Ben Barbersmith

runner · developer · entrepreneur

Leaving Google

— Posted on Aug 4, 2020

All good things come to an end.

Benjamin Barbersmith
Employee number: ██████
Senior Technical Solutions Consultant

Friday 26th June 2020

Please accept this letter as my formal notice of resignation from my role at Google. My last day of employment at Google will be 7 August 2020.

Sincerely,
Benjamin Barbersmith

This was the best job I ever had. But after 7 awesome years at Google, it’s time for me to move on.

Why am I leaving?

I dream of building a software business and earning financial independence. But I don’t have the time or mental capacity to do that while working at Google.

I’m quitting my job to live the dream.

I want to set my own priorities. I want to push myself to learn and develop new skills. I want to tackle whatever interests me most, or whatever feels most important to me. I want the freedom to seize the opportunities that arise in our fast-changing world. I want to reap the rewards of the effort I put in. I want to own the capital I accumulate through hard work and perseverance. I want to be the master of my own destiny.

This is the only way to get what I want.

Why now?

Being on parental leave during 2019 was amazing. It was the most challenging year of my life, but also the best. When it was over and I had to return to work, it hit me hard that my time on this planet is extremely limited. It will pass in the blink of an eye if I’m not careful. Time is the most precious and irreplaceable resource we have.

Assuming a 40 hour week, working consumes a third of the average person’s waking hours. And let’s be honest, it consumes far more than a third of our alertness, our focus, our ability to learn and create, and our presence of mind. If I’m going to spend a third of my waking hours on any one thing, I need to know I’m getting a very good return on that investment.

For my first five years at Google I was getting an excellent return on investment.

I was getting paid well enough that my wife and I could buy our own house. I had opportunities to master new technologies. I learned a ton about business development, large organizational politics, and online video. I had the most autonomy possible within such a large enterprise. I never quite had a purpose that aligned with my values, but for a while that was okay.

Fast forward six years. I came back from a year of paternity leave.

We now own our home without a mortgage, which means the amazing pay has become less valuable to us. I had been using the same set of technical skills for several years, so the opportunity for mastery had diminished. (I would have loved to try people management, but that wasn’t an option in the next year or two.) Meanwhile, the autonomy of every employee had diminished as the company matured. And the company’s purpose was still misaligned from my values — reading The Age of Surveillance Capitalism reminded me of that.

With all these changes, I realized I was no longer getting a good return on investment from the best third of my waking hours. This isn’t a negative reflection on Google — 7 years is long enough for a lot of personal growth. Times change.

It’s time to move on.

To any Googlers reading this: Thank you for your part in making the job so special. The hardest part of leaving Google wasn’t saying goodbye to the food, offsites, travel, parties, or even PLX. No, the hardest part of leaving Google was saying goodbye to so many talented, generous, conscientious, well-intentioned, hard-working, and above-all Googley colleagues. I’m truly grateful that I had the opportunity to work with such an incredible set of people.