Johnathan Nightingale Profile picture
Apr 13, 2019 13 tweets 4 min read Read on X
So I want to talk about google/alphabet and “amateur hour” tactics. It’s a piece of the #BlockSidewalk discussion I may have unique perspective on.

Because they’ve run this play on me before.
I spent 8 years at Mozilla working on Firefox and for almost all of that time google was our biggest partner. Our revenue share deal on search drove 90% of Mozilla’s income.
When I started at Mozilla in 2007 there was no Google Chrome and most folks we spoke with inside were Firefox fans. They were building an empire on the web, we were building the web itself.
When chrome launched things got complicated, but not in the way you might expect. They had a competing product now, but they didn’t cut ties, break our search deal - nothing like that. In fact, the story we kept hearing was, “We’re on the same side. We want the same things.”
I think our friends inside google genuinely believed that. At the individual level, their engineers cared about most of the same things we did. Their product and design folks made many decisions very similarly and we learned from watching each other.
But Google as a whole is very different than individual googlers. Google Chrome ads started appearing next to Firefox search terms. gmail & gdocs started to experience selective performance issues and bugs on Firefox. Demo sites would falsely block Firefox as “incompatible.”
All of this is stuff you’re allowed to do to compete, of course. But we were still a search partner, so we’d say “hey what gives?”

And every time, they’d say, “oops. That was accidental. We’ll fix it in the next push in 2 weeks.”
Over and over. Oops. Another accident. We’ll fix it soon. We want the same things. We’re on the same team.

There were dozens of oopses. Hundreds maybe?

I’m all for “don’t attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence” but I don’t believe google is that incompetent.
I think they were running out the clock. We lost users during every oops. And we spent effort and frustration every clock tick on that instead of improving our product. We got outfoxed for a while and by the time we started calling it what it was, a lot of damage had been done.
This is not a thread about blaming google for Firefox troubles though. We at Mozilla wear that ourselves, me more than anyone for my time as Firefox VP. But I see the same play happening here in my city and I don’t like it. And for me it means two things:
1. The question is not whether individual sidewalk labs people have pure motives. I know some of them, just like I know plenty on the Chrome team. They’re great people. But focus on the behaviour of the organism as a whole. At the macro level, google/alphabet is very intentional.
2. When google wants to get a thing done, it is very effective. Mistakes happen, but when you see a sustained pattern of “oops” & delay from this organization - you’re being outfoxed.

Get there faster than I did.
(I was slow to come around to this — despite admiring and learning from @biancawylie and @ThisTechGirl every day — because I still have optimism about the good that civic tech can do. But this project doesn’t give me that optimism any more, if it ever did. #BlockSidewalk)

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Johnathan Nightingale

Johnathan Nightingale Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @johnath

Jun 24, 2021
Every day we see people giving 8 hours a day to their jobs, and it's not enough. The org needs more time from them just to get their stuff done. So they give 10 hours a day. But the org needs more. So they give 10.5 hours a day and 8 hours on the weekend. But the org needs more…
We've worked with thousands of leaders from hundreds of organizations. Here's the thing.

The org will always need more.
The organization will take whatever you give it. If you let it have 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, it will put them to use.

You will be more in the thick of things.
You'll feel more essential, and maybe even more heroic.

But you still won't get everything done.
Read 12 tweets
Jul 26, 2020
This is a common complaint among bosses, and its counterpart (“I totally don’t care about titles but...”) is an equally common disclaimer among job seekers. Won’t put words in Brett’s mouth, but many people assume the right thing is to do away with titles. It isn’t. 🧵
Titles are applied very inconsistently, often used as candy for new hires, and are frequently under-defined. These are true statements. But the cure for that, like most shitty management, is to hold managers accountable for doing their jobs, not throwing out useful tools.
The number one contributor to effective, happy teams is psychological safety — the clear knowledge of what’s expected of me and what risks I can take and what happens if I fail.
Read 12 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Don't want to be a Premium member but still want to support us?

Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal

Or Donate anonymously using crypto!


0xfe58350B80634f60Fa6Dc149a72b4DFbc17D341E copy


3ATGMxNzCUFzxpMCHL5sWSt4DVtS8UqXpi copy

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us!