Noam Bardin was the Waze CEO until two weeks ago when he abruptly resigned from that post. He had been the head of Waze for 12 years, the last seven of which he also worked for Google which acquired the Israeli founded mapping and GPS App.
Everyone knows Waze. That is everyone who drives anywhere. While Google offers its Maps app, that is best used ahead of time when planning a trip or searching for a specific location. It is also better geared for pedestrians on the go.
But Waze is great for motorists around the world. Founded in 2008, it gives drivers the best routes to follow by car. Its users post updates on traffic conditions to let drivers know if there will be any problems ahead of their route.
Well its every startup’s dream to get bought out for a bundle by a big company like Google. And that is exactly what happened to Waze which Google acquired for a whopping $966 million in 2013. And what’s great for the employees of the smaller company is the opportunity to work for Google which has a reputation of being great employer with a wonderful workplace atmosphere.
Unfortunately, Noam Bardin did not see it that way. That is why he left and Bardin has just aired his grievances with the company in a post on Paygo.
Bardin acknowledged the good with the bad. He explained that preserving their autonomy was important to himself and the whole team at Waze and that Google lived up to its promises to allow them such autonomy after the takeover. Even though the Waze employees all became officially employees of Google, they were still allowed to maintain their independence.
Now here is where things became problematic for Noam Bardin. He explains that rather than asking him why he left Google after only seven years the people who know him well are actually surprised that he lasted that long. So what bothered him so much?
Well one issue was that a big company like Google sees a product like Waze as just one part of a greater whole. Entire projects can be canceled without warning. But the employees who are used to the corporate culture accept this because they are loyal to the company and not the product on which they work.
It’s been two week since I left Google and I keep getting asked “why did I leave now”? I think the better question is “why did I stay for so long”? When Waze was acquired by Google, most of the people who know me did not believe I would las… 280/16,532 https://t.co/TLdBpkg1yO
— Noam Bardin (@noam) February 17, 2021
For the startup, however, the culture is all about the product. The whole team gets used to working in a small environment and is dedicated to what they build. Its like their kid and they want to work on developing it and seeing it grow.
Another problem for Bardin was not being able to simply fire people.
“There are people who are great for a stage of the company and later, do not have the right skills as the company grows. It is not their fault, it is reality,” he explained. “But not being able to replace them with people that do have the right skills means that people are constantly trying to “offload” an employee on a different team rather than fire them – something that is not conducive with fast moving and changing needs.
“In a Corporation, the employee alignment is to the Corporations brand, not to the product (i.e. Google, not Gmail; Facebook, not Instagram). The product is a tool to advance the employees career, not a passion, mission or economic game changer. Being promoted has more impact on the individuals economic success than the product growth.”
But what really bothered Noam Bardin seems to have been what he described as a lazy attitude on the part of employees who were spoiled on all the perks that Google offered like yoga classes. He even had to work around people’s exercise schedules.
“Having trouble scheduling meetings because ‘it’s the new Yoga instructor lesson I cannot miss’ or ‘I’m taking a personal day’ drove me crazy,” he explained. “The worst thing is that this was inline with the policies and norms – I was the weirdo who wanted to push things fast and expected some level of personal sacrifice when needed. I don’t believe long hours are a badge of honor but I also believe that we have to do whatever it takes to win, even if its on a weekend.”
Noam Bardin also explained that as he sees it Google employees all have a sense of entitlement which he sees as detrimental to the work environment. In short, he thinks that many are lazy and spoiled.
Bardin went much more in depth in his explanations of what he thinks is wrong with Google. He also offered suggestions about what should be done in the future. But it is not likely that Google will listen to him now.
If it didn’t change when he was a senior manager with the company then why would it change now. If it did not listen to him before, why would Google listen to Noam Bardin after such a public berating.