R.I.P. Google+?


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Google’s Google+ social network, touted by some as a potential “Facebook killer” upon its 2011 release, could end up split into multiple parts.

“Just wanted to confirm that the rumors are true—I’m excited to be running Google’s Photos and Streams products!” Google Vice President Bradley Horowitz wrote on his Google+ page. “It’s important to me that these changes are properly understood to be positive improvements to both our products and how they reach users.”

While there’s no official word from Google on whether Google+ is headed for the digital chopping block, Horowitz’s posting suggests the service could undergo a significant rebranding in coming months. If so, “Photos” is a logical candidate for a standalone service. Over the past few years, Google+ has developed a reputation as a place where digital shutterbugs congregate to share images, so it seems logical that Google would double down on that aspect of things.

The second allusion in Horowitz’s posting, “Streams,” is much more ambiguous. It presumably refers to the activity/news streams that dominate the profiles of Google+ users, but it remains unclear how exactly Google will shift things around to emphasize this functionality.

At this month’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Google Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai also told the audience that Hangouts, the popular communications platform that currently exists as part of Google+, might end up as a standalone product of some sort. “And we’re going to put more energy into it,” he said, according to The Verge. “We’re seeing good traction there and so we’ll work hard to get to the next stage.”

At least one thing is clear: Google+ will likely end up looking very different in the months and years ahead—if it even continues to exist under that name.

Source: Techgig

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It’s ‘internship time’ at Facebook, Google, Apple


MOUNTAIN VIEW: Sitting in a kitchen stocked with free food, a handful of 20-something Google summer interns weigh their favorite perks, but where to begin? With bikes, buses, massages, swimming pools, dance classes, nap pods, parties and access to their tech heroes, it’s a very long list.

“Unlimited sparkling water?” someone says.

In the end, however, the budding Googlers are most excited about the work.

“The project I’m working on is super high impact, and I’m looking for ways to make my mark,” says Rita DeRaedt, 20, studying visual communication technology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. She admitted to being a bit star-struck after she was assigned to a team headed by a designer she’s long admired.

With summer’s arrival comes an influx of thousands of Silicon Valley interns. Well paid and perked, young up-and-comers from around the world who successfully navigate the competitive application process are assigned big time responsibility at firms such as Google, Facebook, Dropbox and Twitter.

Silicon Valley tech firms pay their interns more than any other sector in the US, according to a Top 25 list of 2014 intern pay by online career website Glassdoor.

Palantir Technologies, a Palo Alto-based cybersecurity firm, topped the list with $7,012 average monthly base pay. Also on the list: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, eBay, Google and Apple, all of which pay more than $5,000 a month, or $60,000 annually if these were full time jobs.

And that’s not counting the perks, which at Facebook even include housing in this high rent region.

Executives hope that a fun and stimulating summer will motivate them to come back after graduation to launch careers. It’s money well spent in a field fighting for talent, says Keck Graduate Institute professor Joel West in Claremont, who hired interns when he ran his own software company, and now helps place students at internships.

(Image courtesy: Google)

(Image courtesy: Google)

“When you’re an employer, interns are a win-win, because you get relatively cheap labor and you get a first look at talented and ambitious people,” he says. “You get first dibs on them.”

Indeed, many of the internships turn into careers.

Max Schireson, CEO of database startup MongoDB, with offices in Palo Alto and New York, says they nurture former interns, 35 this summer selected from a pool of 3,000, when they return to their respective schools – primarily Brown, MIT, Stanford and Princeton.

“We try to keep in touch with them both to keep that relationship warm but also because they can help us in identifying our next crop,” Schireson says.

Schireson says that while there’s solid pay, with food, drink and candy around the office, there are limits. Ultimately, he says, “we want people attracted mostly by the workplace challenges.”

Typically, interns are assigned to collaborative teams working on specific projects; computer science student might be writing software code to make failed passcode attempts erase data, while a human resources student might be creating online learning modules for new hires.

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(Inside Facebook headquarters)

Serial entrepreneur Jon Bischke, currently CEO of San Francisco-based Entelo, a tech recruiter, said interns better arrive ready to hustle.

“Companies in Silicon Valley are growing faster than literally any companies anywhere since the beginning of time,” he said. “The energy is palpable and for people who appreciate fast-paced environments, you won’t find anything faster than what’s going on in Silicon Valley right now.”

But there is an effort to keep hours reasonable, and many said East Coast financial sector interns work longer hours for less pay.

