An interesting link from the venerable Daring Fireball about the perception from within Google of how the company is going, quoting an engineer who worked there for 18 years:

Much of these problems with Google today stem from a lack of visionary leadership from Sundar Pichai, and his clear lack of interest in maintaining the cultural norms of early Google. A symptom of this is the spreading contingent of inept middle management. Take Jeanine Banks, for example, who manages the department that somewhat arbitrarily contains (among other things) Flutter, Dart, Go, and Firebase. Her department nominally has a strategy, but I couldn't leak it if I wanted to; I literally could never figure out what any part of it meant, even after years of hearing her describe it. Her understanding of what her teams are doing is minimal at best; she frequently makes requests that are completely incoherent and inapplicable. She treats engineers as commodities in a way that is dehumanising, reassigning people against their will in ways that have no relationship to their skill set. She is completely unable to receive constructive feedback (as in, she literally doesn't even acknowledge it). I hear other teams (who have leaders more politically savvy than I) have learned how to "handle" her to keep her off their backs, feeding her just the right information at the right time. Having seen Google at its best, I find this new reality depressing.

Granted there's probably some disgruntled ex-employee vibe, but this always strikes a chord with me. If your senior employees cannot explain your strategy (if only from within their own department perimeter), you're going sideways. And there's never much of a gap between strategy and culture, more of a chicken and egg situation:

I do think the clock is ticking, though. The deterioration of Google’s culture will eventually become irreversible, because the kinds of people whom you need to act as moral compass are the same kinds of people who don’t join an organisation without a moral compass.

This is a perfect call back to my discussion from January about the different GAFAMs and the potentially troubled times they were facing as aging incumbents;

🟢 The year the GAFAMs could disappear. Episode 1, Google
In this series of five articles, I will discuss each of the current GAFAMs as 2023 might be the year their reign of supremacy on our life, work, and social connection comes to an end.

In any case, at this point, I would just consider how Google and others are going to deal with AI (LLM-flavored) as the most obvious survivability acid test. And for now, only Microsoft is working on this market turnover at full speed and efficiency.

Microsoft and with much less fanfare... Amazon.

Amazon’s Q AI assistant lets users ask questions about their company’s data
Amazon Q can work on any of the AI models on AWS’s Bedrock model repository.
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