Well, seems like the news is out ;)
Pretty tough to keep a secret, so I guess I shouldn't really be surprised.
It's hard to believe, but it's been almost 5 years since I joined my first app store (GetJar in 2008). So much has changed since then. The emergence of iOS and Android as the two dominant mobile operating platforms, the amazing rise of tablets, the establishment of mobile gaming as a mass market platform and of course the re-branding of Android market to Google play among other things.
As for Google, well it's been a pretty amazing ride. I have to admit it was a bit ironic for me to join the same company I'd been throwing stones at for years from my perch at GetJar. What I can say in all honesty is that many of the issues I ranted over have really improved over the past few years. Developer monetization, app discovery, international expansion, payments, localization and developer tools have all increased markedly. Moreover, Android Market made the transition from "free" app store to full fledged media hub. I think few would argue that Google doesn't take content seriously anymore. Fewer still would argue how successful the company has been over the past few years at making the changes that were needed to create a viable challenger to the App Store although a lot still remains to be done. This has been, in large part, due to the incredibly hard work, passion and dedication of the team at Google Play. In my time there, one of the things I discovered about Google is what truly sets this company apart from others: its people and culture. I could never have imagined what it would be like to work there. The level of transparency, the endless quest to think big and make a lasting difference, the passion for building disruptive products, and the endless concerns over user experience and privacy. All these things are very real and they ultimately are what drive nearly every person to be their best and to work with unending passion at what they do. I don't think this is something that non-Googler's can easily understand. People at other companies drink the cool aid. Googlers swim in it.
As for me, I'm going to go back to what I love best: building small, innovative companies. Most likely in the consumer services and/or content space. As I look around, I've never been more excited about what's happening in mobile. I believe the next few years are going to revolutionize the way content is produced, distributed and consumed. A number of industries are reeling from the changes mobile and tablets have brought to the market already:
- The games industry where +Nintendo Wii U sales have gotten off to a timid start since launching in November. At the same time +Microsoft managed to alienate gamers and retailers the world over with policies ranging from requiring consumers to stay connected while denying them the right to play used games on their new consoles (they’ve since backtracked on both of these points)
- The transportation industry where companies like +Uber and +Sidecar are disrupting the market by making it easier for consumers to hitch a ride when they want, wherever they want without even needing to carry a wallet while drivers benefit from safer customers and cashless payments. Just imagine what's next? Personally, I need a mobile babysitter service please!
- Healthcare where companies like Health Tapp are providing consumers readily accessible medical information and seamless access to doctors to reduce doctor visits and trips the hospital. This app helped me figure out I had a fractured toe and how to take care of it without ever seeing a doctor.
So its off to a new adventure for the Mad Belgian and I'm looking forward to every second of it. For now, some well earned vacation and summer with my kids. But this next chapter is going to be amazing and I look forward to writing it with some of you reading this post!
To quote someone famous: If you do what you love, you'll never work another day in your life.