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Google gets both barrels from ex-staff member on MS blog

'Tis the season, or at least the week, to be ranting against your ex-employer in the tech industry, it would seem.

Not only have we had the ex-Microsoft employee taking a pop at Windows 8 and its lack of mouse/keyboard suitability, now we’ve got a former Google employee on the warpath.

A former Google employee called James Whittaker, who now happens to work for Microsoft, funnily enough, posted a rant up on his Microsoft blog entitled “Why I Left Google”.

So why did the former Engineering Director abandon his Mountain View post? The quick answer is the direction the company is taking in terms of becoming more of a super-data-mining, advert-pushing giant, and its lack of concern for privacy issues.

And fundamentally, the relationship Google has with its employees. Where the firm used to encourage its staff to innovate from grass root levels, it has now become too corporate and essentially an advertising company.

Of course, Whittaker acknowledges that technically Google has always been an ad company – but under Schmidt, it was an “innovation factory” with adverts in the background.

Everything went wrong, he says, with Larry Page and Google’s drive to compete with that other web colossus, Facebook.

Whittaker wrote: “Social became state-owned, a corporate mandate called Google+. It was an ominous name invoking the feeling that Google alone wasn’t enough. Search had to be social. Android had to be social. You Tube, once joyous in their independence, had to be … well, you get the point. Even worse was that innovation had to be social. Ideas that failed to put Google+ at the center of the universe were a distraction.”

He added: “The old Google made a fortune on ads because they had good content. It was like TV used to be: make the best show and you get the most ad revenue from commercials. The new Google seems more focused on the commercials themselves.”

Whether that focus will bring success, and profit, is one issue; it might well do. But whether it’ll make people want to work there, that’s what Whittaker is driving at. And ultimately, a business is only as good as its staff.