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Last week I accidentally posted an internal rant about service platforms to my public Google+ account (i.e. this one). It somehow went viral, which is nothing short of stupefying given that it was a massive Wall of Text. The whole thing still feels surreal.

Amazingly, nothing bad happened to me at Google. Everyone just laughed at me a lot, all the way up to the top, for having committed what must be the great-granddaddy of all Reply-All screwups in tech history.

But they also listened, which is super cool. I probably shouldn’t talk much about it, but they’re already figuring out how to deal with some of the issues I raised. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, though. When I claimed in my internal post that “Google does everything right”, I meant it. When they’re faced with any problem at all, whether it’s technical or organizational or cultural, they set out to solve it in a first-class way.

Anyway, whenever something goes viral, skeptics start wondering if it was faked or staged. My accident was neither. While I have no proof, I can offer you what I think is the most convincing evidence: for the last six and a half years, I have never once ragged on Amazon publicly. Even just two months ago, in a keynote talk I gave at a conference, I was pretty flattering when I talked about my experiences there. I’ve always skirted any perceived shortcomings and focused on what they do well.

I still have a lot of friends at Amazon. In fact the place is chock-full of people I admire and respect. And up until now I have prided myself on my professionalism whenever I have talked about Amazon. Bagging on the company, even in an internal memo, was uncharacteristically unprofessional of me. So I’ve been feeling pretty guilty for the past week.

So. Without retracting anything I said, I’d like to paint a more balanced picture for you. I’m going to try to paint that picture via some true stories that I’ve never shared publicly. Nothing secondhand: it’s all stuff I witnessed myself there. I hope you’ll find the stories interesting, because it’s one hell of an interesting place.

Since Amazon started with Jeff, I’ll start my stories with one about Jeff.

Amazon War Story #1: Jeff Bezos

Over the years I watched people give presentations to Jeff Bezos and come back bruised: emotionally, intellectually, often career-ily. If you came back with a nod or a signoff, you were jumping for joy. Presenting to Jeff is a gauntlet that tends to send people back to the cave to lick their wounds and stay out of the sunlight for a while.

I say “presentations” and you probably think PowerPoint, but no: he outlawed PowerPoint there many years ago. It’s not allowed on the campus. If you present to Jeff, you write it as prose.

One day it came time for me to present to Jeff. It felt like... I don’t know, maybe how they swarm around you when you’re going to meet the President. People giving you last-minute advice, wishing you luck, ushering you past regiments of admins and security guards. It’s like you’re in a movie. A gladiator movie.

Fortunately I’d spent years watching Jeff in action before my turn came, and I had prepared in an unusual way. My presentation -- which, roughly speaking was about the core skills a generalist engineer ought to know -- was a resounding success. He loved it. Afterwards everyone was patting me on the back and congratulating me like I’d just completed a game-winning hail-mary pass or something. One VP told me privately: “Presentations with Jeff never go that well.”

But here’s the thing: I had already suspected Jeff was going to like my presentation. You see, I had noticed two things about him, watching him over the years, that others had either not caught on to, or else they had not figured out how to make the knowledge actionable.

Here is how I prepared. Amazon people, take note. This will help you. I am dead serious.

To prepare a presentation for Jeff, first make damn sure you know everything there is to know about the subject. Then write a prose narrative explaining the problem and solution(s). Write it exactly the way you would write it for a leading professor or industry expert on the subject.

That is: assume he already knows everything about it. Assume he knows more than you do about it. Even if you have groundbreakingly original ideas in your material, just pretend it’s old hat for him. Write your prose in the succinct, direct, no-explanations way that you would write for a world-leading expert on the material.

You’re almost done. The last step before you’re ready to present to him is this: Delete every third paragraph.

Now you’re ready to present!

Back in the mid-1800s there was this famous-ish composer/pianist named Franz Liszt. He is widely thought to have been the greatest sight-reader who ever lived. He could sight-read anything you gave him, including crazy stuff not even written for piano, like opera scores. He was so staggeringly good at sight-reading that his brain was only fully engaged on the first run-through. After that he’d get bored and start embellishing with his own additions.

Bezos is so goddamned smart that you have to turn it into a game for him or he’ll be bored and annoyed with you. That was my first realization about him. Who knows how smart he was before he became a billionaire -- let’s just assume it was “really frigging smart”, since he did build Amazon from scratch. But for years he’s had armies of people taking care of everything for him. He doesn’t have to do anything at all except dress himself in the morning and read presentations all day long. So he’s really, REALLY good at reading presentations. He’s like the Franz Liszt of sight-reading presentations.

So you have to start tearing out whole paragraphs, or even pages, to make it interesting for him. He will fill in the gaps himself without missing a beat. And his brain will have less time to get annoyed with the slow pace of your brain.

I mean, imagine what it would be like to start off as an incredibly smart person, arguably a first-class genius, and then somehow wind up in a situation where you have a general’s view of the industry battlefield for ten years. Not only do you have more time than anyone else, and access to more information than anyone else, you also have this long-term eagle-eye perspective that only a handful of people in the world enjoy.

In some sense you wouldn’t even be human anymore. People like Jeff are better regarded as hyper-intelligent aliens with a tangential interest in human affairs.

But how do you prepare a presentation for a giant-brained alien? Well, here’s my second realization: He will outsmart you. Knowing everything about your subject is only a first-line defense for you. It’s like armor that he’ll eat through in the first few minutes. He is going to have at least one deep insight about the subject, right there on the spot, and it’s going to make you look like a complete buffoon.

Trust me folks, I saw this happen time and again, for years. Jeff Bezos has all these incredibly intelligent, experienced domain experts surrounding him at huge meetings, and on a daily basis he thinks of shit that they never saw coming. It’s a guaranteed facepalm fest.

So I knew he was going to think of something that I hadn’t. I didn’t know what it might be, because I’d spent weeks trying to think of everything. I had reviewed the material with dozens of people. But it didn’t matter. I knew he was going to blindside me, because that’s what happens when you present to Jeff.

If you assume it’s coming, then it’s not going to catch you quite as off-guard.

And of course it happened. I forgot Data Mining. Wasn’t in the list. He asked me point-blank, very nicely: “Why aren’t Data Mining and Machine Learning in this list?” And I laughed right in his face, which sent a shock wave through the stone-faced jury of VPs who had been listening in silence, waiting for a cue from Jeff as to whether he was going to be happy or I was headed for the salt mines.

I laughed because I was delighted. He’d caught me with my pants down around my ankles, right in front of everyone, despite all my excruciating weeks of preparation. I had even deleted about a third of the exposition just to keep his giant brain busy, but it didn’t matter. He’d done it again, and I looked like a total ass-clown in front of everyone. It was frigging awesome.

So yeah, of course I couldn’t help laughing. And I said: “Yup, you got me. I don’t know why it’s not in there. It should be. I’m a dork. I’ll add it.” And he laughed, and we moved on, and everything was great. Even the VPs started smiling. It annoyed the hell out of me that they’d had to wait for a cue, but whatever. Life was good.

You have to understand: most people were scared around Bezos because they were waaaay too worried about trying to keep their jobs. People in high-level positions sometimes have a little too much personal self-esteem invested in their success. Can you imagine how annoying it must be for him to be around timid people all day long? But me -- well, I thought I was going to get fired every single day. So fuck timid. Might as well aim high and go out in a ball of flame.

That’s where the “Dread Pirate Bezos” line came from. I worked hard and had fun, but every day I honestly worried they might fire me in the morning. Sure, it was a kind of paranoia. But it was sort of healthy in a way. I kept my resume up to date, and I kept my skills up to date, and I never worried about saying something stupid and ruining my career. Because hey, they were most likely going to fire me in the morning.

Thanks to Adam DeBoor for reviewing this post for potential Career Suicide.
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“Back in the mid-1800s there was this famous-ish composer/pianist named Franz Liszt. He is widely thought to have been the greatest sight-reader who ever lived. He could sight-read anything you gave him, including crazy stuff not even written for piano, like opera scores. He was so staggeringly good at sight-reading that his brain was only fully engaged on the first run-through. After that he’d get bored and start embellishing with his own additions.”

To wit, he once sight-transposed (?) a fugue by Bach into a few different keys... He was pretty damned good indeed. Although as a weird aside, he does concede that C. V. Alkan was a better pianist. So we can only really wonder what-in-the-f*ck exactly Alkan was capable of!

KEEP POSTING REALLY INTERESTING STUFF, YOU SEEM KINDA AWESOME AND GIVE ME HOPE THAT BITCHING ENDLESSLY WILL EVENTUALLY GET ME SOMEWHERE. :) :) :) I wish I worked at Google. :( :( :(
 
Class act by Google for not canning you. ;)
Live and learn, that is all we can do.
 
Good news for you, +Steve Yegge. Your reply-to-all mistake was a very interesting read, and I'm really glad you made that mistake, kept your job, gave your company a good laugh and made things move.
 
another great read +Steve Yegge happy to hear you're continuing your foray into public sharing...
 
It's post like these that make me champion Google. Keep up the great work and inspiring the rest of us!
 
