Photo: Flickr/Esther Dyson
There’s been a lot of talk lately about google losing key employees to Facebook, startups, or just leaving to start their own company.Yesterday we talked with an employee who fits that last category, and we asked him why he left.
He told us he started working on Factual, a data organisation company, just six days after he left Google in 2007.
Factual is the kind of company that would fit at Google. So why didn’t Elbaz build it inside Google?
“I’m an entrepreneur at heart,” says Elbaz. He didn’t want to try and build a new project at Google. He says as the Google “gets larger, it’s hard to get support for things that seem difficult, or if it’s not clear the project makes sense for Google today.”
Google is aware of this problem, and has even reportedly considering starting an in-house incubator program. Even if it had an in-house startup incubator, Elbaz says he would have struck out on his own.
“I was so passionate about this idea, and doing it aggressively, I don’t know if I would have been patient enough to do an incubator,” he says.
In our interview he stressed that he had a “great experience” at Google learning how to scale a business and manage engineers. He was even given a “founders award,” which is a stock bonus given out by Sergey Brin or Larry Page to employees they want to recognise for making an impact at Google. (Since AdSense is a multi billion dollar product, it makes sense he would be given the award.)
Even with the award, and the great experience, he only spent about 3.5 years at the company. He joined Google when it acquired his company, Applied Semantics. Our read — he stayed as long as he had to for contractual, earn-out reasons then he left to do his own thing.
So what’s the lesson for Google? If it keep acquiring startups run by feisty entrepreneurs, it’s going to lose them every few years no matter what sort of incentives to create to keep them in house.
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