Since Marissa Mayer started Google’s associate product manager program — APM for short — more than a decade ago, it has swelled into one of the company’s most elite entry-level positions.
Mayer started the two-year rotational training program to home-grow managers who would be “Googley.” The program has since become rather legendary, and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt told Steven Levy that he expects an APM alumni to run the company someday.
When you pick people who are leaders and show the sort of entrepreneurial zeal that makes them a great fit at Google, you also pick people who are confident enough to leave Google to build their own companies.
And a lot have.
“We get two to four good years, and if 20 per cent stay with the company, that’s a good rate,” Mayer told Newsweek in 2007. “Even if they leave it’s still good for us. I’m sure that someone in this group is going to start a company that I will buy some day.”
Rakowski is now Google's VP of product management focusing on Android. Suitably, Rakowski also now runs the APM program.
What's changed since Mayer left the program? Not much, according to Rakowski.
'One of the best things about the APM program is that so many incredible people have gone through the program over the last 11 years and want stay involved,' he writes on Quora. 'In the spirit of tapping into the alumni network, we've also started a APM speaker series where APM alumni who have gone on to do interesting things (at Google or outside) give a talk to the current APMs.'
Bartelma studied engineering at MIT before joining the APM program, where he worked on product search. He eventually left Google to be the director of product at Dropbox in 2010.
Shen spent four years at Google working on Android development and marketing and then Maps before founding Beijing-based mobile gaming company Papaya Mobile in 2008. Papaya Mobile created over 13 games, and then shifted to start making its mobile game engine available to other social game developers. According to its website, the company has over 1,000 titles connecting to its network.
Interestingly, Shen also appeared on a popular Chinese dating reality show in 2012, which helped her company become more widely recognised, according to Women of China.
Taylor has an impressive track record. He quit Google, where he led the creation of Google Maps, to found a startup called FriendFeed that Facebook eventually bought for roughly $US50 million. Taylor then served as Facebook's CTO for about three years before leaving to found Quip.
The company just launched a new spreadsheets product.
Lee joined Polyvore after her obsession with the fledgling digital fashion collage site caused her to write a note to its founders filled with praise, complaints, and product suggestions. They asked her to join the company and come fix the issues herself. Even though she was happy at Google working on Maps, she took the job.
That was seven years ago and Lee became the company's CEO in 2012. Since, Polyvore has grown into a profitable company with more than 20 million unique users every month that's one of the largest referrers of social commerce traffic on the web.
Baum worked at Google for roughly five years before leaving the company to work on a startup called WhereBerry that helped people plan outings with their friends. After WhereBerry failed to gain traction, he started StoryWorth.
StoryWorth brings families closer through story sharing. Once a week, the company sends an evocative prompt question to participants and then stores their answers.
'I love the idea that a hundred years from now, millions of people would have their great-grandparent's full life story,' Baum tells Business Insider.
Demetri worked at Google for a little over three years before a small startup called Earnest poached him to be a product manager. Earnest gives out super-low-interest loans to financially responsible young people.
After spending three years at Google working on its communication and collaboration products (like the initial prototype for Gchat), Rosenstein ditched for a lead engineering position at Facebook. He spent almost two years there before teaming up with FB's founder, Dustin Moskovitz, to create Asana.
Major companies like Twitter, Foursquare, Uber, Airbnb, Pinterest, and Dropbox all use the company's tools. Rosenstein also founded One Project, which aims to get the world's technologists focused on global problems together.
Garg sold Spool, which TechCrunch called 'Instapaper on steroids,' to Facebook for an undisclosed amount. He continues to work at Facebook today.
Before that, he founded an education startup called PrepMe that Ascend Learning acquired in 2011.
Jini Kim is the CEO of a health care analytics company called Nuna and helped fix the Obamacare website.
Kim, one of the first product managers at Google Health, left the company to found a health care analytics company called Nuna.
Earlier this year, the Obama administration recruited her to fix healthcare.com. She and the team she worked with were featured on the cover of Time.
Bavor has been with Google since 2005. He tackles product management and user experience design for Google Apps for business and education, Google Drive, Google Docs, and Gmail, including the company's new app to reinvent email. He also helped design Google Cardboard, the company's simple virtual reality device.
He's also an amazing photographer and has created an Abraham Lincoln portrait out of pennies.
Michael Brandt got such an entrepreneurial itch at Google that he left before he even knew what he wanted to work on.
Siroker and Kooman founded Optimizely in 2010 to make A/B testing simple. The company has since won some big-name customers like Salesforce, Disney, and Starbucks.
In May, the company raised $US57 million in Series B funding. Between Google and Optimizely, Siroker was the director of analytics for the Obama campaign.
After Lewis sold his company Tapjoy to Facebook for an undisclosed amount, he started Karma, a social commerce company that let users give gifts from their phones. Facebook bought that, too, and then shut the app down.
Periscope makes tools to help companies sort and visualise their vast amounts of data.
Here's what Glaser personally works on according to his company bio:
'Harry handles Periscope's customer support, sales, office hunting, whiskey buying, and website copy writing. In his spare time he still checks in a little code, much to the annoyance of the other engineers.'
Davidson left Google to found a reservations startup called PrimaTable, which eventually sold to HotelTonight. Davidson was the VP of product at HotelTonight for a little while before joining Redpoint Ventures as a senior associate.