Hey Steve,
I have re-shared your post just in case ;-)
 
If I were into publishing, I would be at your doorstep right about now for a book deal. You write ridiculously well. There's no way I would ever read text that long if it wasn't the most engaging thing I could do in 5 mins.
 
Great posts, both this and the last one (the one that got away...). Happy to hear about the reactions of your fellow Googlers! I think this is mainly good publicity for Google anyway, since it shows the open (at least internally...) and allowing culture of the company.
 
+Jonathan Hahn : getting rid of outspoken heretics is what short sighted, self-imbued companies (or rather executives) do. Let's hope this is not only a PR cover of either, which indeed would look like a class act instead of an intelligent move.
(though I doubt it, Steve seems genuine and Google isn't known for their temple of executives worship approach)

Steve, you are my most interesting + stream contributor.
 
IMHO you should repost the "missing link" now... or is thsi post for all the Bezzoses out there that can figure it out :)
 
Another great post, Steve. Thanks for that!

I'm delighted that there have been no serious repercussions from your earlier share. Please do keep posting! It's always a very, very good read!
 
+Steve Yegge , you sure you are a software guy? I am thinking more and more that you are an author ... please keep up the good work. At this rate, I am already looking forward to your first book ... "Foray into the unknown, a collection of rants by a corporate warrior" ... :-)
 
Were are the other stories? You even numbered this as story #1.
 
Great news about the reaction, did you delete every third paragraph in this post too? Just to keep ole Jeff interested?
 
I wish I could write like this guy. I just finished 20 months building software for Amazon, and I wish I had had Steve's insight. 
 
Okay, I love your honesty and sincerity, but seriously, like Sergey said in the Web 2.0 Summit video, if you want people to read your stories, you need to cut them down to a screen or two at most. Although I'd love to read about Amazon, it's a bit late at night so I will wait until another time to tackle the epic. :) "Back in the mid-1800s ..." :D I see I am not the only one who find that hilarious. LOL

You work for a great company. Good on you mate.
 
+Rob Baines Nope, I kept my all paragraphs today. I am a paragraph packrat!

I'll post some more stories sometime, whenever I get time. I have a bunch. Years of jaw-droppingly unusual stories. Amazon is an astoundingly interesting business. You have no idea the stuff that happens behind the scenes to get you those brown boxes!
 
The stuff about how Bezos has insights from his general's perspective, and Liszt, and deleting every third paragraph is very entertaining.

But surely many people must laugh during the presentations.
 
+Vic Gundotra Google rocks! Google Rocks because you & +Sergey Brin spoke publicly about this in the interview on Web 2.0, and because +Steve Yegge is still at Google, and because Google is seriously examining & incorporating stuff he suggested.

That is a strong sign of a well-managed company with senior management comfortable with the concept of examining criticism with critical thinking skills instead of gut emotional responses.

That makes me proud of a company I have invested a few bucks (damned few bucks) in.

Google doesn't do everything perfectly, I have my own gripes, but Google does an excellent job of self-correcting: Yet another sign of mental maturity.
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+Niniane Wang Amazon is a very serious place. Very, very serious. Bezos presentations are not a time for laughter. It's hard to convey how much pressure there is. Amazon is at war. This will be what my next story is about.
 
And another reason why I want to work at Google someday!

Thank you though for reminding us without realizing it, that there are better things out there and we shouldn't always hold ourselves in.
 
+Steve Yegge Have you thought of writing a book? Your experience in Amazon? Distill the stories with some business practice wisdom and you can have a best seller. Just a thought, seriously.
 
What a great read. Proof that preparing for the worst and expecting the best really works. It also looks like you live everyday like it's your last.......day at work.
 
I'm glad they didn't send you to mine Helium-3 on that google moon base.

Great "platform" rant, although I did feel a bit guilty reading a rant that wasn't meant for wider audience.
 
This is the second viral post I know from you. The first one was a blog entry on how to get a job at Google. Your writing style is very good. Hope to read more from you in the future!
 
Another great post. It would be cool to see more writing from you!
 
Honestly: you should post more, about anything! (but sneak peaks or product feedback would be great :P)
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Steve, I've been writing for most of my professional career. I consider myself pretty good at it.

You are seriously a very gifted writer. It extends far past your domain knowledge and unique perspective on issues. You have an uncanny ability to both inform and entertain.

That is why I left your post up last week. I had no idea it would go viral and I thought many times about taking it down, because the whole thing got so out of control. I really didn't want to see you get hurt. Thank you for allowing us to keep it out there.

But the truth is, as I said last week, sometimes you see something so well done that it transcends the situation of its creation. It becomes important in its own right.

I deeply hope that you continue writing about our industry, and I am grateful that no harm came to you professionally as a result of your post.
 
This post answered one of the most difficult questions I had, How to talk to someone who will outsmart you!!
Thank you.
Please keep posting more awesome stuff like this.
 
I'm not quite sure I would characterize this "war story" as something positive about Amazon. If the VPs are this scared of the CEO, then it says Amazon is a crappy place to work at, the VPs are a bunch of idiots or both.
 
This is a really great entry about the toll it takes when working for genius. Working among brilliant people (as I am blessed to do, as a software developer in the visual effects industry) is exhilarating - but ever so often there is that one person that you know outshines everything you do... You who most people think of as a pretty smart guy. If working in a crowd of really smart peers is exciting, working under a giant-brained alien is a whole new experience.

Oftentimes, they're not that tuned in to human affairs: and it makes them threatening, unnerving, even intimidating. I've had one boss that was like that, and I've worked with the director David Fincher on several occasions who is most assuredly that same sort of giant-brained alien: both were absolute delights to work with, so long as you did your part to scamper along and try to keep up. No matter how hard they may be to work for, at times, it is rewarding in ways that are difficult to express: but you did a wonderful job.
 
Straight shooter with top management written all over him!
 
Ah bless you, it must have been a hell of a week. If it's any consolation, when we first got a paint facility on our company IM system, a colleague created a 'hilarious' doodle of a pair of hairy bollocks for his friend, which he accidentally sent to all. He'd helpfully labelled it in an anatomically correct fashion, and funnily enough, top management acted pretty swiftly on that one too.
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Did he just say Liszt was "famous-ISH"?!
 
+Ash Nallawalla - That employee wasn't fired. It looks more like the employee was touching on Google's future plans, which would undoubtedly have been categorised as Gross Misconduct, and understandable that he would have take it down under law, or lose the job. He also stated that Google had been 'pretty cool' about it.
 
+Eddie Offermann good comment there about +Steve Yegge's post. Thanks for sharing. I am convinced geniuses are all aliens. During hour long meetings, they'd stare right through you almost as if you've lost them, but you haven't because they heard every single thing you just said, except in a different language... and then then suddenly the color comes back to their face and then they respond by asking you, in ancient Egyptian, what the f*** you're talking about and how you are the one who's not getting them.

Aaaah. I live for those moments.
 
+Ruth Lopardo OMG. Wow. :D I'm laughing so hard I went into a death-rattle style coughing fit. Ahhh, the wonders of technology.
 
+Steve Yegge most of us here knew u were still gonna' be at Google after that post. Your post reminded us about being honest and true to your beliefs and never send an internal message via a medium you are, as you put it, "inexperienced", in. And check thr CC lists all the time before clicking "Send / Share / Shoot Me Already".

All the best, man.
 
I knew you would be just fine, whether inside or outside Google. Google did a terrific move by not attacking the messenger and taking the hit maturely. They took advantage of this so well that people are starting to think that this was all planned out from the beginning.

When you posted the rant, a lot people read your post as if you were reading their minds (mine included). You are just one smart guy with a big mouth and the guts to put his career on the line for his beliefs. I really doubt Googlers internal communications are addressing Sergei and Larry the way you did. We love that Google still have those guys standing for plattform sanity, standing for developers, standing for change inside.

Please don't stop posting. You have a hilarious way of writing. We all get excited when reading your rants. You write with so much honesty, heart and passion that we think we might get in trouble by just reading you. We want that.
 
Most entertaining read I've seen on G+ yet. Do not stop writing these!
 
First off, I found this post from reddit (as I suspect many commenters here did) and read it before I read the corresponding post. I found the Bezos story quite amusing, if not educational. Of course, I'm always partial to Princess Bride references...even though the movie is older than I am.

That said, as the original post has been removed, I suppose the only appropriate place to comment on it is here. As I am only a senior in undergrad, I have limited experience with the internal side of that, but the experience I do have leaves me with the dilemma of "how does one execute a high-five online?" Although I cannot say that I always design my software as user-friendly and modifiable as possible -- most things I write are for my use for classes -- I will say that I could not agree more with the sentiment.

one last note: I agree with +Rip Rowan; +Steve Yegge, you have a certain gift for prose. Felt like I was reading Neal Stephenson for a bit...but maybe that connection is the insomnia talking.
 
This looks a lot like damage limitation.

The original rant was brilliant, well thought-through, had the ring of truth, and was insightful.
 
I am thinking Google left you alone because you probably drove 10 million new users to Google +.
 