“We believe in paying for work and paying our interns, full stop, but we don’t believe in making interns work all hours of the day unnecessarily, and think there are lessons to be learned in terms of managing time and workflow,” said Google spokeswoman Meghan Casserly. Overtime is allowed, however, for projects that warrant it, she says.

Chris Crawford was 18, a student at University of California, Santa Cruz, when he landed his first internship at nearby Cupertino-based Apple. He spent the next five summers interning at Apple, two in public relations, three at iTunes.

“I love Apple technology, I’m a musician and I loved what they were doing in the music industry, and I got real life business experience there,” says Crawford, who went on to launch his own startup, Loudr.fm, in 2009, an online service where musicians can sell cover songs and original music to fans, or through iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and other sites.

Now and then, he says, their little firm of eight even gets an intern.

Google’s head of global staffing Kyle Ewing says the biggest misconception about their interns is that they are all computer scientists from elite universities. Instead, Google, and many other firms, have outreach programs to both diversify their workforce and provide opportunities for non-technical students.

IITian who built Google+ announces resignation


“I am excited about what's next. But this isn't the day to talk about that. This is a day to celebrate the past 8 years,” Gundotra said.

“I am excited about what’s next. But this isn’t the day to talk about that. This is a day to celebrate the past 8 years,” Gundotra said.

NEW DELHI: Vic Gundotra, the high-profile Indian executive who headed the Google+ team at Google, is leaving the company. The announcement was made by Gundotra on his Google+ page.

“Today I’m announcing my departure from Google after almost 8 years,” wrote Gundotra. “I am excited about what’s next. But this isn’t the day to talk about that. This is a day to celebrate the past 8 years.”

Gundotra is an alumnus of Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He earlier worked with Microsoft, handing the developers relations for the company. He joined Google in 2007 and along with Sundar Pichai, head of Android and Chrome division, Google Search boss Amit Singhal and Google business officer Nikesh Arora, formed a quartet of senior Indian executives who ran Google’s day to day operations.

“Vic built Google+ from nothing. There are few people with the courage and ability to start something like that and I am very grateful for all his hard work and passion. We’d like to wish Vic good luck with his next project after Google,” Google CEO Larry Page said in a statement.

Apart from being the man behind Google+, Gundotra was instrumental in making Google I/O, company’s annual conference for developers a success. The first Google I/O was held in 2008.

While Google+ has managed to make a mark on the web, largely because Google has been very aggressive in pushing, the social networking site is a distant second to Facebook in terms of users and lags significantly behind Twitter and Facebook in terms of appeal.

From the statements issued by Page and Gundotra, the resignation of Google+ boss looks like a routine affair. But at the same time there were reports based on inputs left in Secret, an app that allows anonymous social networking, that Gundotra was looking for a new job.

In his statement Gundotra praised Page. “I’m overwhelmed when I think about the leadership of Larry Page and what he empowered me to do while at Google. From starting Google I/O, to being responsible for all mobile applications, to creating Google+, none of this would have happened without Larry’s encouragement and support,” he said.

According to reports at Recode.com and Marketingland.com, the new Google+ chief will be David Besbris, a Google engineer who is with Google+ team since 2008.

source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/tech-news/IITian-who-built-Google-announces-resignation/articleshow/34168703.cms

How to get a job at Google


News 24 in 7MOUNTAIN VIEW: How’s my kid going to get a job? There are few questions I hear more often than that one.

In February, I interviewed Laszlo Bock, who is in charge of all hiring at Google – about 100 new hires a week – to try to understand what an employer like Google was looking for and why it was increasingly ready to hire people with no college degrees. Bock’s remarks generated a lot of reader response, particularly his point that prospective bosses today care less about what you know or where you learned it – the Google machine knows everything now – than what value you can create with what you know. With graduations approaching, I went back to Google to ask Bock to share his best advice for job-seekers anywhere, not just at Google. Here is a condensed version of our conversations:

 

You’re not saying college education is worthless?

“My belief is not that one shouldn’t go to college,” Bock said.

It is that among 18- to 22-year-olds – or people returning to school years later – “most don’t put enough thought into why they’re going, and what they want to get out of it.” Of course, we want an informed citizenry, where everyone has a baseline of knowledge from which to build skills. That is a social good. But, he added, don’t just go to college because you think it is the right thing to do and that any bachelor’s degree will suffice.

“The first and most important thing is to be explicit and willful in making the decisions about what you want to get out of this investment in your education.” It’s a huge investment of time, effort and money and people should think “incredibly hard about what they’re getting in return.”

