As of March 17th I’ll be an ex-employee. It’s an amicable separation in the face of irreconcilable differences: I wouldn’t move to California and Google wouldn’t open a Vancouver office. I haven’t decided what to do next.

Let’s go with Q&A format.

Seriously, about remote work? · Yep. Both before and after being hired, I had been asked to consider moving south. I didn’t want to and politely declined. Eventually, the group I’m in politely informed me that staying remote wasn’t an option. I talked to a couple of other groups but my heart wasn’t really in it, because I decided Google’s position was correct.

But isn’t remote work the future? · I don’t know. I’m pretty sure it’s possible to build a company around the notion of a distributed workforce, but I don’t know how far you can scale it. Anyhow, that’s not the kind of company Google has chosen to build. How reasonable is it to argue, given the results they’ve been getting?

I would have been more effective in my job if I’d moved, and probably would have enjoyed the work more.

So why not move already? · Because my heart is in Vancouver, its greens and greys and unfussily variegated people, and in Canada. Plus I find the Bay Area congested, racist, incestuous, and overpriced. So I was never really tempted.

How do you feel? · Sad; I’ll miss the chance to use the Google fulcrum which, applied intelligently, has enough leverage to move the whole Internet. Also, a lot of really cool people work there; I’ll miss them most. And the pay is good.

So you’re mad at Google? · Nope; they gave me four years of super-interesting work, paid me generously, and the termination arrangements were fair.

Now you can say it: Google is actually evil, right? · I don’t think so; but get back to me later. I shouldn’t write too much about Google in-the-large until I’ve got more perspective.

Also I know all sorts of non-public information which I’ve promised to keep non-public; and I keep my promises. So I have to be super-careful not to offer opinions too informed by that sort of data.

What’s next? · Beats me. Seriously, I haven’t figured that out. From a financial point of view I could just stop working, but that would be boring and unhealthy. On the other hand, spring’s almost here and summer’s around the corner, and I’d like to drink a little deeper of both than I have in recent years.

Will you be CTO for our wonderful startup? · Probably not, even if it combines Internet of Things, Big Data, and Gamification. Especially not those things.

I suffer from possibly-excessive cynicism and haven’t seen a new technology in a while that struck me as a real life-changer-at-scale. So I have trouble imagining a product I could get behind with startup-level commitment.

But I totally enjoy getting startup pitches and if you give me yours, I might have something useful to say.

What are you interested in? · I’m interested in the Internet and its interaction with the world. I care so much more about the thing as a whole than any of the products that inhabit it. A chance to serve as a full-time partisan of the Net, especially with a bit of technology hands-on, would get my attention.

On the policy side, I’m interested in the power relationships around identity and privacy, and how to use market forces and regulations in the interest of the people who use the Internet.

On the technology side, I’m interested in identity protocols, functional programming, and augmented reality. In recent weeks, I’ve been troubled by an insanely ambitious augmented-reality idea, a notion that could touch a billion lives, only I don’t see how you make money with it. I probably lack the will-power to not tinker with it.

Realistically, I probably should do something connected to Identity, because the issues aren’t easy to master; I know because I just invested a couple of years trying. And I’m really good at explaining OAuth.

I feel deepening guilt about never having done much teaching. My profession has been immoderately generous in teaching me over the decades and there should be a way to give back. On the other hand, while I give good public speeches, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’d be a good teacher.

Will you keep blogging? · I can’t not write, about the world in general, life online in particular, and Internet technology in particular particular. It’ll be easier now that I don’t have to assume that my voice will be taken for Google’s. It’d be nice to be paid for it but I’ll do it in any case.

And in the short term? · There are a few more weeks of Google work. Starting Feb. 25th I’ll be at MWC in Barcelona, helping launch OpenID Connect; if you’re there, let’s have tapas! The week of March 3rd I’ll be at IETF 89 in London and would be happy to socialize; or, at either event, to brief you on OpenID Connect (which is really very good) and the details of what Google’s doing with it.

Or to talk about cameras, or Ingress, or your startup, or augmented reality, or whatever it is we as a species are going to do with this Internet thing we’ve created by making it up as we go along. Let’s make up some more!


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: d.w. (Feb 20 2014, at 10:09)

I’m sure whatever you end up doing (even if it’s just increasing the number of photos you take) will be interesting.

Best of luck!