Steve - don't be worried about getting fired for doing stupid shit like this reply-to-all mother of all screwups. I'm SURE there are thousands of managers out there who would hire you in an instant for doing this .. ;)
 
Google's management know better than to draw additional attention to this with punitive action. First, there will be damage limitation, including this post. Any action taken will be carefully managed and won't take place until interest in this has faded considerably.
SL B
 
Well, on with the war stories. Enjoyed the wall of text rant but this one is nice too.
 
This wall of text has been such a joy to read! Somehow, I'm glad you made that reply-all mistake.
 
Where can I go for your fist book's pre-order form? First in line...
 
Thoroughly enjoyed the read. Hopefully the first entry in what will undoubtedly become an entertaining and educational series.
 
Amazing read. Please write a book, and keep these coming
 
Thanks Steve for the laugh first thing in the morning. The thing I have found with people like Bezos is they want to be challenged and they will generally respect it unless you're being a complete moron.

They understand it is ok to make mistakes as long as you fix them as you did.

The other point is good for any presentation, be concise, for Bezos yeah take out every third paragraph but for everyone else like me just shorten it until it cannot be shortened any more. I will ask when I see missing information.

I have this problem when I'm presented to I research first and it is a problem because I get bored in the presentations meaning I'm never really paying attention. At some stage I will ask for an innocent opinion and then when they give it to me I challenge it simply to test if they believe in what they are saying, about 80% of the time the person caves even if they are right.

So I identify with Bezos, just always hold your ground and believe in your presentations.
 
Yeah, there's a book in you wanting to be written. Make that a priority. Like you said, getting fired is always lurking around a corner!
 
thanks for sharing, great insights!
 
No worries man - we've all done it. The way you've handled things shows a lot of composure; and Google is lucky to have someone as passionate about their work as you are (speaking as someone who has written similar memos - we can smell our own).
 
War stories was one of the funniest parts of working as a consultant programmer, both the telling and the listening - and it was educational, too. But adequate discretion was always a thorny issue :)
 
Good to know they took it for what it was, as criticism of the constructive kind stemming from love!
 
+Steve Yegge I'm curious. Do you write out the presentation and then read it to him or hand it over and he reads it to himself?

Yours is a great approach to presenting to superiors even if they're not as clever as Jeff.
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Steve is the master of the TL;RA: Too Long, Read Anyway.
 
There is some true genius in your approach to people at the top of an organization. People always seem to forget that they achieved their position for a reason and they still like a challenge. Awesome.
 
I love your writing. Even self-censored it is really good stuff. If they ever can you, you've set yourself up for a nice gig at TechCrunch.
 
+Rip Rowan -- Thanks for the kind words, and no worries at all about leaving it up. By the time it became apparent that it was going to be viral, there was no point in anyone taking it down. I haven't reposted because yours has become the de-facto canonical location for links. Also it feels like it would be sort of belligerent of me to re-post it: a bit like saying I had really intended for it to be external. So I prefer to have it live right where it is at this point, in your stream.

Amusingly, the platforms rant was #2 of a ten-part series I'd planned. I had already posted one internal diatribe a month before on a different topic. I had 8 more in the queue. Now who knows if I'll ever write them. This one was too successful.
 
+Steve Yegge Funny, you proved my theory. We were talking about it on a show and I said this might be a very common thing. They might have 10 of these a week and this one just leaked. Some people use their 20% time to invent light bulbs. Steve uses his to rant. LOL
 
Thanks a lot for sharing your experiences. It is really interesting to get the unfiltered stories of what is going on in these companies. I am seriously thinking about calling out a few elephants in the room more often than I have in the past. Thanks for the inspiration.
 
Work each day as if it's your last day on the job ;)
 
While I miss Stevey's Blog Rants... "Steve's + Diatribes" are nearly as good (:
 
Thanks for sharing this story, Steve. I'd love to read more about your experiences.
 
I fully enjoyed your mistakingly published rant. But of course Google did nothing "bad" to you. It would be a PR nightmare! And come on, you think we're naive enough to think that Google hasn't prodded you to talk nicely about Amazon now as a nice little dustpan and broom cleanup effort?
 
I wonder what Jeff thinks after reading this post?
 
I really enjoyed this. It was trending on Reddit and I clicked through figuring it'd be some kind of lame post CYA post. Instead, it was enlightening--an easy read, full of insight. I loved learning how you went about preparing for the Bezos presentation--not just creating a good presentation, but looking at the big picture, thinking about who you'd be presenting to and then creating something specifically for him.

Also, re: your original post, I thought the API issue was huge. After a few weeks I was banging my head against a wall--trying to incorporate Google+ into my daily routine, but having to jump through hoops in order to do so. The fact that an API hadn't been released within a few weeks of Google+'s debut blew my mind. I'm glad it's finally out, but I hope it's not too late. There was a ton of momentum and I still think Google+ has the potential to be a big social media player, particularly for business--especially for discussion and the sharing of ideas. But it would have been great to capitalize on the momentum early on by making it easier for people to incorporate G+ into their daily routines. It's still possible now, but it's going to be more of an uphill battle.

In any event, thanks for this post. It was an enjoyable start to my morning.
 
So, what's the point of even trying to present to Jeff, if he already knows everything? I don't get it...
 
Excellent read, the "gladiator movie" line left me laugh-choking on my breakfast.
 
seriously, your wall-of-text rants > *
:)
 
+Steve Yegge Looking at all this from outside the box, I think you may be single handedly showing how compelling a blog platform G+ is, complete with very transparent metrics, and lively discussions. Facebook can't touch this! Already this post has been shared 255 times. This is dogfooding squared (darn! G+ can't do Tex).

I salute you! Looking forward to more powerful posts from you. Your posts make most Tech Writings seem high school essays, written with the girlfriend waiting!
 
I must agree with the masses, you are a fantastic writer. I generally hate walls of text, but had a lot of fun reading. Respect to Google for having a sense of humour!
 
+Steve Yegge again another beautiful, well written and entertaining insight. Please go on like this Steve, I am quite sure we'll hear your name next to other big ones in the near future.
 
Thanks for sharing. Keep up the good work.
 
Have you heard from Mr. Bezos?
 
The Liszt of Presentations. Metaphor of the year.
 
Great story. There are a lot of similarities here as with +Joel Spolsky's spec review with Bill Gates (http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2006/06/16.html). I guess the take away here is that it isn't an accident that these guys got to the top of their respective heaps and you neglect that at your own peril. "Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning"
 
Could you post your presentation on what are the skills a generalist engineer should have in his arsenal !?
 
Wow. I wouldn't want to work for Jeff Bezos. Not because he's smart, which I believe he is, but because (at best) he tolerates the fact that he terrifies the people who work for him and (at best) tolerates the fact that his VPs can't even laugh without his cue. At worst he enjoys it.
 
Great read, keep the posts long!
 
Thank you, Steve. Your first post cemented the importance and role of platforms in a current project. This post explains completely why I flubbed my interview with your colleagues on the public policy team. My takeaway: Assume your audience is smarter than you. Then proceed accordingly. Thanks!
 
Great post, I'm looking forward to the next one.
 
I read the first bit and skipped everything about amazon. awesome
 
I just found and reposted your original. Reading this made me seek it out not for the controversy (I'm not a drama fan) but because your writing style is fantastic. Clear, engaging, a great story-teller. Bezos didn't flame you then because you're clearly one of those people who can see the trees and the forest. Google shouldn't fire you, they should thank themselves for hiring you and promote you...*fast*.

And do write that book. The world (not just Google or Amazon) needs more of this analysis.
 
For people who have read both this response and your original rant, I'd like to add something: bitching gets you nowhere. You get somewhere by providing actionable information AND by showing willingness to do something about the problem yourself. I think Steve does both.

I really miss TGIF. For those of you who have not worked at Google, TGIF is the friday event at Google where Larry, Sergey and all of the top brass present this weeks accomplishments and answer questions. At this event many Googlers would raise issues. Sometimes being very critical. The thing was: if you raised an issue you had to be prepared to be part of the solution as well. This is what transforms mere "bitching" to productive involvement.
 
+Tim Acheson made a good point. In management terms, they think you are a "loose cannon". I do want to be harsh or rude, but some reports I've read about Google, they may start doing a brain dump of you. In 12 months time you maybe looking for a new role. Good Luck.
 
thanks for the stories, I am about to join Amazon and hopefully I won't have to present to Jeff for a while. thanks for writing something interesting enough to actually use G+
 
This story and the result in what Google thought about it, make me like Google even more then before.
 
I enjoyed reading the "rant" and this post. Insightful and inspiring. Thanks
 
Great recovery. Looking for more of your articles. Keep them coming!
 
Really liked the original post and you show with this one a very positive and innovative way of damage control. Thanks for sharing your opinions and please let your war-stories continue.
 
You're amazing dude, thanks for all this!
 
if you don't feel like you are about to get fired everyday...you aren't doing anything innovative or unique.
 
