Seven months ago, I left my Product Management job at Google to work on starting a company. My co-founder and I have been working on Kapwing, an online video editor, for the last four months. In this post, I’ll compare life before and after so other big-company product managers know what they’re getting themselves into if they’re thinking about jumping ship.
- Google: Google shuttle, 1 hour++.
- Startup: The time it takes you to move from your bed to your desk. And occasionally Muni.
- Google: You spend a lot of time going through the motions of performance review and pleasing your manager, both of which are annoying.
- Startup: You spend equally as much time on growth hacks and pleasing upvoters on product hunt, which is more fun but equally as obnoxious and random as Perf.
- Google: Everyday for free.
- Startup: You still eat at Google a few times a month because the VC you’re squatting in is so close to the SF office and Googler blood runs deep.
Conversations with co-workers
- Google: “Oh, how was your weekend?”
- Startup: I already know everything about your weekend because we chatted every hour on Hangouts.
- Google: If your product makes money, it’s probably not fun to work in your org.
- Startup: If your product makes money, everyone wants to work with you.
How search works
- Google: Even though you work on Search, you barely know about how SEO ranking works, because you’re not a ranking
- engineer, and does anyone really understand ranking anyway?
Startup: SEO IS LYFE
- Google: Text changes go through eng review, product review, design review, and Ariane approvals.
- Startup: In the time it took to write this sentence, the text has already been changed in production.
Google: Multiply by 1000 and liquify whenever you want
Startup: Monopoly money that might be worth millions of dollars in a decade.
- Google: I get multiple unsolicited emails from journalists every week and redirect them to the Comms team because that’s someone else’s job. Eye roll.
- Startup: I send hundreds of unsolicited emails every week begging journalists to care about my product.
- Google: Business trips to Zurich, Delhi, Tokyo, and Tel Aviv on the corporate card because you have partner engineering teams in remote offices.
- Startup: It’s exciting to walk to the food truck park for lunch.
1 million users
- Google: Probably noise. Did you flip the launch bit yet?
- Startup: An unbridled future fantasy.
- Google: Why are the engineers taking so long? They’re so sllloooww.
- Startup: Why am I taking so long? I’m so sllloooww.
- Google: Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
- Startup: WIP, but I think it’s written on the first slide of the pitch deck.
- Google: Makes six figures but still annoyed when they don’t give you a holiday gift.
- Startup: You make less in a week than you used to make in a single peer bonus.
- Google: Level 8
- Startup: 30 under 30
- Google: All you need to do is ship a great product. If it’s a great product, people will use it, and monetization doesn’t matter.
- Startup: You have to build a great product AND get people to use it AND make money from it. You can have a great product that people don’t use and a great product that people use and doesn’t make money. Either way, your product will die despite its greatness.
- Google: Build awesome software, work with amazing people, dream about the future, and have a lot of fun on the way.
Startup: Same 🙂
- Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts about what it’s like to leave the Man for a tech startup. If you enjoyed the post, let me know by giving us some Medium love, checking out our video editing website, or following our startup journey on the Kapwing blog.
Founder of Kapwing. Formerly Product @ Google, CS @Stanford. Feminist, runner, ed policy nerd, Texas → Silicon Valley.