California, here I come

Posted: August 7, 2008 at 6:36 pm in journal

As is probably not a surprise (especially after my New York vs. the Bay Area post), I have decided to move back to the Bay Area next month.

Taking a step back, at the beginning of the summer, I had just graduated from Columbia and was in need of some time off after the craziness of finishing the semester. I had three weddings to attend in California in a month, so I spent two and a half weeks in the Bay Area between May and June, and used it as a chance to catch up with many of my California friends. Seeing them made me realize how much I missed them all, and made me want to see them more often than once or twice a year. At the same time, I was starting to think about the next move in my career, since the “Software Management Training Program” at Fog Creek was ending at the end of the summer.

Putting the two together, I decided to move back to the Bay Area – many of my close friends are out there, the culture fits me better out there, there are many more technology companies to choose from career-wise, the weather’s better, etc. But mostly it’s the people – people are what matter to me in the end, and many more people of my “tribe” are out there (notwithstanding the many outstanding people I’ve met here in New York like Grant, Noah, Charlie, and my fellow Columbia students).

Having decided that, it was just a matter of finding a job, and as of today, I have accepted an offer to work at Google in Mountain View. I will be an analyst on a sales finance team that develops revenue forecasting models to help Google executives make decisions. I was drawn to the position because I get to use both my quantitative skills in building the models and my generalist skills in that the models are built on understanding everything from the technical product decisions being made, to sales and marketing strategies, to what customers and competitors are doing, to the larger economic and business environment. It will also be valuable if I decide to continue with the management track at some point, because executive managers have to understand the financials to be successful, so it would behoove me to understand revenue at a micro- and macro- level. You can read about the Revenue Force team to which this team contributes in this New York Times article which explains some of the contributions of Hal Varian as Google’s Chief Economist (Varian is also one of the authors of Information Rules, which I read in preparation for my interview with him at Google).

So that’s the plan. While I’m sad to be leaving New York, I went back and re-read my moving to New York post from two and a half years ago, and I think I have gotten what I wanted to out of my New York experience:

  • I was involved in all aspects of running a growing software startup. Fog Creek Software went from 9 to 23 full-time employees in my time there, and my responsibilities included technical support, sales, marketing, QA, beta and release management, project management and program management. I learned about the operational side and all the work necessary to finish a product beyond the technical work.
  • I academically bolstered my shift to the management track by getting my master’s in Technology Management from Columbia.
  • I really feel like I know my way around New York now. In most neighborhoods of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, I know restaurants and bars and fun things to do (alas, Queens and the Bronx are still mostly a mystery to me, although I at least made it to Arthur Ave, the Botanical Gardens and the Bronx Zoo) (and Staten Island was uninteresting). I’ve memorized the subway map, I’ve walked the Brooklyn Bridge, I’ve ridden the Staten Island Ferry, I’ve seen the Philharmonic in Central Park, etc. It’s been great getting to know the city, and while I could spend a lifetime learning more, I have reached a level of satisfactory acquaintance.
  • In an added bonus, I learned who I was in a new environment, making new friends, trying new things, visiting new places. It was really great for me to leave my comfortable Bay Area routine, start over and find out that I could handle it better than I would have guessed.

I will be leaving New York at the end of August, so there’s a couple weeks left in which to say good bye. I will probably be organizing a bar night out next week some time (maybe Thursday?), so contact me by comment or email if you would like to be part of those plans.

P.S. In case you were wondering why my posts have been sparse over the past few weeks, I was concentrating on my job search in California. I’m hoping to get back into a blogging rhythm soon, but we’ll see how that fits in with packing up, figuring out logistics, seeing all of my New York friends one last time, and hopefully squeezing in some last bits of sight-seeing in New York.

7 Responses to “California, here I come”

  1. Maria Ogneva Says:

    We are sad to see you go. Even though we only met a couple of times, I try to frequent your blog as much as possible. The new gig sounds amazing! Best of luck.
    Let me know what the plans are for the final shindig.

  2. rif Says:

    Welcome to Google. I hope you have a great time here. Even though we don’t know each other your well, your advice to join was definitely a factor to me a year and a half ago. I’ll look you up when I’m out in Mountain View, which is often.

  3. Charlie Says:

    Did we get something good back in the trade? It better be more than cash and draft picks!

    Sorry to see you go, man… Keep me posted on the going away gathering.

  4. Eric Nehrlich, Unrepentant Generalist || Introductions || April || 2008 Says:

    [...] California, here I come [...]

  5. Ethan Bauley Says:

    Very cool that you got to meet/interview with Hal Varien. What is he like? I’m a couple hundred pages into Information Rules at the moment myself…

    I’m also reading The Only Sustainable Edge (which I saw that you panned ;-) Frankly I’m a big fan of it as it has made some of my own strategic arguments a little more clear. And I like the overall emphasis on a) talent retention b) specialization and c) collaboration to create advantage.

    Any others you’d recommend that are similar but better in your opinion?

    Have you read The Wealth of Networks by Yochai Benkler?

    Congratulations on the new job!

  6. Eric Nehrlich, Unrepentant Generalist || The value of finance teams || June || 2011 Says:

    […] I was considering whether to take a job in Google’s finance department, a successful entrepreneur friend of mine told me I was making a mistake. He felt that designers […]

  7. Eric Nehrlich, Unrepentant Generalist || The world is small. Except when it isn’t. || September || 2009 Says:

    […] people thrive on the constant shiny newness, but I am not one of them. That was one of the reasons I moved back to California, with the goal of taking what I’d learned about large-world living in New York and balancing […]

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