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October 12, 2011 at 11:52 AM

Google completely fails to understand platforms, says a Google engineer

Amazon.com’s recruiting process is “fundamentally flawed” and its CEO, Jeff Bezos, “makes ordinary control freaks look like stoned hippies.” But at least Amazon, Microsoft and Apple understand platforms, according to a Google senior engineer and former Amazon employee.

Google+, however, is a prime example of Google’s complete failure to understand platforms, says Steve Yegge, the Google engineer who posted a long rant on Google+ about how Google will end up playing catch-up if it doesn’t start getting platforms.

Yegge, who works at Google’s Seattle-area office according to his LinkedIn profile, had intended his rant to be posted internally, visible only to those at Google, but not externally. He’s since taken the post down at his own discretion, he wrote on Google+.

But another Google+ user has posted the rant (saying he had permission from Yegge to keep it up and would remove it if asked).

Here are some choice bits from Yegge’s post:

“That one last thing that Google doesn’t do well is Platforms. We don’t understand platforms. We don’t ‘get’ platforms. Some of you do, but you are the minority. This has become painfully clear to me over the past six years. I was kind of hoping that competitive pressure from Microsoft and Amazon and more recently Facebook would make us wake up collectively and start doing universal services. Not in some sort of ad-hoc, half-assed way, but in more or less the same way Amazon did it: all at once, for real, no cheating, and treating it as our top priority from now on.

But no. No, it’s like our tenth or eleventh priority. Or fifteenth, I don’t know. It’s pretty low. There are a few teams who treat the idea very seriously, but most teams either don’t think about it all, ever, or only a small percentage of them think about it in a very small way.”

Yegge also said that “Facebook gets it. That’s what really worries me.”:

“Google+ is a knee-jerk reaction, a study in short-term thinking, predicated on the incorrect notion that Facebook is successful because they built a great product. But that’s not why they are successful. Facebook is successful because they built an entire constellation of products by allowing other people to do the work. So Facebook is different for everyone. Some people spend all their time on Mafia Wars. Some spend all their time on Farmville. There are hundreds or maybe thousands of different high-quality time sinks available, so there’s something there for everyone.

Our Google+ team took a look at the aftermarket and said: “Gosh, it looks like we need some games. Let’s go contract someone to, um, write some games for us.” Do you begin to see how incredibly wrong that thinking is now? The problem is that we are trying to predict what people want and deliver it for them.”

In any case, here’s the full rant. And here’s Yegge’s explanation of why he took down his post.

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