Deal at Microsoft. As for Cutler being a the only senior DE -- I have no clue. It looks like he is a Technical Fellow: http://www.microsoft.com/presspa.... Here is the DE list: http://www.microsoft.com/presspa.... Dave's bio is out of date so this whole thing may be old. - Joe Beda
It's amazing how not minting new millionaires regularly causes a re-jiggling of corporate culture and ladders. :-) - Piaw Na
What are you talking about Piaw, Google still mints new millionaires regularly :) - Private Sanjeev
Yes they do. But in a very weird political way that's opaque. :-) - Piaw Na
It's completely transparent -- just get a Facebook offer :) - Private Sanjeev
The thing with Microsoft and partners is that it is a steady state thing. These people have target comp every year going forward. I get the feeling that Google is doing a bunch of one time grants and such. It is more scatter shot than Microsoft. I can see pluses and minuses to both. The scattershot model seems random and bad for morale but keeps people on their toes to deliver. The steady target comp model encourages complacency. - Joe Beda
No, the new Google secret packages are a steady grant every year. It's a fairly large grant. Of course, getting one requires quite a bit of political skill either on your part or on the part of your manager. - Piaw Na
Heh -- I've only seen/heard about the one time grants. Some of them have been pretty eye popping though. I must not be cool enough :) - Joe Beda
Why do you think I had to start charging for my negotiation services? http://books.piaw.net/negotia... - Piaw Na
I'm pretty sure I'm doing okay. ;) - Joe Beda
I'm sure you are. I'm always surprised by the disparity of pay amongst otherwise similar engineers playing similar roles in big companies. The spread is quite incredible, indicating that ability to play the political game is more important than just about anything else when it comes to pay. - Piaw Na
An interesting thing that I've seen is that the game tends to be different at different companies. For instance, there are plenty of examples of high level managers and engineers at Microsoft that played that game well that flamed out when put in a new environment like Google. It takes time to learn the new game and some otherwise smart people just can't do it. - Joe Beda
That's a phenomena well understood and documented in the book, Chasing Stars: http://piaw.blogspot.com/2010.... Highly recommended reading if you really want to understand the background behind contextual performance. - Piaw Na
Dave Cutler -- Second-hand info: in '07 I was given to understand that he has always wanted the top title, alone. As the organization grew and he had to share it, they created a new one for him, one notch more impressive. Of course, as his bio states, he is "generally considered one of the top programmers worldwide". - Ace