After 9 years, I’m leaving Google. Today is my last day.
It’s hard to leave a place that you’ve been at for so long. People love to talk about the perks but really, it’s the people that have kept me at Google so long and it’s the people that I’m going to miss dearly.
So…if I'm going to miss it so bad, why in the world am I leaving?
My friend Roy Chan and I used to argue for hours about the role of idealists in the world. He’d try to convince me that change was driven by idealists and I’d tell him safe/sure paths were better…well today I’m going to admit defeat and make the choice of an idealist. I’m joining the US Digital Service working at Veterans Affairs in Seattle tackling electronic medical records.
Why? Because information technology is our generation’s steam engine…getting “digital services” right can make or break an organization (like our government). Because, momentum for change is building and we are at an inflection point for how government uses technology over the next decade. Because veterans and healthcare matter. Because if we citizens keep walking away from the hard problems, choosing instead to just criticize from a distance, things do not get better.
Is this going to be hard? Yes.
Will there be bureaucracy and all the other things that us techies hate? Absolutely.
Will there be legacy software to deal with? Like you couldn’t imagine.
Where is the hope then? The hope is in the people.
I’ve been working with USDS + various agencies intermittently for the last 1/2 year and can confidently say that despite the stereotypes + prejudice leveled against government workers, there are actually very good people in USDS (HQ, 18F, etc) as well as the rest of government. And when I say “very good,” I mean USDS has the highest concentration of talent + passion that I have ever had the pleasure of working with.
So with that, bye bye Google. Hello USDS and hello VA. First target is a point-of-care web application built using a node.js stack. We’re looking for 5-7 people in Seattle
. If you know anyone who has the skills and would find this intriguing, I’m interested in talking to them.https://www.whitehouse.gov/digital/united-states-digital-service