Life after Google: A comparison to startup life

Life after Google

By Julia Enthoven

Seven months ago, I left my Product Management job at Google to work on starting a company. My co-founder and I have been working on Kapwing, an online video editor, for the last four months. In this post, I’ll compare life before and after so other big-company product managers know what they’re getting themselves into if they’re thinking about jumping ship.


  • Google: Google shuttle, 1 hour++.
  • Startup: The time it takes you to move from your bed to your desk. And occasionally Muni.

Career progression

  • Google: You spend a lot of time going through the motions of performance review and pleasing your manager, both of which are annoying.
  • Startup: You spend equally as much time on growth hacks and pleasing upvoters on product hunt, which is more fun but equally as obnoxious and random as Perf.


  • Google: Everyday for free.
  • Startup: You still eat at Google a few times a month because the VC you’re squatting in is so close to the SF office and Googler blood runs deep.
Taco Tuesday at the Google SF office

Conversations with co-workers

  • Google: “Oh, how was your weekend?”
  • Startup: I already know everything about your weekend because we chatted every hour on Hangouts.


  • Google: If your product makes money, it’s probably not fun to work in your org.
  • Startup: If your product makes money, everyone wants to work with you.

How search works

  • Google: Even though you work on Search, you barely know about how SEO ranking works, because you’re not a ranking engineer, and does anyone really understand ranking anyway?
  • Startup: SEO IS LYFE


  • Google: Text changes go through eng review, product review, design review, and Ariane approvals.
  • Startup: In the time it took to write this sentence, the text has already been changed in production.


  • Google: Multiply by 1000 and liquify whenever you want
  • Startup: Monopoly money that might be worth millions of dollars in a decade.


  • Google: I get multiple unsolicited emails from journalists every week and redirect them to the Comms team because that’s someone else’s job. Eye roll.
  • Startup: I send hundreds of unsolicited emails every week begging journalists to care about my product.


  • Google: Business trips to Zurich, Delhi, Tokyo, and Tel Aviv on the corporate card because you have partner engineering teams in remote offices.
  • Startup: It’s exciting to walk to the food truck park for lunch.

1 million users

  • Google: Probably noise. Did you flip the launch bit yet?
  • Startup: An unbridled future fantasy.


  • Google: Why are the engineers taking so long? They’re so sllloooww.
  • Startup: Why am I taking so long? I’m so sllloooww.

Mission statement

  • Google: Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
  • Startup: WIP, but I think it’s written on the first slide of the pitch deck.


  • Google: Makes six figures but still annoyed when they don’t give you a holiday gift.
  • Startup: You make less in a week than you used to make in a single peer bonus.


Offices with climbing walls vs lucky to have an office at all


  • Google: Level 8
  • Startup: 30 under 30


  • Google: All you need to do is ship a great product. If it’s a great product, people will use it, and monetization doesn’t matter.
  • Startup: You have to build a great product AND get people to use it AND make money from it. You can have a great product that people don’t use and a great product that people use and doesn’t make money. Either way, your product will die despite its greatness.


  • Google: Build awesome software, work with amazing people, dream about the future, and have a lot of fun on the way.
  • Startup: Same 🙂


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