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And Now for Something Completely Different

What I left Google to do
February 14, 2019

Last month I left my iOS engineering position at Google after working there for a little under two and a half years. During my time at Google I saw a lot of “Why I Quit Google” blog posts go by, they seem to make the rounds almost monthly.

Gif of many google search results for quitting google There’s a whole lot of these.

They grab people’s attention and it’s not hard to see why. Working at Google positions you alongside some of the best engineering talent in the world. The comp is great, Google engineers are afforded a ton of flexibility in what they work on, are lavished with free food and other fancy perks, and get to enjoy name dropping an employer everyone immediately recognizes.

So why would you ever leave?

In my case the answer has a lot to do with this:

A kakuro puzzle

No, I didn’t quit my job to spend more time doing number puzzles (although that sounds like a lot of fun). This is a screenshot from my iOS app Kakuro Endless, which I plan to write more about down the line.

I released Kakuro Endless in December 2017. I built it because I love kakuro puzzles, but found the existing apps in the marketplace to have design problems that made using them more of a headache than it needs to be.

At the time I didn’t have any notion of what the market would be like for such a game, how many users to expect, or whether there was any potential to monetize. It seemed possible that it’d be a hit (afterall, I believe it has a better interface than any of the alternatives), but also possible that it’d remain buried in the depths of the appstore listings, undiscovered. In short, I made the app primarily for myself, with very tempered expectations.

However, immediately after launching Kakuro Endless I realized I’d underestimated how much gratification I’d get from seeing other people playing it. First it was occasional comment and message from friends and family using it, but then I integrated firebase analytics and found myself checking daily to track my DAU.

A chart showing a year of Kakuro Endless DAU These numbers aren’t so big, but that’s kinda the point!

Between my work at Facebook and Google I’ve written code that’s been used by huge numbers of people, but I found myself valuing the experience of gathering these few thousand users more. Whether it was because I was fully responsible for the product, because of the sense that something I built and owned was growing in value, or something else entirely, this was fulfilling a need that my day job wasn’t.

That feeling grew through 2018 and so I decided I’d take some time and try to pursue it and see where it leads me. I’m planning on working independently through 2019, or as long as I’m finding it rewarding and am able to financially justify it.

I won’t be working exclusively on Kakuro Endless, although I’m excited to have the time to give it some care. In fact I plan on expanding my projects beyond iOS apps and puzzle games entirely, into areas that interest me but that I haven’t had a chance to explore. I’ll also be devoting some time to things I value aside from programming that have fallen out of focus this year, like exercise, reading, and music.

As I write this post I’m a month into 2019 and have already begun exploring some new projects, one of which I’ll be excited to share in the next week or so. So far I’m happy with the return I’ve gotten on my time and my excitement outweighs my Google nostalgia, so I’ll be staying the course for the foreseeable future.

If you’re interested in updates on what I build, follow me on Twitter or check back here where I’ll be tracking my projects and whatever else comes to mind.