After college I spent all of 2002 backpacking around the world, logging into Internet cafes in different cities to update my weblog about the trip. In early 2003 I'd just gotten back online in Thailand after spending a month without Internet access in Burma, and I read news of Google's acquisition of Blogger. This'll sound way geeky, but it really felt like one of those, "Where were you when ___ happened?" moments. Overnight it legitimized and validated what a small-but-growing number of people like me were doing back then - publishing and sharing our thoughts and lives on the web.
My friend Katie was working on AdWords at the time, and I emailed her right away. "Katie — lemme know when Blogger starts hiring! It doesn't matter what for — I just wanna work on it!" I'd been a Blogger user since 2000, and had just moved to my Aunt's couch in Woodside after my travels wound down (meaning: I'd spent all my cash on the road). Katie invited me to lunch at Charlie's (at the original GooglePlex), and showed me the little room in Building π where the Blogger guys were hacking away on their laptops. We bumped into Shellen in a snack room, and I interviewed with the team a few weeks later.
I joined Google in April, 2003 as a member of Blogger's Support Team — we answered lots of email tickets, and built out a fantastic Help site. I took on additional responsibility whenever I could though - Jason Goldman asked me to help with some project management, starting with our first pass at localization. I lead the testing team when Kimmy went on leave. I made lots of mocks with Biz. I helped with several acquisitions, and liaised with Karen to help with PR's corporate-blogging efforts. I represented Blogger and Google at several conferences around the world, speaking about the democratization of the web and our efforts to spread web publishing far and wide.
I became Blogger's Product Manager after Goldman left Google in August, 2006. I'm rather atypical as far as Google PMs go — I studied Classics in the mid-west, and aside from the learning-by-doing I'd done thus far at Google, I had no prior experience with software engineering. I'm incredibly thankful to have been given this opportunity, and trusted with the role.
April, 2008 marks five years for me at Google, and it's time to move on — April 11th will be my last day working here. I've worked with an amazing group of people, and couldn't possibly list them all here. Y'all know you who are — thanks for your mentorship, excitement and energy! I'm especially proud to have been involved with a few specific projects:
- i18n: Blogger is available in 40+ localizations, including three Right-to-Left languages and transliteration in 5 Indic dialects. Given that at heart I'm a backpacker, global reach and accessibility was always near and dear to me.
- Play: an incredibly simple yet slick photo scroller, showing in real-time the photos people are sharing on their blogs. It's a fascinating way to observe humanity's pulse, as events happen at micro- and macro-levels around the world.
- OpenID: Every Blogger-hosted URL can be used as an OpenID anywhere on the web, and Blogger can accept OpenID-signed comments from any other service. Commenting is just scratching the surface of what OpenID will ultimately enable.
- ???: all the awesomely exciting stuff that's currently in the works, due to ship throughout 2008 and beyond!
Fred Brooks sums it up well:
"Not only is the end not in sight, the pace is not slackening. We have many future joys."As do Stewart Brand and Steve Jobs, as my Mom thinks I'm crazy for leaving one of the best companies the world has ever seen:
"Stay hungry, stay foolish."