+Bob Aman nailed it. +Steve Yegge, if you ever cut every third paragraph out of something that I get to read, I'll come to your house and demand the paragraphs back.
 
Please entertain the thought of pursuing a movie or publishing deal. Everything you write is extremely engaging.
 
a comment widely revered by many techies i'm sure :-)
 
Steve Yegge is my new favorite writer. That was just about the most interesting "wall of text" I've ever read on g+
 
I vote Google taking another look at Wave tech in at least G+. Which would help because this thread clearly shows why we need threaded comments like the Wave client.
 
If someone who works at Google had a hard time figuring out Google+ share features, maybe it's time Google changed them. I like the drop-down menu on Facebook on who you want to share your post with.

I'm sorry you went through that, and I was in a similar situation where my thoughts were exposed at work many years ago. A co-worker had found a letter I wrote that fell out of my purse telling a friend that I was pregnant and some other embarrassing details. Instead of giving me back the letter, she gave it to my boss to read. I hadn't told anyone at work yet and I was to be a single first-time parent. But I think your story tops mine. ;) Hang in there, it sounds like Google has been very understanding.
 
You obviously don't need me to remind you of this, but I'll do it anyways. Don't worry about folks who tire of text longer than a tweet, +Steve Yegge. The average piece you write gets good about halfway in and ties back to everything else, making one glorious hole the whole thing worthwhile.
 
Hey, about Google fixing up the issues, please allow aliases! I'm tired about having to hide my posts from my family and my friends because they're controversial. If I could just create separate identities (which shouldn't be able to be tracked down to my public profile) and have separate circles for each one of them, I would feel much safer.
 
Yegge, you've basically invented a reason for me to look at Google+ -- you.
 
The pen might be mightier than the sword ... but you are wielding a mega tron-o-matic 2433 Z43 clackerblaster! bloody brilliant
 
Wait.. what? +Steve Yegge tell me how Google is fixing those problems??? Because that rant you posted was one of the biggest wake-up calls I've seen... not just for G ..but for all who build solutions!
 
Good stuff. Also timely, since tomorrow is the 200th anniversary of Liszt's birth.
 
Hi Steve,

I'm very glad your post wasn't career limiting - I think it says a lot about your employer.

Your original post made a lot of sense in the context of the desktop world.

You are right to say that Facebook had a killer app before it opened its API's to become a platform. The consequence of the killer app was network effects (e.g. 32 people to the power of 5 equals 30 Million, the level at which Facebook opened its APIs) and it was the consequence of these network effects that made it attractive to developers. A virtuous circle ensued.

However, in the mobile world, the opposite applies. Android IS a platform.

Android has no killer apps, at least none that are owned by Google. Google's core products are available on Android but they are not integrated. The Google search widget can be easily deleted and the user can set Bing, for example, as their homepage on the browser.

And Android has no means of creating network effects (although it doesn't need them - its route to market is business-to-business, not business-to consumer).

The question is whether this platform-only strategy, which has worked so well in shipping unit volumes of Android via business-to-business channels, is the best long term strategy. A parallel strategy would see Google start to integrate (as opposed to just offer) its products (such as Google Talk) into Android.
Both approaches have risks.

• Keeping Android as a platform means it has an uncertain long term revenue stream.

• Integrating Google products means it is picking its own products as winners.

I have my views on what the strategy should be, but I wouldn’t want to put them in the public domain :)

Best regards,

MB
 
"never ragged on Amazon publicly? I don't know about that, but it was certainly the most explicit you've been. Search your blog rants for "Amazon" if you really think you've been cautiously neutral. Anyway, good job on another well-thought-out post.
 
Entertaining anecdote; I appreciate it, although not nearly as much as last week's slip-up.

I'm glad to hear the Google is taking your platform criticism to heart; I know that's the company line, but I wasn't sure if it was actually going on. I lost a whole lot of respect for +Sergey Brin when I heard him say on Wednesday: "[H]e hasn't bothered reading the whole post because he thought it was too long. 'Sometimes, I use it as a night-time aid'". Great job as CEO... one of your employees has a serious concern, but you can't be bothered to read it because it's too long? Classy.
 
Thank you. I'm starting my day feeling as if I'm in a very small and very fortunate group of: "People Who Presented to Jeff Bezos and Were Not Eviscerated". Keep writing, it's just so entertaining to read your opinions.
 
+Steve Yegge Funnily enough, the thing I like best about Google+ is that it isn't a platform as much as Facebook. I like that I don't have to deal with farmville spam, a billion-and-one irrelevant news feeds and I can easily control who my posts go to. Google+ may not achieve the success that Facebook has, but is that necessarily a bad thing? As long as it achieves some success at all, it can be considered a good product and nobody says you can't have a Facebook AND a Google+ account.
Google+ feels much like Facebook did at the beginning, when Myspace was chock full of artist spam and ugly, ugly pages. Give Facebook some time to implode and Google+ will start to see more users.
 
Everyone is afraid to even talk to Jeff Bezos but you've learned you can be openly critical of Google and the company tries to learn from that. I don't think that makes Jeff sound great as judged by there's not a single positive comment about Jeff and Amazon among these comments.
 
An honest, clever and entertaining read; so I had to add you to my circles!
 
If you're as good a engineer as you are a writer, Google is damn fortunate to have you.
 
Thanks for sharing, Steve. I really liked your general-on-the-battlefield analogy. It's ironic, though, that even such a general will bow down to an intern at certain US Senator's office...
 
Google's response to your "Wall of Text" is one of the Valley's secret best practices. Used it to stimulate a piece based on your rant at my blog www.workingwider.com
 
Excellent article!

And great news that Google is actually listening to your ideas rather than booting you out the door for opening your mouth..
 
You are a FANTASTIC story teller! Thanks for this. Made me think about my life.
 
Great story and you are a fantastic story-teller. Your prose is hype-readable and a fun ride. Thanks for sharing this!
 
Honestly, your rant proved to me that at least SOMEONE at Google is smart enough to know that Google+ is just a crippled, ill-defined social media wannabe until it gets an API. They should have given you a raise.
 
When I read your original post, to my surprise I ended up reading the whole thing. And then I read this one too... I'm thinking a book might not be a bad idea
 
Your good.. you should just hang yourself for leaving Amazon... :)
 
Awesome story, why hasn't Bezos received the amount of attention Steve Jobs had? I think his turn is next.
 
Can you PLEASE start doing this on a weekly basis? I would read your Google+ "show" on the tech industry every week without fail. You can even put advertising all over this page and make money from it - I'm fine with that, just please keep doing this!
 
Dear Miss South Carolina: I just want to say I love this. Would love to hear more authentic war stories. And yes, I was one of those who think the original post was staged. I think you've won me over.
 
Loved the story. Thanks for this great insight and congrats for keeping your job yet again.
 
Awesome. Thanks for the war story.
 
Please keep writing these! G+ is such a good medium for posts like this. We miss not having posts on your blog!
 
I'm glad to hear good things came of this happy accident. This and your earlier post have been quite enlightening. I wish this kind of honest evaluation happened more often.
 
Good stuff, Steve. A very elegant reply. And, this post did more to tell me about Amazon than your previous post.
 
so Bezos isn't just an asshole who doesn't know how to treat the people who work for him, instead he's just way too smart and we should all bend to his will? what a joke. from how much you kiss his ass here (when you meant for this to be public) vs the earlier post (that you meant to be private) i have a feeling there is some pc/office politics going on...
 
Is it possible the REAL Bezos has been retired for years and living like a king in Patagonia?
 
hey remember what sergey said about making your point in a paragraph or so?
 
I've been approached by Google twice. I'm a library and framework developer, and the seeming lack of interest in "eating your own dog food" at Google is one of the biggest reasons why I have never followed up on those points of contact.
 
Time to write a "hide-every-3rd-paragraph-from-Yegge's-posts" Chrome extension.
 
I feel your pain. Once I did a reply-all to the legal department clarifying a click bot is a robot and not fraud until it's been investigated and proven fraud. Until then it's called discounted clicks.
 
Steve I, for one, would be /very/ interested in hearing what else was included on your presentation about what a technology generalist should know!
 
being an English major, i was forced to be succinct with my thoughts. later on, i realized that people just don't have patience so being brief and to the point gives you points. these days, i notice that a lot of people just ramble on without coming to a conclusion. so cutting down things helps a lot in presentations, which a guy like Bezos who probably has very little time, prefers.
 
Isn't there a Google labs feature that prompts you to check if you really want to 'reply all'? If so (or if not), there needs to be a similar feature available for Google+. :)
 
Just curious, but what were "the core skills a generalist engineer ought to know"?
 
Apparently, anything but Data Mining or Machine Learning ;D
 
I learned similar skills across wireless companies and at Microsoft, presentations to CEO's and other C Level exec's should be like a mini-skirt; long enough to barely cover the topic, but short enough to keep things extremely interesting.

Great read and glad no fall out happened from the rant. Hopefully they realize that your facts outweighed the impact.

Oh and I love the 1:20 AM posting, you definitely are a dev...
 
And apparently nobody else can read between the lines to see how you're ameliorating your prior post? Hmm. Strange world.
 
