I’m Joining Google

I am very excited to announce that I will be joining Google as a Developer Programs Engineer in the Web Content Ecosystems team, starting in November. As you may have heard, Google is building a team particularly focusing on the WordPress platform, and that very team I am going to be part of – so I am not leaving the WordPress space. Quite the contrary: Google is heavily invested in improving the open web, and the popularity of the WordPress platform allows for wide adaption of such improvements. I will continue to contribute to WordPress, even more so, my new position will be entirely dedicated to the open web. In this post I would like to share some background on this step and what it means to me personally.

Upcoming Changes

Although WordPress continues to be an important part of my job, joining Google is obviously a major change for my career which will also affect my personal life a lot. I have been a freelancer for as long as I have been a web developer, working remotely, from home, from a café, from a park, in whatever country. At Google I will work from their offices in Zürich, Switzerland, which from what I heard are the biggest Google hub outside of the US.

This of course means that I have to leave my beloved hometown Wuppertal (the greenest city in all of Germany), where I have lived for my entire life. It is going to be hard moving away from here, but my excitement for the new position and Zürich make me totally comfortable in that. Actually, I have for many years thought that, whenever I leave Wuppertal, I would move to another country, and I’m pretty amazed that this is now becoming a reality.

I will also give up remote working, but honestly I have in recent months come to a point where I more and more suffered from the downsides of it, although I of course still loved that freedom of working from wherever. I’m looking forward to working from an office with coworkers who I can chat with, laugh with, learn from. Also, with Google having locations across the globe, I’m sure there will still be enough opportunities to see different places.

“Wait, I thought you work at Yoast”

You may know that I have been working for Yoast part-time as a freelancer since early this year. It’s been an amazing few months, and it is unfortunate timing that it had to end so quickly for me. They have an awesome team and agenda, and I have always enjoyed spending time with them in-person in their offices in Wijchen, which I now think I should have done way more regularly. That I am leaving them has absolutely nothing to do with them, and I would choose to join them anytime again.

It was a bit of an unfortunate situation that I had only been working at Yoast for so briefly, but at the same time did not want to pass on the opportunity to get to work at Google. I also did not want them to think that I just take the first best opportunity to work for another company. In short, I wanted to be upfront with them, so the Yoast board has for a while already been aware of me being in the application process for Google. They have actually been very supportive, and their reactions were beyond my expectations, exactly what you would expect from an outstanding employer as they are. Nothing in their positive attitude has changed since then, for example just the other week they allowed me to share some of my thoughts on open-source.

A few days ago I then shared the news with the rest of the team on the Yoast Slack, and was again overwhelmed by the reactions. Our ride together was brief, but wonderful. We are definitely gonna keep in touch, and I am sure our ways will cross each other more than once in the future – I’ll see you around!

The New Team

As previously mentioned, Google is building a web content ecosystems team, so I’m beyond excited for whom I am going to collaborate with in this. Not only will I join Alberto, a few weeks ago Weston also announced that he is going to be part of the team, as well as Thierry, and I know of at least one more person who will join the team as well (don’t ask me, I won’t tell you). I’m looking forward to working together with such talented folks – and even friends, which is amazing in addition.

Furthermore, Google is a global and diverse company with talent from all over the world and vastly different expertises, so I see endless opportunities to collaborate and learn there – especially about things outside of WordPress, many of which I’m sure we’ll be able to then apply and give back to the project.

As part of my WordPress-related work, I will be able to get more involved with development of the AMP and PWA plugins, to which I have already contributed before, and a few other exciting projects – I’m looking forward to what the future holds.

What’s Next?

Over the next few weeks I will prepare my move to Zürich, take care of passing on some of my current projects, and other necessary maintenance. A nice twist on this is that I will also go on a short trip in the Pacific Northwest which I had already planned several months ago. Especially with my new position, I see it as a great opportunity now to get some vacation before diving into the new action! In addition, as part of the trip I will attend and speak at WordCamp Portland, which is a perfect fit because Alberto and Weston are going to be there as well.

And then, I’m moving to Zürich! I am very much looking forward to this new future, and to continuing improving the open web, together with the new team and the resources of Google.

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