It hasn’t been a great start to 2023 for Google. The company was caused off guard by OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s all-in approach with the AI chatbot. However, one former Google employee says that the signs of trouble have been ongoing for several years.

In fact, Praveen Seshadri says there was a “gradual decay of a dominant empire” over the three years he spent with the company.

Seshadri has published a Medium post that paints a dark picture of what is happening in Google. He says internal in-fighting and controls are holding back innovation and development. He points to “four core cultural problems” in the company:

  • No mission
  • No urgency
  • Delusions of exceptionalism
  • Mismanagement

The former employee suggests even getting the smallest product cleared involves the controls of a “NASA space launch”.

“Google has 175,000+ capable and well-compensated employees who get very little done quarter over quarter, year over year. Like mice, they are trapped in a maze of approvals, launch processes, legal reviews, performance reviews, exec reviews, documents, meetings, bug reports, triage, OKRs, H1 plans followed by H2 plans, all-hands summits, and inevitable reorgs.”

Microsoft

Seshadri worked with Microsoft between 1999 and 2011, a period where the company declined massively. He says the similarities between Google now and Microsoft then are clear. Microsoft has since recovered, and Seshadri does say he thinks Google is arguably better equipped than Microsoft was:

“Yet, Google has a few strengths that Microsoft didn’t have as it tried to recover — it isn’t a culture of ego and fiefdoms, the environment values introspection, the stated core values of the company are rock solid, and there is still immense respect for Google in the external world.”

Google was rocked by Microsoft’s AI push over the last month. Redmond is all-in on AI, investing billions into OpenAI and integrating ChatGPT into Office and potentially Windows. The company has already announced its ChatGPT-like Bing Chat AI search. Google was forced to rush an announcement for its own Bard chatbot AI.

Many within Google thought the announcement was too soon. When the AI answered an incorrect question during its presentation, employees were angered and Google’s stock price fell. It is also worth remembering that Google recently announced it is cutting 12,000 jobs, around 6% of its global workforce.

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