Zombie Zen

Moving to Clutter

By Ross Light
Clutter logo

July 19, 2019 will be my last day at Google. I will have worked at Google for 6 years, 3 months, and 11 days (even longer since I was an intern). After a few weeks hiatus, I will be joining Clutter to work on their storage and logistics services.

From the front page of my website:

I am an artist: my primary medium is programming. I strive to create software in a variety of fields that is good, useful, and interesting. Much of the software in the world is complicated and not designed well — my mission is making software that is intuitive and beneficial to humanity.

I wrote the first draft of this personal mission statement in college, nearly a decade ago. While even at the time this seemed a bit lofty and idealistic to me, it resonated with me then and continues to resonate with me now. When I had the opportunity to join Google straight out of college in 2013, Google seemed like a natural fit for this mission. And even when I was wading through G Suite account management infrastructure, the goal for me was still: make people productive. Sand down the edges so that people can get to Google Docs more easily. Later, when I joined the Go team in 2016, I felt like I was addressing this even more directly: I’m making libraries that simplify cloud computing for people. This work was deeply rewarding and the people I met along the way were by and large smart, helpful, and wonderful people. I will truly miss them.

My decision to leave Google was difficult, but ultimately I perceive Google’s mission to be drifting away from mine. There were many events along the way that revealed this disconnect: the Memo, Maven, Dragonfly, Andy Rubin, the ill-fated AI Ethics Counsel, and the retaliation against Walkout organizers. These have been widely reported outside Google with far more depth and nuance than I possibly could do justice to here. As more came to light, the more I critically examined whether I would be able to best advance my mission elsewhere. The answer is yes.

I am excited by my new opportunity at Clutter because I will be improving access to storage and logistics, an area that is increasingly important as Americans move around more. Many life changes require storing or moving items: going away to college, getting a new job, moving in with a partner, traveling abroad, downsizing, and so on. Roughly every 1 in 10 Americans rent a self-storage unit. Clutter’s current offering moves customers’ items from their home to a Clutter warehouse (versus the prevalent “pack it yourself” model). Long-term, the goal is to enable inter-warehouse moves, allowing customers to move around physical assets with much the same ease that the cloud enables for digital assets. I believe this to be a worthwhile and beneficial endeavor.

To all my colleagues I have met along the way, thank you for your kindness and the lessons you have taught me. I have grown so much at Google and I am grateful for the opportunity I was given. Keep up the good work: I sincerely hope you succeed in making Google a great place.

And so I close, realizing that perhaps the ending has not yet been written.