June22, Oakland, California: The seeds of a company’s downfall, it is often said in the business world, are sown when everything is going great.
It is hard to argue that things aren’t going great for Google. Revenue and profits are charting new highs every three months. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is worth $1.6 trillion. Google has rooted itself deeper and deeper into the lives of everyday Americans.
But a restive class of Google executives worry that the company is showing cracks. They say Google’s workforce is increasingly outspoken. Personnel problems are spilling into the public. Decisive leadership and big ideas have given way to risk aversion and incrementalism. And some of those executives are leaving and letting everyone know exactly why.
“I keep getting asked why did I leave now? I think the better question is why did I stay for so long?” Noam Bardin, who joined Google in 2013 when the company acquired the mapping service Waze, wrote in a blog post two weeks after leaving the company in February.
“The innovation challenges,” he wrote, “will only get worse as the risk tolerance will go down.”
Many of Google’s problems, current and recently departed executives said, stem from the leadership style of Sundar Pichai, the company’s affable, low-key chief executive.