Once there, said Bock, make sure that you’re getting out of it not only a broadening of your knowledge but skills that will be valued in today’s workplace. Your college degree is not a proxy anymore for having the skills or traits to do any job.

 

What are those traits?

One is grit, he said. Shuffling through resumes of some of Google’s 100 hires that week, Bock explained: “I was on campus speaking to a student who was a computer science and math double major, who was thinking of shifting to an economics major because the computer science courses were too difficult. I told that student they are much better off being a B student in computer science than an A+ student in English because it signals a rigor in your thinking and a more challenging course load. That student will be one of our interns this summer.”

Or, he added, think of this headline from The Wall Street Journal in 2011: “Students Pick Easier Majors Despite Less Pay.” This was an article about a student who switched from electrical and computer engineering to a major in psychology. She said she just found the former too difficult and would focus instead on a career in public relations and human resources. “I think this student was making a mistake,” said Bock, even if it meant lower grades. “She was moving out of a major where she would have been differentiated in the labor force” and “out of classes that would have made her better qualified for other jobs because of the training.”

This is key for Bock because the first thing Google looks for “is general cognitive ability – the ability to learn things and solve problems,” he said. In that vein, “a knowledge set that will be invaluable is the ability to understand and apply information – so, basic computer science skills. I’m not saying you have to be some terrific coder, but to just understand how [these] things work you have to be able to think in a formal and logical and structured way.” But that kind of thinking doesn’t have to come from a computer science degree. “I took statistics at business school, and it was transformative for my career. Analytical training gives you a skill set that differentiates you from most people in the labor market.”

A lot of work, he added, is no longer tied to location.

“So if you want your job tied to where you are, you need to be: A) quite good at it; and B) you need to be very adaptable so that you have a baseline skill set that allows you to be a call center operator today and tomorrow be able to interpret MRI scans. To have built the skill set that allows you to do both things requires a baseline capability that’s analytical.”

 

Well, what about creativity?

Bock: “Humans are by nature creative beings, but not by nature logical, structured-thinking beings. Those are skills you have to learn. One of the things that makes people more effective is if you can do both. … If you’re great on both attributes, you’ll have a lot more options. If you have just one, that’s fine, too.” But a lot fewer people have this kind of structured thought process and creativity.

 

Are the liberal arts still important?

They are “phenomenally important,” he said, especially when you combine them with other disciplines. “Ten years ago behavioral economics was rarely referenced. But [then] you apply social science to economics and suddenly there’s this whole new field. I think a lot about how the most interesting things are happening at the intersection of two fields. To pursue that, you need expertise in both fields. You have to understand economics and psychology or statistics and physics [and] bring them together. You need some people who are holistic thinkers and have liberal arts backgrounds and some who are deep functional experts. Building that balance is hard, but that’s where you end up building great societies, great organizations.”

 

How do you write a good resume?

“The key,” he said, “is to frame your strengths as: ‘I accomplished X, relative to Y, by doing Z.’ Most people would write a resume like this: ‘Wrote editorials for The New York Times.’ Better would be to say: ‘Had 50 op-eds published compared to average of six by most op-ed [writers] as a result of providing deep insight into the following area for three years.’ Most people don’t put the right content on their resumes.”

 

What’s your best advice for job interviews?

“What you want to do is say: ‘Here’s the attribute I’m going to demonstrate; here’s the story demonstrating it; here’s how that story demonstrated that attribute.’ ” And here is how it can create value. “Most people in an interview don’t make explicit their thought process behind how or why they did something and, even if they are able to come up with a compelling story, they are unable to explain their thought process.”

For parents, new grads and those too long out of work, I hope some of this helps.

Google could be fined up to $5 bn for misusing market dominance


The case has been before CCI for over two years now and it relates to allegations that Google is abusing its dominant position in the internet search engine space.

google news 24 in 7Google, which is facing antitrust investigation in India by fair trade watchdog, the Competition Commission of India (CCI), can face a penalty of up to about $5 billion if it is found to have violated competition norms of the country.

Google said it is “extending full cooperation” to the CCI in its investigation. The conclusion of a two-year review by the US antitrust watchdog is that the company’s services were good for competition, it added.

The case has been before CCI as well for over two years now and it relates to allegations that Google is abusing its dominant position in the internet search engine space.

Under competition regulations, an entity found violating the norms could be slapped with penalty of up to 10 per cent of its three-year annual average turnover.

