It has been a year since I joined Google as a regional PM for Developer Relations. Looking back, it has been an amazing year – a rollercoaster of activities with startups, developers, and entrepreneurs worldwide. Before Google I worked for a couple of years in Microsoft’s Developer And Platform Evangelism - It was a very interesting experience and I have learned a lot from these years at Microsoft.
It is time now to make the comparison very few people can make, speaking from personal experience - Google’s Developer Relations Vs. Microsoft’s Developer And Platform Evangelism:
Getting in – Interviews
Both Microsoft and Google have very strict vetting process and both rather miss a good candidate than let a bad one in. Both Microsoft and Google have between 6 and 12 interviews assessing both technical and business abilities.
Still, it is harder to get into Google – In Google you are interviewed by your hiring manager, potential peers and all relevent interfaces. If one of them say “haaaa, I don’t know…” you will probably not getting the job, even if the hiring manager loves you. In Microsoft the hiring manager has much more influence, in my experience, to get someone in even if some of his interviews did not go perfectly. In Microsoft, I learned that one of my peers did not think I was the right person for the job (only after my first public session, he came by to say he though so before, and was proven wrong) if this happened in Google, I wouldn’t have gotten the job.
Getting in – on-boarding
Both Microsoft and Google have a pretty solid on-boarding process.
Microsoft has tones of online mandatory courses you have to take in the first few weeks. Every course is interactive and at the end there is an online test. Most of the content is horribly boring – Policy, Products, Sales, Internal systems. The tests at the end are super easy and you can take them as many times as you like… Not really challenging and rarely useful. The positive things I remember about my on-boarding at Microsoft was that I got flowers from the company a week before I joined, and that everything was ready and dandy when I came in.
Google on-boarding feels a little more like a startup. You get a lot of “Welcome to the team” emails, with funny and sometime internal jokes, that you only understand days after. You are called a “Nooglers” for the first few weeks – saying “Hi, I am Amir and I have a Noogler question” was very common for me in the first days. Most of the training is in classes and content varies – some super interesting and super technical, and some less interesting like HR processes. No tests If you do not get it, you will soon find out when you start your job.
I had the pleasure to have great managers in Microsoft and in Google. Both were mentors and enablers in the best way possible. In Google there are things like non-managerial bonus – peers can give you bonuses and asses you as well. This helps employees to align strategies without the need of managers to intervene. Microsoft has peer evaluation but to a lesser extent.
I had amazing teams both in Microsoft and in Google. The team spirit in Microsoft seems more conservative, if you have a great idea some people will first think if it is aligned with their targets before helping you. From my experience, it is much easier to experiment in Google than it was in Microsoft – If you have a crazy idea, just do it, and people will help you. In general it is more common to experiment in my role in Google than in Microsoft.
I work harder in Google. We are a smaller team both locally and globally – you want to achieve more with your resources so you work harder. I am not asked to work harder, my manager tells me to work less, but I just feel more productive and want to do more.
Sales Vs. Eng
Microsoft’s Developer And Platform is under sales – Google’s Developer Relations is under engineering. This is the most important differentiator in my experience. In Google I do not need to sell anything, I am totally aligned with the developers and startups I work and meet everyday. I do not think “what do I need to sell to them”,I do not have a quota, I do not have a number hanging over my head. This makes me very happy.
Being in Eng also means I am in the same group as the developers that write the code. It is much easier to open bugs, go to eng meetings or event call some one if you are in the same org as he is. Google Developer Relations has much more interactions with the product team than Microsoft Evangelists.
Centralised Vs. Distributed
Microsoft is very centralised and Google is very distributive by comparison. In Microsoft most decisions are made in Redmond. There is a concept of field and corp – If you are in the field you need to execute, if you in the corp you need to build, design, and strategize. In Google I am able to build and run a global program from a distributed office (Not in the USA). It is super common in Google to go into any office, anywhere in the world and sit at a free desk and start to work. You feel at home anywhere in the world. Microsoft gives Corp people a company credit card – Google gives a company credit card to anyone in the company, no matter where they are.
Flying arrangement in Microsoft are every ordered and arranged by internal team – in google you need to buy your own ticket and book your own hotel – this takes time to adjust
Both companies are amazing – both have changed the world and the way we live. Working for both companies was an honor and a privilege. I am happy I have worked in Microsoft, and super happy I was asked to move to Google. At the end of the day, I feel more creative and empowered at Google. It is more challenging, exciting, and fun to work with startups, which are the bread and butter of Google, rather than enterprises which are the bread and butter of Microsoft.
All this comes from my personal experience and might not be true in general or for other people. This reflects my personal opinion and not any company or organisation. Everything I covered is public information that can be found in other resources on the web. No secrets, just my truth