After nearly five years at Google, I am leaving the company, effective at the end of the day today. My time at Google afforded a tremendous number of opportunities; I was able to take part in growing the company's first remote engineering office from 5 engineers in 2003 to nearly 450 today, I was able to conduct blue-sky exploration of applying Google's data and computing infrastructure to web information extraction, and, more recently, I was able to help build an all-star team that just shipped Google Ad Manager.
Contrary to what glowing articles in Fortune or Fast Company might tell you, the best part of working at Google has nothing to do with the free meals, subsidized massages, or even the stock options. The best part of working at Google has been the chance to collaborate, to innovate, and to explore with the most talented collection of people I could ever imagine. Missing those people every day is the hardest part of leaving this company.
I don't know yet what my next challenge will be, but I hope to go somewhere very small and take part in building a company from the ground up. Wish me luck!