In the case of Google, its annual revenues in the last three years amounts to $49.3 billion and the maximum penalty can be up to nearly $5 billion.

When asked about the ongoing probe and the potential penalty of up to $5 billion, a Google spokesperson told PTI: “We are extending full co-operation to the Competition Commission of India in their investigation. We’re pleased that the conclusion of the Federal Trade Commission’s two year review was that Google’s services are good for users and good for competition.”

While Google has settled anti-trust cases in the US and European Union, Indian competition regime does not have provisions for settlement process. Besides a complaint filed with CCI cannot be withdrawn.

Finding prima facie evidence of violations, CCI had referred the matter to its investigation arm — Director General (DG) — for a detailed probe. Sources said that the DG has also collected comments from third-parties with regard to this case and it is likely to soon submit its report to CCI. The Director General could not be contacted for comments.

Apart from penalty, CCI is empowered to pass orders to correct a company’s conduct in the market place. Also, the regulator can go for structural remedies that could see breaking up of dominant enterprises into separate businesses. The complaint against Google, also one of the world’s most valued company, was first filed by advocacy group CUTS International way back in late 2011.

How Google keeps its employees happy and productive


The popular search engine Google leads in keeping its employees in a good mood.

The popular search engine Google leads in keeping its employees in a good mood.

LONDON: From laundry facilities to volleyball courts, from nap areas to a slide connecting work floors, the popular search engine Google leads in keeping its employees in a good mood.

And this has resulted in a higher productivity, a 12% boost at work, a research said, adding that the firm may actually have hit the right idea that happy employees do work harder.

“The driving force seems to be that the happier workers use their time more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality,” said Daniel Sgroi from department of economics at University of Warwick in Britain.

According to the researchers, Google was at the forefront of improving its employees’ happiness with its perks that include free food, buses and gyms along with sports courts and even a slide to get between floors.

In a series of lab tests, they found happiness made people 12% more productive.

The study included four different experiments with more than 700 participants.

The participants were either shown a comedy movie clip or treated to free chocolate, drinks and fruits.

Others were enquired about recent family tragedies to assess whether lower levels of happiness were later associated with lower levels of productivity.

Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and as a result employee satisfaction has risen, concluded the researchers in the study published in the journal of Labour Economics.

Why Google, Apple, Facebook employees are facing hostility in Bay Area


Even as the tech companies extend their global reach and jostle to own the future, their hometown is turning from admiration to anger.

Even as the tech companies extend their global reach and jostle to own the future, their hometown is turning from admiration to anger.

SAN FRANCISCO: Like huge lumbering beasts, the luxury buses shuffle down Valencia Street.

One by one, they stop in front of a hipster coffee shop. Bearded young techies swipe their IDs as they board, clutching cups of premium coffee. One fellow carries his dirty laundry. No one talks. The buses take off for the campuses of Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo and eBay.

It seems like a mundane commuting scene. But it is not. A security guard hovers. There might be trouble.

Even as the tech companies extend their global reach and jostle to own the future, their hometown is turning from admiration to anger. The buses, which illegally use city stops, have become an unlikely rallying point. First, people were priced out of their homes, activists say; now they are being pushed off the streets.

Demonstrators regularly block the shuttles. Last week, a group of activists stalked a Google engineer at his East Bay house, urging the masses to “Fight evil. Join the revolution.” A prominent venture capitalist struck back, comparing the tech elite with persecuted Jews in Nazi Germany.

“We’ve never seen anything remotely like this before,” said Gary Kamiya, author of “San Francisco, Cool Gray City of Love.” “Techies used to seem endearing geeks, who made money and cute little products but couldn’t get the girls. Now they’re the lord and masters.”

If the Bay Area is planning to relive the 1960s, it is still only the dawn of the decade. The protesters are relatively few, fragmented and uncertain in their tactics. The activists in San Francisco seem a bit more mainstream, while those in the East Bay are more inclined to escalate their protest – when they stopped a Google bus in December, a window got smashed.

The group that stalked Anthony Levandowski, an engineer at Google X, the company’s clandestine research laboratory, calls itself the Counter force, after a Thomas Pynchon novel. About a dozen members, all dressed in black, gathered outside the Berkeley house where Levandowski lives with his partner and two young children.

They unfurled a banner and handed out fliers detailing the engineer’s work on Google’s driverless car technology, Street View and Google Maps. The flier read: “Anthony Levandowski is building an unconscionable world of surveillance, control and automation. He is also your neighbor.”

Google, whose famous motto is “Don’t be evil,” declined to comment.

