Last year I left Google. I worked at Mountain View for close to four years and when I left I was earning around $200k. Google doesn’t always pay as well as you think. Nowadays I work for a multi-strat fund in Manhattan. It’s different; in many ways it’s better.
If leave Google for finance, you will be in culture shock. NY has a much different energy than California. CA was more chilled out and relaxing. In NY people walk faster, talk faster; time goes by faster.
Google was a chill place to work. When I was at Google I went barefoot, and so did a lot of others. People would show up to work in their pajamas. We’d all walk around the office with our feet out. Google would send us to “offsites” which were like little fun trips to wineries or Disney or skiing in Tahoe.
Google was also an insular and ethereal place to work. At Google most of the tech being used is developed internally. People who’ve worked for Google for many years seem like otherworldly geniuses because they know how all the stuff works there. But if you mention some industry standard technology used outside Google, they’ve never heard of it.
There’s a structure and a deliberateness to Google. Things move slowly and there is a highly engineered process in place around everything. All code committed at Google is reviewed and there is infrastructure in place to track all changes. It’s slow. It’s meticulous.
In my new fund in Manhattan, my life and work are totally different. My feet are away in shoes. There’s a kind scrappiness to it. – I’m doing software development most of the day and I probably write more code in a week here than I did in two years at Google because I can design/build things from scratch however I want. My users are close by me – I’m building things for a small group of traders in the same office; I18n is not a factor.
Sometimes it’s scares me how much freedom I have now, and how few checks there seem to be against it. At Google I worked on tiny aspects of very large things. In this fund, I build entire automated trading strategies from start-to-finish including market data collection, exchange connectivity, algo design and testing, logging, production operation of the system, and I get to choose how it’s done. At the fund I am the masterbuilder.
Google understands the risks. It has the best cyber-security people in the world who are always researching and mitigating new ways to compromise security. – Google is constantly a target of hacking groups and state actors. Here we just outsource network security to some IT management firm which charges us a large monthly fee. I have no idea if their people are any good.
Google was dull too. There were lots of meetings. Sometimes meetings about meetings. Meetings about what your team should name itself. Meetings all the time. There is no time for multiple meetings on a trading floor.
And Google was political. People at Google focus on doing work that’s highly visible. They create presentations about what they’ve done and they show them to those above them in the organization so they can point to it as justification for promotion. The barefoot Googlers put together very extensive presentations about the tiniest little contribution. People will give a tiny feature some grandiose sounding name and generate piles of documentation around it. They then link to those docs in performance reviews.
When you work in finance, P&L is king. No one cares much about politics and meetings and diversity when everything is about trading for profit. There’s a transparency to it, and that’s refreshing. I have no regrets.
Daniel Combs is a pseudonym
Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: email@example.com in the first instance. Whatsapp/Signal/Telegram also available. Bear with us if you leave a comment at the bottom of this article: all our comments are moderated by human beings. Sometimes these humans might be asleep, or away from their desks, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. Eventually it will – unless it’s offensive or libelous (in which case it won’t.)