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Why I Left Google and Joined Gitpod

mikenikles profile image Mike Nikles Originally published at mikenikles.com Updated on ・5 min read

tl;dr: After almost three years of working with global enterprises on their digital transformation at Google, I joined Gitpod (www.gitpod.io) to help build the Developer & Community Success team. Gitpod caught my attention in 2019. It is clear to me that ephemeral, cloud-based development environments are going to be the default way of working and I want to be part of the team that shapes the future for millions of developers around the world!

My time at Google

I joined Google Cloud in 2018 after many years of working in the startup world. The main goal for my time there was to learn more about sales since this was one area I hadn't had much experience.
The first day, the first week, who am I kidding... the first two years were overwhelming. I learned new things every single day, attended courses on personal growth, mentorship, DEI (diversity, equity & inclusion), team building, productivity, interviewing, you name it. It felt like a university where I also got paid to partner with global businesses and work on real world challenges, mainly focused on the travel & e-commerce industries. I led internal global communities, presented at conferences and participated in strategic meetings both internally and with customers to deliver cloud migration or application modernization projects.

After two years, I started to work with a very large customer and repetition kicked in, recurring meetings dominated my calendar and my daily tasks were no longer aligned with my personal goals in life. This led me to spend more and more of my spare time pursuing my dreams, taking away time I would have much rather spent with my family.

2020

Without commute and no business travel in 2020, I had a very productive year to focus on my personal interests:

Book #1, both articles, the SaaS product, and my personal website all relate to Gitpod (www.gitpod.io).

These projects motivated me and were without a doubt a lot of fun. Most importantly, they aligned with my personal goals. I knew I needed to align my day job with something I cared about and believed in. I knew my time at Google was coming to an end.

Who in their right mind would give up a job at a global, well-paid company that repeatedly ranks as the best employer?

Read on to learn why I am that person.

Gitpod - The way we are all going to develop software

It was in mid January when Gitpod reached out to me, based on my InfoQ article I linked to above and my personal advocacy for their product. It had been well over a year since I started to use Gitpod and talk about it publicly. After an initial conversation and some back and forth, we agreed there was a good fit and working together would benefit both Gitpod and myself.

Throughout my career, I developed software but also enjoyed mentoring, writing and sharing my work at meetups, conferences or in articles. At Gitpod, I get to focus on all that - a true win/win. On top of that, we have an opportunity to improve the developer experience for millions of developers around the world - many of them don't know yet how much more efficient they could be 🚀!

Why join Gitpod?

I remember my excitement when jQuery, Bootstrap and React were in their very early days. I had a gut feeling these frontend frameworks would take the world by storm - and they sure did.
About two years ago, I experienced the same with Svelte and Tailwind CSS. They are still in their early days, but make no mistake they only just got started.

When I learned about Gitpod in 2019, my gut feeling was back, even stronger than when I heard of the technologies mentioned above.

So let me leave this here for historians to find 😀:

Automated, ephemeral development environments in the cloud are the way we are all going to develop software in the not too distant future.

Google, Uber, and more recently Shopify all already work like that, when will you start?

So, what is Gitpod?

Please read my article Cloud Based Development - from Dream to Reality to understand why Gitpod exists and what challenges it solves.

In short:

Gitpod provides always ready-to-code development environments.

As a developer, think about all the time you spend setting up a new project or working your way through onboarding documentation. What about switching context when a team member asks you to review their code? Remember the last time you troubleshooted a colleague's issue that "worked on my machine"? How about a message from the team lead telling everyone to migrate to a newer version of Node.js or Java? Let's not even talk about downloading and installing dependencies or database seed scripts that no longer work because the schema changed.

Gitpod eliminates all that.

With Gitpod, you work in an ephemeral development environment for each feature, bug fix or code review. Even better, it all happens in a browser and requires minimal compute power on your laptop. Any and all changes to the development environment setup are reviewed, tested and versioned like all your other code.

Hey, don't take my word for it. Do me favour please 🙏🏻

  1. Open your browser and navigate to your GitHub, GitLab or Bitbucket project.
  2. Prefix the URL with gitpod.io/# end hit Enter.

That's it. That's all it takes to spin up a new environment.

Hold on though, it gets better! We haven't even talked about prebuilt workspaces, custom environment images, or self-hosting Gitpod.

Check out these short screencasts to learn more:

In conclusion

Sometimes in life you have to make decisions that seem contrary to what most people would do - I'm talking about leaving Google. This is one such moment in my life, not the first and likely not the last. It is the right decision at this point in time.

I talked to many people about this decision and once I presented Gitpod, the feedback was unanimous: "Wow, I can't believe how simple that is. Join them, this is exactly what you're good at!"

I have no doubt the future of how we develop software is going to be based in the cloud. The amount of time we waste globally across all local development environments is simply not sustainable going forward. Developer experience is going to become a competitive advantage not only for hiring the best talent, but also to compete by improving productivity and reducing time to market.

Please reach out to me via Twitter @mikenikles or find me in the Gitpod community at https://community.gitpod.io. I would love to dive deeper into Gitpod and work with you to enable the next generation of software development environment for your project & team.

👋

Discussion (2)

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imhashir profile image
Hashir Baig

Wow. A very well-written piece of content. I was aware of cloud-based development like this but never got time to know about such deeper details. Best of luck for your journey ahead.

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mikenikles profile image
Mike Nikles Author

Thanks Hashir for the feedback and kind words. I'm here if I can help in anyway with Gitpod onboarding or to answer questions :)!

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