Several of Levandowski’s neighbors, who preferred not to give their names, said the protesters decamped after about half an hour and city police closely monitored the block for a day afterward. One neighbor speculated that the protesters were associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement.

“It felt like regular old Berkeley behavior, to tell you the truth,” another said.

In many ways, it was.

Levandowski’s house used to be a part of a small informal commune in the late 1960s. Tom Hayden, a founding member of the radical group Students for a Democratic Society, lived there.

Conditions are ripe for another large-scale protest movement, Hayden said in an interview.

“These days you have a very large, frustrated younger population watching the middle class disappear before their eyes just as they prepare to go into it,” he said. “A rising, serious hostility against Google and companies like Google is inevitable, part of a class struggle around the means of producing information.”

If something has started, the outcome still depends on what the protesters do and how the companies react.

“It’s like one snowflake after another landing on a mountain,” said Paul Saffo, managing director at Discern Analytics. “If conditions are just right, there’s an avalanche.”

Saffo, a longtime tech futurist, said the Bay Area had been sliding toward an “Occupy Silicon Valley” situation for several years.

“The tech companies are going to discover they are going to have to become better citizens,” he said, pointing out that the sheen of corporate coolness is already wearing off. Google, for instance, is reportedly paying an unnamed midlevel engineer $5 million a year. “Google is not doing this because they are generous. They are doing it because that’s what it takes to prevent him from going anywhere else.”

The Counterforce leaflet, which included a photograph of Levandowski’s Arts and Crafts house taken from Google Street View, urges the masses to throw off their chains, or at least their Google Glass, and “join the revolution.”

Silicon Valley has come full circle. It used to be where rebels and dropouts went. One young man from the East Coast with a Harvard MBA, Tom Perkins, was treated with such suspicion at Hewlett-Packard in 1957 that he was put to work in the machine shop, running a lathe. You couldn’t get any lower.

Perkins clawed his way up to being one of the founding financiers of the valley, funding Tandem, a leading computer maker, and Genentech, which employs 12,000 people. The firm he co-founded, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, is still one of the leading venture capital shops, a backer of Google and Amazon.

In a letter to The Wall Street Journal last week, Perkins asserted that the shadow of the Third Reich was falling over the Bay Area. He said that he was worried about another Kristallnacht, where rampaging Nazis went after Jews, looting and killing. The 1 percent – Jews in Germany, the tech elite here – were at risk from the crowds.

Perkins, who retired from Kleiner Perkins in 1986, told Bloomberg TV that he regretted the Nazi comparison, but stuck by his point.

“We have to be careful that we don’t demonize anybody and that we certainly don’t demonize the most creative part of our society,” he said.

What is at issue, however, is not Silicon Valley’s creativity but its wealth, and the sense of entitlement that brings. The tech companies’ position on the buses is this: We’re not driving our own cars, jamming the roads and polluting the air. We spend our money here in San Francisco, keeping high-end waiters and baristas and boutiques salespeople gainfully employed. Be grateful.

The protesters, and increasingly the community, respond: If we parked at a bus stop for just a moment, we would get a $279 ticket. Tech buses do it with impunity. And how do you spend your money in San Francisco if you spend all day 30 miles away?

During a three-hour meeting at City Hall, angry residents complained that even a low-income San Franciscan has to pay $2 to board a city bus while the city planned to charge tech shuttles just $1 per stop per day, regardless of how many workers got on or off.

“These companies should pay a handsome sum of money to the city, not just $1,” said a retired social worker, Herbert Weiner, 75. “They are filthy rich.”

City officials said the amount they could charge such shuttles was limited by state law to cost recovery and that charging a steeper fee would require a citywide vote.

Private shuttles provide service for about 18,000 riders a day, the city says, a total that includes some non-tech firms. Valencia Street, which is rapidly shedding its low-income immigrant-Spanish roots to become a wonderland of boutiques selling organic ice cream, $12 “limited edition” chocolate bars and $5 cups of Karinga coffee from Kenya, provides a front-row stage for the conflict.

Many of the buses are unidentified, bearing only notations like “main campus – Ridgeview,” which means Apple. Facebook’s buses are the most lavish, the kind rock stars take to their gigs. Their wireless password: “n0traffic.”

Residents say the tension in the neighborhood is palpable. Matteo Bittanti, an art teacher, often sees pedestrians make a vulgar gesture toward the buses. He understands the feeling. “They look like an occupying force,” he said, “like big, white, pristine tanks rolling down the street.”