The Golden Rule of Economics: Incentives Matter. The Golden Rule of Presenting: Brevity Matters.

Over the years I've had my share of really spectacular presentation 'crash & burn' moments. During the recovery periods as I leaned heavily upon the healing powers of the fermented grape, I came to a realization of senior leaders similar to what I read here about one Mr. Jeff Bezos: these folks are really f'ing smart. In any presentation, by the time I've spoken the first word on a PowerPoint page, these people have not only grasped the entire subject but they've already found what's missing and are either 100 thought-years ahead of me or pretty much already know how the presentation will conclude, or both. Like Steve, I expect I've missed something. My only fear is of when will it occur and how many times will it occur. But in the end, I realize I literally only have a few minutes of the senior exec's precious time.
 
Great insights, and kudos to google for listening instead of knee-jerk reacting.
 
+Gary Bloom - well said gary.. it annoys me when they mention wealth of a person on Wikipedia (almost all businessmen).
+Steve Yegge how much time you have dude
 
Well +Steve Yegge, inadvertent or not, there have been serious repercussions from your reply-to-all rant. Your getting the Royal Circle Jerk. I don't have time for this nonsense and yet I'm following you now along with (I'm sure) thousands of new G+rs. Totally entertaining, totally illuminating. and you clearly don't have to worry about having a job, even if they do boot you when the clamor abates.
Stay Well & Thanks
 
Steve, there was nothing in your original post that wasn't 100 percent true. In fact, I commend you for recognizing it and, equally impressive, is the fact that Google has taken such comments seriously and will be acting upon it. You wrote candidly and it was from the heart of someone hoping to see much greater things from a company whose reputation in the Valley is stellar. It's comments like yours that, as a manager, I value. I would value it more if it weren't publicly stated, but, how Google handles this will only show what a "class act" this company really is. Stressful for you, I know, but very enlightening (in a good way) for all of us here in the ether.
 
Thanks for the insights, you just gained a fan.
 
Man just speak the truth, we all know that big brother has reigned you in and is watching your posts now.
 
I've always felt that Amazon was a blend of Google and Apple but couldn't pin down why. This pretty much explains that one.
 
+Jered Floyd As a former Googler, I can attest that what Sergey said was almost certainly an example of his sense of humor, which tends to be that sort of deadpan style. Heck, as I recall, I believe Steve has self-commented that he writes long, and I think I recall having a brief email discussion with him about it.
 
enjoyed your insider encounter description. Did not realize that Google has such talented people.
 
Well, now you're a Google celebrity - right behind Sergey, Brin and... that grey haired dude :P
"We will watch your career with great interest."
 
This guy has balls. Pure awesomeness. (bow)
 
+Steve Yegge Google looks good for actually listening and seeing if there is merit to what you stated. You got a hell of a lot of slack because Google is a really good company, they do value their good employees, and after the initial "WTF!?" they probably calmed down and evaluated what you were actually saying. However, check who you're sharing with before hitting "post", noob. :)
 
That question about Data Mining and Machine Learning proves how clever Bezos is. For me, the latter is the Holy Grail of AI, except most people don't know that yet.
 
I for one am so glad that it went viral. I think that google does things right too. But I do see google+ lagging behind facebook big time. And I'm all for anything that will light a fire under google and make them more competitive.
 
And perhaps that bring us to what I originally wanted to comment on your initial post, +Steve Yegge , before it was pulled out that is. The fact is: Machine Learning is a core algorithm of Google's power, and they made it available to external developers through the Prediction API among others (the Translate API also uses it). In addition, it can scale with Google's infrastructure, and Google App Engine is also available.
So, on that very point, I disagree with your assessment that Google has not or is not doing enough on the Platform front. Documentation can certainly be improved as are support for newer Python versions, and also removing limitations on input files for Prediction API.
Then it will remain to be seen what people build out of these. The platform is here, it's powerful.
 
Something I don't understand...you dumped all over Google, who remarkably forgives you, and your reaction is to come on here and provide everyone with a flattering story about Jeff Bezos? Really?

Kudos to Google for being understanding.
 
Glad they let you live :). It was a good read, definitely worth letting others know about how the 2 larger(est) companies do on the net.
 
"zzzz", what what, OK, I'm awake now. Your "Dread Pirate Bezos" attitude speaks to so many philosophical ideas I don't know where to begin, but suffice it to say that those who live life in fear don't really live. To that end this note was not nearly as poignant as your internal rant. I really want transparency not from you about Amazon, but about Google. When are they going to fix this thing (Google+)? Where are the apps? Where is the culture? How can normal people add one more social networking site to their already cluttered digital lives? Why should it be Google Plus and not Facebook? What works better Google + or Facebook on people's iPhones? Where is the killer app?
 
This looks like more "night aid" for Sergey. Still interesting ;) Glad to see you're still there!
 
I had a similar moment with Tom Siebel. The gasp from around the table, and then the silence before that laugh is the best part in retrospect. Great story. Please, please keep them coming.
 
FTR: Franz was most likely an Great-great-great (keep going) great-uncle of mine... Keep hoping some of that genius will wear off on me... ;-D
 
i worked for google on the GT project, and i can definitely say that i have to agree with "When they’re faced with any problem at all, whether it’s technical or organizational or cultural, they set out to solve it in a first-class way." every project manager and more were MORE than helpful and great listeners
 
+Steve Yegge I think you're the most famous googler these days, next to Larry Page, Sergey Brin and a few other big ones :) Of course they listened. I'm eager to see the results!
 
Ignore the people who say "tl;dr", and keep on writing.
 
+Steve Yegge an entertaining read (both your original rant and this "correction". Might I suggest that you might be exaggerating the almighty Bezos' capabilities just a tad... we tend to do that from time to time for people who are only worshiped form afar... especially in the corporate world.
 
I have been a 'fan' since the epic java kingdom post. Now that was a wall of text.
Bo Yang
 
OK, what's your list of "core skills a generalist engineer ought to know" ? I'm sufficiently interested in this that I created a google+ profile just so I can comment here.

I have some experience with machine learning and data mining and I don't see why they should be on the core skills list, because I think they're (large) specialized areas like AI and computer vision.
Chris H
 
No matter how special you think you might be, and this includes Jeff Bezos... we all still poop.
 
It sounds like things really turned out for the better, +Steve Yegge. Glad to hear that.
 
Walls of text are actually pretty awesome. In the past people had this neat trick where they folded and cut them few times to keep them manageable. It was called a book. May be you should think about one :)
 
Well done for undoing your gaffe with class.
 
Found you from Web 2.0. Hadn't read either posts before tonight. Appreciate both. You have a take and tell a nice story. I think you take some of the mystique out of complex systems and help us realize there are elements of accident and intention embedded even(especially?) at outstanding organizations. Reminded of a recent Rally conference where a discussion broke out about the challenge of testing across a mesh of SoA "platforms" And building stuff that is complex to test. How culture, tools, talent, and leadership intermingle in the creation process. Your Bezos post dropped us into a definitional learning experience in your career. Thanks for both the accidental and the intentional post. Text wall and all...you were ultimately writing for yourself...pleasure to be riding your narrative waves this evening.
 
Really insightful comments, Steve! Glad it worked out well for you personally.
 
Why would Google fire/reprimand you? Your interesting posts, accidental and otherwise, are bringing a whole lot of users to Google+!
 
Great post! Really enjoyed reading it many times.
 
+Steve Yegge you are testament to the power of clear communication to save lives (and jobs). No one in their right mind would fire a guy who writes as well as you do. Left brain, meet right brain.
 
great post. Long time fan of your writing. Please keep it up.
Luc K.
 
I had to re-post this! This is one of the reasons I love Google. They are people who hire people like this! Long live the Googleplex! If more companies were like them, the world would be a much better place. Here's hoping more follow in their foot steps
 
+Steve Yegge , if you wrote a book and published it, I would buy it tomorrow and the world would disappear until I had the thing finished.
 
The posts are a wonderful read, but if I was +Steve Yegge, I would stay away from posting anything for a few years. Otherwise he will end up becoming less employable.
 
+Niels Langager Ellegaard I think +Steve Yegge has reached the point where his posts and stories make him more employable, and that he would not want to work at the kind of companies who consider such candor to be career limiting.
 
the way he wrote this article simply shows why Jeff Bezos liked his prose and not the others. brilliant.
 
Many of us can read (and write) at some length. Not everyone is allergic to a few paragraphs. Sure, make things as simple as possible. But no simpler. (Einstein.) To make a point, you often need to layout the supporting points if you want a broad audience to follow. Having a path too long for some is much better than losing more due to a series of points too far apart to follow or accept.

BTW, G+ should support threaded comments... It's a fail that I can't indicate this comment is relative to a particular comment above without some form of awkward in-message addressing.
 
