Friday, March 20th, 2015 was my last day at Google. I worked there for three years and eight months. I spent the majority of my time working on Google Compute Engine, but also worked on Google Offers and "Punchd by Google" (the incarnation of Punchd post-acquisition inside of Google's Mobile Apps Lab).
I've been having a hard time coming up with the words to describe why I left. My buddy Mark put it as "Nat Welch has 'The Wanderlust'", and I think that's pretty accurate. In 2013, I was ready for a different environment. I tried living in a different city: London.
London ended up not being a great fit for me in terms of a city, although I loved walking its streets, exploring its cafés and pubs. Googlers in London were great, and my recommendation continues to be that if you want to see the real Google, work in a remote office. My time in San Francisco and London (and my visits to Zurich, San Bruno, Seattle, Kirkland and NYC) always outperformed and were far more enjoyable to my time and future visits to the Mountain View headquarters. But London as a place, I was unable to feel comfortable in. Something always seemed off, and I found myself unable to connect with people.
I realized that maybe the environmental change I needed was not my physical location (although getting that right is important), but instead my mental environment. What I was doing day to day. I sadly don't know what that optimal environment is, so I decided to try a few things to find it.
My future plans are a little rough around the edges. I'm going to NYC to attend Hacker School. I will be in the city March 24th until July 3rd. I have no plans on what I want to do after that. I've been leaning towards finding something in Seattle, but I am explicitly putting off thinking about the future until July.
While at Hacker School, my plans for projects are still forming. A lot of my thoughts have been around getting back to programming more and creating things. I've been interested in generative art lately, and have been loosely studying work to generate books, art, cities and video games with artificial intelligence and dynamic data sources. Another goal is to get back to working towards one of my core beliefs, which is that knowledge should be free. Or to paraphrase the unstoppable Niket Desai:
To help people Nat, we were born to do that. Our skills are a gift. One which we should repackage to those without gifts, because we can't keep anything when we die.
Or as how I like to put it:
Give away all of the knowledge and all of the experience because if it's not shared, no one can build upon it.