Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Response to Stephen Nichols

Stephen, I enjoyed your article, but I'm surprised you wrote it based on poor sources and social media. Both of your sources specifically said, 'I have never heard of this guy or his work', although you didn't bother to point that out in your article. 

I suppose as a journalist, you'd prefer to interview someone in Google Managemenent who can tell you in detail how the project started and why my name is on several key patents (filed after I left the company, mind you). 

Had you requested to interview me, I could have filled you in on many other details. For example, Google took the highly unusual move of withholding my final pay check, demanding that I sign an additional intellectual property contract for Chromebook after my resignation, which I kept and could have shown you.

Chromebook (2007)

Google kept up a long correspondence with me [some of which I still have and could have shown you], asking for my advice on the design of Chromebook.

Then, in the lead up to announcing Chromebook to the public in June 2009, Google again took a highly unusual step of paying me - a former employee who hadn't worked at the company in a year and a half - an additional, small bonus check for my work on Chromebook. 

The circumstances of the patent filing were also highly unusual, and might have made a better story. First, there were two patents, not one. Both patents were filed by Google, years after I left the company. Also, both were filed without my signature on any of the normal patent documents. Also, Google hired an outside attorney to do the filing, one of the top intellectual property lawyers in the country. Given the size and complexity of the patent filings, I'd estimate Google paid in the neighborhood of half a million dollars in legal fees for the two patents. Sadly, the lawyers were paid far, far more for writing the patents than I was ever paid for creating Chromebook technology, given the small bonus check was my only reward after much blood, sweat and tears.

Instead of paraphrasing social media, you might want to talk to Google's Management team, who were involved with the project since the beginning and can give you specifics far beyond 'I dont know', including:

Brian Rakowski, the first PM of the Chrome project and one of the people who contributed to setting up the original Chromebook project in 2007.

Darren Upton, the first tech lead manager of the Chrome project, who helped us out with moving the webtop work I had been doing for the previous year, from Firefox to Chrome.

Mike Jazayari, the Director of Chrome and someone I worked very closely with on a day-to-day basis. Mike also wrote the business case and ran several of the meetings with executives at Google and partner talks with HP and Asus. Mike coined the term 'Chromebook'.

Jeff Huber, the VPE who approved the Chrome and Chromebook projects and granted us an allocation of full-time engineers to build a consumer operating system for the first time at Google.

Larry Page, who contributed useful feedback during the early product definition and prioritized the popular instant-boot feature.