+Mark Atwood, Hehe, so would it be a career boost for you to post the Amazon story on your blog and exchange the name Jeff Bezos with Monty Widenius, Scott McNealy, or Jim Whitehurst? :-)
(You don't have to answer in detail)
 
+Steve Yegge I have to say your post looks to me as a staged one. (but it is a really good one). Let us assume it is not a staged one. Then it highlights the problems we the users of google+ and google products are facing especially when it comes to sharing or distributing content in a restricted way... I guess trying to be innovative, google has forced upon us on how to share. e.g. while choosing to share photos in picasa, google's default is through google+ (especially when it went live, the default setting was to publish photos to everyone in plus). However if your company has designed something like this and released it to public, i am sure would have tested a million times and more importantly discussed the design over a good period of time.

In spite of all this, if you can accidentally post such an important rant to public (we all know that if its such a rant, in case of a reply all, we would be extremely careful) - this confirms my thinking that it could be staged. If not well exposes the design 'flaw' especially in the concept of sharing.

NB: I am not saying google stage managed it, may be Steve himself could have staged it! ;) Also its a very very important rant that MBA folks should especially read when it comes to strategy development and whats' core for sustaining a company's model - at least my interpretation of your viewpoint on platform was in that perspective - Many thanks for sharing such a blindingly obvious but a very fundamental point...
 
+Tim Acheson agree there, but it was an entertains read. There's big points for the princess bride reference :-)
 
To +Balaji Anbil +Steve Yegge
We should not blame Google for not making Google+ foolproof, as Murphy's law and corollaries state:
1) It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.
2) Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.
3) Make something fool-proof, and they will build a better fool.
I hope something good comes out of all these tomfoolery. At least that you should not use social networks to communicate internal issues.
 
+Niels Langager Ellegaard I have a number of fun stories about working with Monty, none of which are disparaging of him in any way, and I don't think they would have been CLMs to post. However, I am not going to post them here, because this is Steve's forum, not mine. I never worked with Scott McNealy (he was not CEO of Sun when I was there (in addition to looking at where I worked, you should look at when I worked there)), and I have not yet met Jim Whitehurst.

People don't hire me to keep my mouth shut. In fact, they often hire me because I speak without fear. And I avoid working for places that expect closed mouths and lockstep marches.
 
lol did not see the princess bride ref coming
 
I am quite confident that you will not get all the way to reading my comment, but if by some stroke of cosmic luck you do, please keep posting stuff. Your articles are honestly very refreshing. Most engineering posts are either chalk-full of engineering drivel, condescending towards its readers, or simply targeted to an engineering crowd. Your posts are fantastically accessible (which I know you champion yourself). Please, for the love of god, keep posting dude. They're fucking fantastic.
 
I was wondering about what the other side of this coin called Bezos could be, after reading your earlier article; so thanks for posting this.
 
When reading the start of the followup I was under the impression that there were three parts to it. We only got episode #1: the Jeff anecdote. Somehow I was under the impression there was more to come :-)
 
LOL at the need to get an independent review before posting it. Thank you Adam DeBoor!
 
Another fantastic post from +Steve Yegge . In my opinion he's one of the best 'finds' on Google+. He is one of the few people in my 'A list' circle.
 
Yet another greath post, thanks! Keep them comin'
 
+Alex Garcia +Steve Yegge i am not saying that things should be foolproof, its about the design intent. Its simple, my expectations was high in case of google, but after the way they launched Plus and their sharing mechanisms made me think twice that they have lost the plot... needless to say, some features of plus is definitively fresh...
 
It seems to me that you are under sever duress and need some serious time away from work. I recommend that you take a vacation and do something that you really enjoy to do other than sending out occasional public rants. Before you begin your vacation find a secluded place and scream at the top of your lungs for as many times as you like. This would be a better and more professional way of releasing stress and frustration then publicly criticizing your peers and employer. Using profanity in any type of closed forum at work is unprofessional but in public is disturbing.

I did find your info about your previous employer impelling and would have listened to your critizen regarding the internal operations at Google more seriously if you where a journalist outsider and not an insider.

If I where working with you I would insist you seek professional help while on your vacation. There are allot of people not working that know how to professional release anxiety.

Best of Luck
 
If only Google+ had been built as a platform, then you would have posted to it using the API and none of this would have made it out into the big bad world -- though of course there'd have been no rant to post in that case.

Thanks for an interesting read + kudos for Google for dealing with this the way they did.
 
I bet if this truly wasn't intended you will never see a pay raise.
 
Dude, i can identify with this in many, many ways. (Not saying im as smart though haha)
The moment i saw the news about your accidental post, i waited to hear your fate.
Had Google punished you for this, i would have lost a lot of faith in Google as a brand.
I the vast majority of company's out there would have punished you. I know my last employer would have terminated me for something similar. My boss would have had a field day with me, foaming at the mouth and everything... No joke!
And thats sad because its the free thinkers, people not AFRAID to share their ideas and knowledge, that bring the most to this world.
 
I'm a freshman CS major, and I am extremely impressed and inspired by your posts. It feels good to get insight into how the actual business world functions. Keep posting, and if i'm ever asked to list any heroes or people I look up to, I may just have to include you.
 
u express ur thoughts wonderfully clear and crisp. now that makes ur rant on google more of a reviewing a flop movie. anyways, can see ur talent in being able to express urself. not everyone has it ;; no wonder Jeff dint go mad at ur presentation. :) hey!! one more important suggestion is that the +1 does not appear until we move our cursor over the intended comment ... if a person just tries to look to +1 then he cant unless he accidentally moves his cursor on it.
 
Wow, I never thought about everyday being worried to be fire can have healthy effect on how you work and your career.
 
Thank you Steve as always. I love you more each day.
 
Am I the only one who is seriously underwhelmed by this story? Does it take a genius to know that Machine Learning and Data Mining is a core skill of an engineer? In a company like Amazon? Whose very business model used to be reliant on Data Mining?
In addition, how about contemplating the the hypothesis that Bezos gets bored so quick, because the presentations given to him are incredibly boring? PPT or prose is identical anyway and 90% of the presentations one has had to sit through are unbelievably boring.
 
+Udo Bange Occasionally engineers take their core skills for granted and forget what is in their repertoire of core skills
 
Looking at the stats of this post - Google+ is not that bad social network after all :)
 
+Luke Walker I know, I've had a couple of them on my watch who forgot about that :-) It just does not make Bezos a genius not forgetting.
 
Steve, thank you for the original post. If you don't mind, I'll pass the link to the Rip's copy to everyone who claims of doing SOA in the enterprise space.
It's pity you deleted the original rant, I would reference it from my website. What you're sharing about SOA in Amazon is priceless.
 
Steve thank you for that memo - it's probably the most meaningful text on architecture I have ever read. BTW on Facebook - it sucks at least due to the fact that as soon as you wrote smth there, you have no ability to search&find it again. (May be I'm wrong somehow? but it's a matter of accessibility). For years I was using Livejournal for notes - post something there and some months/years later I can use google search and find that note in a minute. For FB is doesn't work. As soon as your "status update" was done some 5+ days ago - you are lost, you can't recover whatever you wrote, it goes to hell. BTW I wonder about searchability of Google+
 
+Udo Bange The idea that Data Mining and Machine Learning are part of the "core" engineering skillset is fairly controversial, even within data-oriented companies like Amazon and Google. Many engineers (both with and without the knowledge) feel it's a specialty skill.

In any case, I look forward to reading some of your own non-underwhelming stories. I'm sure they'll be exciting and beyond criticism.
 
Dude, you need to get rid of the Jerry-Maguire-after-the goldfish-scene-looking photo. Just sayin.
 
hey Steve, how did you do to get Bezzo's attention to present your project? I have a project tyhat I have been working on and I haven't been able to find the channels to present before him. Email me back if you have the chance please guntherger@hotmail.com

Thanks

Gunther
 
Jeff might have loved ur presentation since write damn well. Simple.
 
Nothing short of amazing. extremely well written. blunt and to the point.
 
I didn't think for a second that Google would do anything other than listen to you. It is because of their openness that makes them one of the best companies in the world.
 
And I'm sure it didn't help when people were spreading rumours a while back that you were going to quit Google, after watching your O'Reilly OSCON Data 2011 video, even though you never said such a thing LOL.
 
Hey Steve, I wish you would repost that "rant" on your drunken blog posts (which is fucking fantastic, btw. Every time I find a student who tries to give a shit about Haskell I send them to your site. :D). It was one of the boldest and most honest technical analyses I've seen in a long time. It was INCREDIBLY FUNNY ("The Dread Pirate Bezos Doesn't Give a SHIT ABOUT YOUR DAY!" has become a meme among my friends and I), and it really shows how amazing Google is that such honest criticism could be responded to with a "wow. We'll think about that."

I think it's a shining example of what makes software engineering such a special field to be a part of. It really shows what makes technical folk such effective leaders and innovators for the world: we're willing to have "hard conversations that may make people uncomfortable." We're willing to put ourselves at great risk for what we believe is right (moral leadership). We truly care about what we do, for more than just money. We are receptive to feedback and welcome the ability to be even better. We are not afraid to be OPEN, HONEST, PASSIONATE, and FUNNY.

