The Man Who Walked Away From Google

By Nathan Weinberg

There are probably a lot of people who walked away from Google or were fired before getting their megabucks stock options. The Mercury News is running an article on one of them. Alberto Savoia left Google in 2002 to co-found Agitar, which “Provide[s] commercial services to help automate and manage the process of developer testing for Java.” Agitar’s co-founder, Roongko Doong, also passed on an offer from Google, and Agitar has 55 employees, 30 in Google’s backyard in Mountain View.

Savoia said he has tried to borrow from Google’s culture, including a grueling hiring process and free lunches to cultivate an esprit de corps among his 55 employees, including 30 in Mountain View.

At the company headquarters, workers sit at tables made from doors. The company’s developers stitch code side by side.

Savoia said he was attracted to the decidedly unimpressive office because it reminded him of Google’s corporate digs when he joined the company in late 2001.

“It was a dump. I thought, ‘I don’t know if I want to work here,’” he recalled.

But when he spotted the nondescript Mountain View office that would become Agitar’s world headquarters, “We said, ‘This is the place.;”

Savoia’s wife says in the article she has no regrets, and hopes it will serve as an example to their two children. Eric Schmidt tried to get Savoia to stay, predicting Google would be worth $100 billion (he was right). Sovoia left because, as a developer, “my passion is not selling ads on the Net”, and Google is certainly an advertising company these days.

Agitar is creating software testing technology that aims to lower development costs by automating the manual process of finding bugs and security holes in Java code, the world’s most popular programming language. The idea is to catch problems early on, before the code is passed on to the quality assurance team. Bugs and security problems cost corporations billions of dollars a year in lost productivity, glitches and the work needed to fix them.

He and co-founder Roongko Doong hope to revolutionize how developers weed out software bugs and security holes. The company, also in Mountain View, has received three funding rounds from venture capitalists such as Sequoia Capital and New Enterprise Associates. It has also garnered numerous awards for its technology.

I wonder how much he would have made from Google stock, compared to how much his company is worth (assuming it is profitable, never a guarantee). There must be a sense of satisfaction in building your own business, one that, to some people, is worth more than millions of dollars received because of others’ success.


They’re also running an article on two former Stanford peers of Google co-founder Page and Brin, who are starting a competing search engine. I’m sensing a theme here.

The two sold Junglee to Amazon, and then approached Google on behalf of Amazon to buy Google.

Brin turned them down, saying he would consider selling Google only if they offered $1 billion or more. At the time, Amazon wasn’t willing to pay that much, said Rajaraman.

But with Google now worth over $100 billion, turns out Brin wasn’t asking that much.

February 5, 2006 by Nathan Weinberg in:

One Response to “The Man Who Walked Away From Google”

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