Facepalm: Praveen Seshadri, founder of the "no-code development platform" AppSheet, has left Google at the end of a three-year mandatory retention period after his company was acquired by the Mountain View-based giant. The reason, Seshadri explains, is that Google doesn't seem to serve any reason or purpose beyond profit at all.
In a post published on Medium, Seshadri said that he joined Google just before the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, when the internet giant purchased his AppSheet company to build the Google AppSheet service. The AppSheet team joined Google "with great enthusiasm," Seshadri said, but now that enthusiasm is no more because the company has "slowly ceased to function."
In his damning opinion piece, Seshadri revealed how Google is essentially paying some pretty pennies to more than 175,000 "capable" employees, which in turn are getting very little done "quarter over quarter, year over year." They are trapped like mice in a maze, the entrepreneur stated, and the maze is made up of approvals, launch processes, legal reviews, performance reviews, exec reviews, documents, meetings, reorgs, (H1) plans and even more (H2) plans.
Google has turned into a monolithic system, Seshadri said, a bureaucratic moloch designed to train employees so that they would quell their "inappropriate" desires to innovate, get personal (and professional) satisfaction or feel like their work is making some impact. Google's bureaucratic machine makes employees feel what being "Googley" means, i.e., "don't rock the boat" and just work for promotion or money compensation. The mouse isn't in the maze anymore, Seshadri stated, but the maze is in the mouse.
Seshadri said that Google now has four core cultural problems, as a company with "no mission, no urgency, delusions of exceptionalism, mismanagement." The botched launch of the Bard AI chatbot is just the last straw in a long line of failures and haphazard choices, as Google is still fundamentally a "money-printing" machine thanks to its historical advertising business that has kept growing every year, "hiding all other sins" at the company.
As long as the ads are printing money and the stock is going up, no one will care about the cultural problems identified by Seshadri. Before founding AppSheet, the entrepreneur spent more than a decade (from 1999 to 2011) at Microsoft, so he says this isn't his first experience with the slow crumbling of a "dominant empire" in the digital world.
"Very few Googlers come into work thinking they serve a customer or user," Seshadri said, as they just focus on their "closed world" (i.e., the maze) where everyone is "working only for other Googlers." The caustic post of the AppSheet founder is just the latest criticism from a long list of disgruntled ex-Googlers, which in recent years confirmed that Google has no passion, mission or innovation drive anymore. The only thing that seems to run "not like Google" inside the company is Android, which according to Steve Yegge runs "more or less autonomously" as it feels like the most productive and reliable part of the advertising-based empire.