Truly, you have NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF. Don't ever let anyone lead you to second-guess yourself for writing such things, or sharing them. You show the VERY BEST of what our field has to offer, the critics who rely on "Security By Obscurity" (which is NOT REAL SECURITY) be damned.

Please repost that. It's easy enough to find, but there's a greater point to be made: you should be proud of being who you are, saying what you think, and truly caring about what you do. I, as a professional software engineer and student of computer science, am proud to call you a peer.

Also, your stories about Bezos and Amazon are amazing. Some people may think you're "throwing them under the bus," I think you're just showing fantastic, real-life examples of one culture. It may not jibe with everyone, but as you show in this post, there are people who can be in such an environment and say "this brings out the very best in me." I might even want to work there for a while. After all, getting torn a new one by Bezos may make me a better presenter. I know if I were Jeff, I would OWN all of this, grin, and hang a Jolly Roger above my desk in the office!
 
Dude! Franz Liszt wasn't "famous-ish" -- he was the world's first rockstar! Girls were screaming and fainting and throwing their under-things at him 150 years before Elvis and The Beatles. The term "Beatlemania" was borrowed from "Lisztomania," and he had easily as much influence on piano composition and performance as Hendrix did on the electric guitar. This past Friday was Liszt's 200th birthday.
 
Ha! Paganini was the world's first rockstar. Liszt heard Paganini and pulled an Eric Clapton -- locked himself away to practice for a year. Having listened to most of the existing recordings of Liszt's compositions over the years, I get the feeling much of his fame was either as a virtuoso or from being a friend of Chopin, and not so much from his compositions.

Regardless, my wording was unclear. Yes, he was famous. Now he's famous-ish. :)
 
i bet your following circle just asploded.
 
Everything for a reason....and sounds like it will produce a positive outcome, so kudos to Google for listening.
 
+Steve Yegge Steve! holy jesus man... talk about getting your 15 minutes!
I wanted to say "thank you" for your posting mistake - Im in a SW startup and the points you mentioned on your rant will help us better plan for what to/and not to implement.
I wouldn't be surprised if you become a regular "key noter" after this.
Hope all is well.
 
Great post. I joined g+ Purely on the strength of your previous post.
 
that was AWESOME in so many ways.

(next time some marketing stooge in a suit says "people don't read" I'll show them your post.)

you know, Drupal could use you. hint hint
 
Put my kudos in for you too. Very refreshing - thanks for the accident.

The "accident" does raise a question about difficulty of controlling visibility for even an experienced user like you - something I worry about a lot when looking at developing enterprise social apps.

Re the argument itself I also believe in platforms as huge enablers - do they fit Google's model though or Does google need direct user engagement?

Thx again.
 
Steve, mid-read i forwarded this to my colleague sitting next to me and said, 'this is the most interesting thing I've read in years.' It is captivating and your story about web services and Bezos' push for them in 2002 has overnight changed our prospect's thoughts on the importance of APIs, which as a sales guy at Mashery, is invaluable. Thank you!
sez g
 
Dear Yegge,
Please ask them to redirect the url for the average out-of-the-box "Share This" to our Google+. Right now it Google bookmarks. WTF?
Love,
Sez
 
Would have been cool if you'd have stopped after just a few words I think.
 
would love to be able to peek into Google like that more though.
 
Thanks for writing that rant even though it was accidentally made public. I definitely learned a lot from it and this post. Keep up the good work and don't worry about your career :) Just from reading these two posts, I noticed you are uniquely intelligent
 
I've never seen Powerpoint used, but if it was outlawed on campus, it no longer is. It came pre-installed in my Amazon-issued laptop.
 
Cant admire this enough

"I never worried about saying something stupid and ruining my career. Because hey, they were most likely going to fire me in the morning."
 
Agreed. Can't admire this enough. There is a lot to learn from in these posts..
 
After much thought and review of Steve Yegge's post, I wonder if it was not a carefully crafted spin piece that was company-blessed and or willfully conceived as guerilla PR?
 
Hope you still share thoughts when you are Up-There-In-VP-World in few years... :-)
 
Once my boss made me write a fake response with fake training I would take as punishment, then we went fishing for two days. I think you should write about the perodic table of google services... I really like the slack on dodgeball and that somehow foursqure was not lawed. Google notebook, add app script, engine and data bindings. The poor mainternence and ubuntuone binding of contacts and tomboy/sticky note is worth exploiting, and googles so far into the hole. And notepad would chew up intents so awesome, and bookmarks... meta data... and i'll end up doing getting annoyed and using the firefox textfield editor to insert vim accessing fused gdataedgdocs... that wave thing and igoogle. notepad... all good things, also facebook and twitter and foursqure.... because sometimes it would be nice to have the enviroment you want to be awesome and connect and yours... and I never want to copy and paste gps coordanates from latitudes gdocs export into twitter (which buzz[not for long] somehow reposts on my plus? why does buzz give me a much longer list of abscure things it will chat with, but plus kinda chooses. so much potential but so much overlap and poor
 
Superb essay #1. I am looking forward to the others that follow.....
 
I say “presentations” and you probably think PowerPoint, but no: he outlawed PowerPoint there many years ago. It’s not allowed on the campus. If you present to Jeff, you write it as prose.
This should happen everywhere!
 
Glad to hear Google may be open to feedback, because from where I'm sitting Google's suggested user list looks like a debacle.

Comparing ten community-selected photographers with ten on Google's list, the community selected ones were doing better in the 2 weeks before the Google list, then the Google-promoted folks blew past them 300-400% over the following 6 weeks: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AjZ78zSXx0_QdGdKTXlvNHFoNGRISnZFWjhuVmwxbWc

I'll go into more detail later today.
 
We need a new rant about Google Reader!
 
Don't know, dude, this post can be summarized as: "sorry, sorry, big-big screw up, trying desperately to fix things up". Better move would have been to do nothing. You already apologized on Oct 12th post.
 
So whats the plan on G+. You should do more for inviting new people!
 
It seems that all people are waiting for your story #2 and wonder who will be named in ;)
 
Hello Stevey,

Only yesterday did I really read your famous rant. I think your point on platform-making isn't totally correct either. Here's my criticism:

1. There is a reason why Google seems not so interested in becoming a Platform company like Microsoft and Facebook.
Building and maintaining a platform means you don't create solutions to concrete problems; instead, you create an "app marketplace" that lets 3rd party app developers do the real job. It's like you're a landlord and you rent your lands to businesses and charge them for rents. Google has a culture to make innovative, concrete things that solve real problems, and I hope Google not degenerate to a purely landlord-style business.

2. The right policy on "platform" is to persuade app developers to develop for an open, neutral platform.
For example, for web apps, use OAuth/OpenID/HTML5/JavaScript instead of the Facebook platform; for local apps, use Java/GTK+/Qt/wxWidgets or even "Chrome Web apps that run locally" instead of proprietary OS-specific platforms such as Windows Platform SDK and Mac OS X's SDK.

3. A virtual platform or a galaxy of real products? I hope Google learn from General Electric.
Both Google and GE started with a good product/service, Google with Page Rank-based Web search and GE with the light bulb. GE then expanded to a wide spectrum of industries, even including nuclear reactors. So GE is a typical example of a galaxy of real products and services, instead of doing the "platform business". What's even worse than doing a platform business is if you want to do an "online platform" business, as that can easily become bubbles. I'd rather be a real landlord than an online landlord...

4. No one will win a war of proprietary platforms.
Another problem with building a proprietary platform is no company can ultimately win such a platform war. Every company seems to want to "build a platform" and become an online landlord after it has some good services. Amazon wants it; Facebook wants it; Download.com wants it; Google wants it too. But ultimately, only those companies who champion open platforms and standards will win. Google is good in this aspect with its HTML5/JavaScript-compliant Chrome Web apps initiative.

5. Who will win the war of social networks?
As for the war of social networks, I believe ultimately an open standard called "Next-Generation Blogging" (NGB) will win. It's an upgrade to the current blog, allowing near real-time delivery of your new blog posts to your subscribers (so they see them immediately in their NGB user interface), and post-specific, circle-based access control (as in G+). See this vivid illustration for what NGB is like (https://plus.google.com/u/0/102291835965130378165/posts/BZgKHy2NsYc) and join Googler +Brad Fitzpatrick to develop it and beat Facebook!

6. Closing remarks and a wish for +Larry Page and +Sergey Brin
You see those decades-old communication protocols like SMTP (email), NNTP (newsgroups) and IRC are still in active use today, so will their younger brother RSS. Why? Because they're all free, open and public protocols that model certain forms of communication. In contrast, proprietary communication systems like MySpace, Skype, Facebook and even G+, their impact on human history won't be as profound as those open protocols.

Those open protocols were mostly invented by scholars in the academia, or by people in the industry who have farther sight beyond immediate commercial gains.

You know, really great companies, they invent great things like the hard disk, and found great industry standards like PC and Unicode.

Larry and Sergey, I hope you can do more in things that will have really long-lasting impact on the human civilization, rather than things that drive the stock price up and down so erratically.

