On Friday I had the experience of being part of a bit of a whirlwind in our beloved tech sphere — Google acquired PostRank, the company I work for, and the announcement went out Friday afternoon. The startup fairy tale realized and all that jazz. If you’re looking for lots of insider details in this post, I can’t really help you there. There’s a lot I don’t know, and wouldn’t be able to tell you if I did. This is mostly just going to be musing about what’s been going on in my head since March.
When it’s part of your job for three years to get people to notice and understand what you do, it’s entertaining and surreal to watch people push a button, and then the the social/news web goes a bit ape shit without you having to do anything. Even better when it’s for something so positive and not an epic fail. 🙂
This has been in the works for several months, and has taught me lessons in keeping secrets at a scale I wasn’t familiar with before. And I don’t know half of what our intrepid leadership does. I have friends at the local Google office, and jokes about them buying us or us buying them are common. This whole process certainly gave said jokes an extra frisson of entertainment value.
Can’t say I was a fan about the parts of the process that required lying to friends and family, but c’est la vie. You can’t really jet off to California for a couple days with zero explanation… (Interviews, FYI. Next one will be orientation.)
Most of the team will be moving to California, which is an amazing opportunity for them. I chose not to. As I’ve told a few people, I ran off and joined the circus (in the form of moving to Sydney) at 23. I don’t have that life anymore. Thank goodness. It’s been amusing seeing the reactions of people who claim to have expected that I wouldn’t move and related opinions. Somehow, invariably these comments come from people who hardly know me… In a perfect world I’d be able to regularly visit San Francisco and the Valley, but I’ve no drive to live there.
People also seem to lose interest in asking me questions about the whole thing pretty quickly when they find out I’m not moving. And they get awkward and clearly don’t know what to say. (I’m sure there’ll be rumours. I’d love to hear them.) I’m ok with that. There is a small handful of people who I think understand exactly why I made the decision I did. Fortunately, they are part of the core reason I decided to stay put.
It is a very strange thing to stack up money and career opportunity (and a few sundry other things) in your head against… your life. In my case it was really an academic exercise. When told of the planned acquisition, my first comments to Carol, our CEO, were, “WTF do they want me for?” and “I’m not moving to California”. It gave me the luxury of being extra happy for the opportunities afforded to those who are going, though I will miss them a great deal. (And I got to avoid having to select a US healthcare plan. Just looking at the options nearly gave me an anxiety attack.)
I will be with Google transitionally for six months from the local office (which I’m pretty excited about), after which I’ll need to find another job. I’m not terribly worried about that, nor actively looking at this point. Why would I? As an employee I can now ride the slide if I want to. Side note: My friend Cate (who works for Google) was talking to someone a little while ago and trying to explain what she does. It boiled down to the person eventually saying, “Oh, you work for the internet!” And now I work for the internet, too. 🙂
Besides, one of the fun things about tech is that everything changes so fast. To paraphrase what Stephen, one of our co-ops, said on Friday evening, “The company I want to work for might not exist yet”.
I admit it bothers me a little that there is a good chance of changing the world and me not being part of it. Not so much from a fame and fortune aspect, but from doing really good work with really good people. Of course, there are many really good people doing really good work out there, but I’ve kinda gotten attached to these ones, even if, admittedly, web analytics in itself has never been a great passion of mine. (If it was I might blog more so I’d have some metrics…)
Of much greater interest is the data a level out — what are the stories inside the data? Who’s creating what and where does it go, and among whom? What are the cultures of the different social hubs we flock to, and how does our participation change what we learn, what we’re interested in, and the very fabric of our social spheres, compared to communities in other times and places? Clearly, Waterloo needs a think tank so I’d know whose door to go knocking at…
I know, too, that there are important things the team will learn that I won’t, which also bugs me, but it’s not like life and the tech world have any shortage of important stuff to absorb. Besides, I still think you can learn faster and with greater density in a smaller environment than as a cog in a big machine. Having spent too many years in insurance, big machines make me wary, even if they’re brightly coloured and no one bothers with business casual.
That’s been another Great Question stuck in my head these last months — what IS my passion? What would I work at for free? It’s a tough one, since what I do and what I’m best at often don’t easily fit into boxes (as Google learned, I think). “I take care of people and organize things” are essential functions, but you rarely see them on business cards. Ahh well, it’s always managed to work out.
I still haven’t entirely figured it all out, but I know more than I did, and I know what questions to ask myself, too. It also really occurred to me what a luxury being part of a two-income household can be. You’re more likely to have options to get away from something that doesn’t work for you, to try something that intrigues you, or commit yourself to something you’re passionate about but which may not pay terribly well. Anatole and I, on the other hand, are relying on only one breadwinner.
To date, my mantra this year has been to wait and see where things are by my birthday (mid-June), since a lot of things would be decided and acted upon by then. We now approach the second phase of the year: wait and see where things are by Christmas. I tend to be much happier when I know as much as possible, but I also know how impossible that usually is. Fortunately, I’m looking forward to seeing where all this goes, and I have all the reasons I am staying here behind me to help with adjustment pains.
Attendre et espérer.