(This comment also available as a G+ post that you can share: https://plus.google.com/u/0/102291835965130378165/posts/94NEh9EopNz)
 
I and I hope a lot of other programmers learned something really important from your rant Steve. And I'm even more inspired by the fact that Google is now working to address the issue you raised on at least some levels. Putting action behind the motto: don't be evil, your company has, by responding to valid yet potentially highly embarrassing criticism, raises the bar for Corporate America even higher. A broad swath of reverence to all involved!
 
Feel free to hire me I know how to develop platforms check out Scoroeid
 
Just added a seventh part to my comment above :-)

7. "Platformology"
But we do see good examples of successful, long-standing proprietary platforms, such as Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X (and other Apple platforms) and Facebook. And we see how difficult it is for a new proprietary platform to overthrow a current dominator (e.g. G+ vs. Facebook), even if the new challenger is an industry giant like Google. So is there a set of laws that govern platform wars? There seems to be.

Law 1: The market rewards the first generation of explorers commercially, just like the patent system does.
Microsoft and Apple make the most and second most widely used desktop operating systems today largely because they were early players that pioneered graphical user interfaces. Likewise, Twitter and Facebook are still the top two spots in the SNS market for the same reason.

Law 2: Later challengers can only win with open platforms and standards.
Although Windows and Mac OS X are the most and second most widely used desktop OS's, the third is Ubuntu and the fourth is Linux Mint, a variant of Ubuntu. See? Only open platforms or standards can challenge early, proprietary dominators. For another example, Britannica and Microsoft Encrata used to be two dominating electronic multimedia encyclopedias, but now Wikipedia takes everything. For a third example, Microsoft Office faces increasingly serious challenge from OpenOffice (and now LibreOffice). As for social networks, Facebook won't continue to dominate. Facebook and Twitter are actually on the wrong side of history. Can you imagine if telephone companies block calls from each other? Then you had to subscribe to multiple telephone companies and get a different telephone number from each company in order to be able to make calls to all your friends. No, you should just need to own one telephone number to call all friends and be called by them. That ridiculous scenario is exactly happening in today's social networks: you have to own multiple social network accounts (one Twitter, one Facebook, one G+) and visit all of them every day to exchange updates with all friends. This is the wrong side of history. Even early telephone companies didn't do this evil. Maybe +Eric Schmidt should meet his Washington friends and let FCC intervene. The real future of social networking will be like email: everyone only needs to own one account to be able to interact with all friends, and this will be based on an open protocol like SMTP is for email.

Update: Linux Mint now becomes the top distro on distrowatch.com's distro popularity ranking list (therefore the third most popular disktop operating system behind Windows and Mac OS X). This is largely because the newly released Ubuntu 11.10 continues to pisses off its users with its Unity user interface.

(In full: https://plus.google.com/102291835965130378165/posts/94NEh9EopNz)
 
Steve I like your comment which explains the reasons about google's failure to penetrate in the social networking area. After my experience with google buzz and now google plus, I believe that they were launched prematurely. Google could have waited at least a couple of months to refine google+ and then launch. It is better to be late rather than be sorry.

I am wondering why google didn't integrated orkut with google plus? I don't see the point of two different services from the same company competing with each other and thus helping the rivals.
 
I really enjoyed the original post, mistaken or not. The thing I like about your writing is its honesty, and I don't think that you said anything particularly bad in the original post because you were being as honest as you knew how.
 
This was a fantastic insight. I loved it.
 
This was a great write up - many thanks for sharing!
 
I disagree with your original rant for this one reason: Google is really first and foremost in the business of selling ads (not products or platforms, those are just means to an end) and a robust API that allows access to Google's data and infrastructure without the ability to make Google money (by serving an ad on every call) is not in the best interest of the company. If they're willing to change this business model in light of all this, then more power to them!

As a side note I do agree with you on a technical level (as I am a programmer) in that platforms should be built from the ground up and not as a bolted-on after thought. But within the context of Google's business model, there has to be some way to make money off the APIs, which is what I think is happening now with Maps and that is a good decision from a business stand point (now just make sure it stays competitive against similar solutions from Bing, Yahoo, Nokia, etc).

Best of luck to you all, Googlers!
 
yeah, as u knew, yr comment? announce was viral to so many develper and portal site... in Korea, one developer recommnent his blog title is 'platform is culture'. see this link...http://blog.creation.net/515
 
You just jumped the genre of technology forward 50 years. It's not just internal folks that don't get it, it's we the people. Because it's not important to us, it's not important to the decision makers.

Sometimes the doo has to hit the fan.

I remember an interview with a Catholic Priest in LA who works with gang members. He said his job was to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

It may have been a painful and not necessarily well thought out belly-flop, but I think the fallout is long overdue.

Thank you.

BTW, great way to illustrate the power of my three most important phrases (other than the obvious one):

"I'm sorry, how can I make it right?"

"I don't know, but I'll find out."

And a well-timed, self-aware "I really blew it, didn't I?".

Pretty much the antithesis of arrogant, I think. More a road map to success. :)
 
You write original material unlike most people who seem to share links without any additional commentary.
 
+Steve Yegge I enjoyed your post immensely and was inspired to learn more about how Amazon solved their challenges regarding the services oriented architecture. And I mean the actual implementation. Any books, blogs, etc you can recommend? Thank you!
 
Steve - enjoyed this almost as much as your accidental reply-all rant. If you put a bunch of these together, and put them on the Kindle store for a couple of bucks, I bet you wouldn't have to worry about getting fired every day :-) though I can't imagine you are in any actual danger.
 
"Every night he'd say that. 'Good night Wesley. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning.'"
 
Googlers get only 12 days of holiday in the US? Poor guys! In a random German company you get 25 days or more...
 
And it was awesome. Thank you for your openness and allowing it to stay public.
 
How can you change the font in your post?
 
Steve, I just wanted to say, thank you for publicly posting your G+ post about platforms I loved it. You are a tremendously good and funny writer, especially for an engineer! Man, I got a kick out of it!
 
I'm a non-tech person and your post on platforms was brilliant. It indirectly explained some annoying issues such as why Google sometimes takes away useful applications that I love so that it can roll out new applications about which I don't care.

It also raised my esteem for Google about 4 notches above 10, with the dial only going up to 11. I'm impressed that they left the post up on Google+, they didn't relegate you to a heap of forgotten trash, and that they are taking action on the points you raised. Go Google!
 
Steve, you're an entertaining writer for sure, very interesting how you had the insight with Bezos to do what any good presenter should -- understand your audience: what they want, how they react, to anticipate what they might do. That's a type of intelligence, EQ, that even guys with super high IQ's like Bezos respect. My brother went to Princeton with Jeff, so I've known he was always very smart, but I think you put it right that he's been able to combine high intelligence with passion/drive with accumulated power to get to a higher plane. A plane where he can think more intuitively with more info and without fear (which as you point out is ultimately a limiter of thought and expression) and also faster, and then be able to do something real with his conclusions.

I've seen Bernie Marcus (founder of Home Depot) speak several times and he's also fearless as you'd expect an octogenarian billionaire successful entrepreneur to be, as is Ted Turner (you could add Sheldon Adelson, Steve Jobs, and others to this list of course). These eccentric geniuses all have their quirks, but they are all not afraid of imposing their formidable wills to achieve whatever vision they believe in, and tough enough to persevere. And usually they're smart enough to find folks like you with large EQ's to keep them honest. Good luck going forward, and BTW I was an early large advertiser with Adwords starting in 2001, so I've been a Google fan for over a decade, though stupidly only finally bought stock in late 2008. I'm sure you'll get whatever issues aren't quite right back under control.
 
That's a really, really interesting insight. Thanks mate.
 
Great post, and insights, +Steve Yegge. Will definitely use some anedoctes in coaching on leadership and company culture. 
But most of all, I've got to thank you for the laughs. Your story of Jeff Bezos is my head the The Devil wears Prada of intelligence business. 
 
I was reading about behavior-driven development (BDD) with Cucumber and Ruby, when the wiki suddenly pointed out there were some agile skeptics, which in turn linked to your post on good and bad agile "rats".

Naturally, I was instantly hooked -- I had to read more, and soon I came across this viral 3-parter on Google, Amazon, services, platforms, and life.  I have to agree 100% with Nags : I would immediately grant you a book contract.

I've always wondered how some of the big companies thought or acted on the inside, and here you are telling us that, while there are sharks, the water is still fine =)

Might apply to some of them now ;P
 
Ahem Steve,
Aside from these great posts -- thanks much ;o) -- when U write "Amazon War Story #1: Jeff Bezos", I'm primed for 'Amazon War Story #2,3, ...' but can't find it.
Did you ever get to write it?
 
The viral post was a great post, I just read it. I realized that all the Google products (other than search) that I use or used are the platformized ones — Gmail, Docs, Android, Reader, Talk, Calendar. And my loss of interest in Google+ recently is directly due to it being a closed product with no platform and no open standards support.

So, here's hoping management at Google listen. I know they won't bring back Reader, but perhaps we can have Atom feeds in and out of Plus, a proper API for Hangouts, that sort of thing.
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