From: S. Rose (Feb 20 2014, at 10:17)

Somebody from Vancouver said that the Bay Area is expensive? It's true, but from here it's very hard to tell. It is a hard place to live, though, for a variety of lifestyle issues related mostly to competition for resources.


From: Teresa (Feb 20 2014, at 10:24)

I agree with your description of the bay area. And in my opinion. Seattle, WA is not much different. I wouldn't move to either place for a job, specially if I was from Vancouver. Good luck on your new endeavors.


From: Mark S (Feb 20 2014, at 11:16)

> I could just stop working, but that would be boring and unhealthy.

In Praise of Idleness

by Bertrand Russell

But no, please do something to improve the transit system in Vancouver. That'll actually improve people's lives!


From: Kevin Marks (Feb 20 2014, at 11:17)

I bet you'd find the indieweb work going on interesting. or #indiewebcamp on freenode.


From: Jeremy (Feb 20 2014, at 11:23)

I'm glad you're not hanging it up. A brilliant mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Good luck with the future endeavors, whatever they may be.


From: Seivan Heidari (Feb 20 2014, at 11:28)

Hey! It's interesting that you should mention identity and then at the end of the article mention World Mobile Congress.

I've been working on for Ericsson that will be presented by Ericsson on WMC.

We did some research initially. Didn't really find anything interesting about Open ID connect although I did have a short discussion over Twitter (yeah I know) with Sakimura.

It might be interesting to see what you guys present about Open ID Connect that I missed out on.

We decided to go with OAuth 2 - even though I pressured for OAuth with signed requests.

I worked on the iOS SDK and the iOS application that might be Sherlocked by Apple. (Still under review)

I'd like that comment you offered about stuff that interested you now :)

Jokes aside, nice to see that is what you're interested in.


From: Farhan Memon (Feb 20 2014, at 11:28)

Why do you say that the Bay Area is racist? As a Canadian living there I thought it was one of the most diverse, multi-cultural and tolerant places in North America. If you have first world skills its like heaven.


From: Sandy Ressler (Feb 20 2014, at 11:43)

Wow good luck! I've been fascinated with bitcoin these days, if you want to get up to speed quick give me a holler. Lots of good privacy and identity issues there.


From: Ron P. (Feb 20 2014, at 11:44)

Did you look into moving to the Seattle Google offices? My wife and I love Vancouver and head up there for weekends whenever we can. But Seattle is great too, and we like it here.


From: Perry (Feb 20 2014, at 11:46)

Best of luck to you in the future. I've always seen your name here and there but never knew where you were located.

>Plus I find the Bay Area congested, racist, incestuous, and overpriced.

As a bay area native, I find it strange to hear that it's racist. I'm asian and there is a large asian, latino, and other non-white population here. I find the bay area to be much less racist than other parts of the country. I was born in Canada, and after coming to the bay area, I've always felt that there was more racism in Canada than in the bay area. More specifically, in subtle ways. No doubt, there is a resurgence in racist attitudes, especially coming from the republican party, but that's not the norm in the bay area. As for the congestion and expense, that's definitely a problem here and would probably require a huge adjustment if you moved here.


From: gvb (Feb 20 2014, at 11:57)

Good luck with your next step.

A personal observation: I found your blog more interesting (primarily because it was more technical) before you joined Google. I'm looking forward to it blossoming again. :-)


From: Francis Brunelle (Feb 20 2014, at 11:58)

Regarding identity protocols, I think that the most promising effort at the moment is the Tent protocol. It's still in the early stages, but please take a look at it on


From: Fergal Moran (Feb 20 2014, at 12:01)

Lovely read Tim, best of luck in the future.


From: Waffle Maker (Feb 20 2014, at 12:02)

You come off as pretentious and not very fun to work with. Google made a good move with dropping you. Please stay in Vancouver, you're not the hot shit you think you are.


From: Waffle Maker (Feb 20 2014, at 12:19)

I actually take back what I said, you actually are hot shit, and you know what, you should actually come to the Bay Area and try to help out.

I'm not saying come to work at Google, but just come and create, and help!


From: Eddie Welker (Feb 20 2014, at 12:21)

Good luck!

> And I’m really good at explaining OAuth.

Teach it! I'd love to hear you describe it.


From: Srinagesh Eranki (Feb 20 2014, at 12:21)

All the best for the future Tim


From: Steve Muench (Feb 20 2014, at 12:23)

Tim, good luck in your next adventure.

Why not do a MOOC course on what you love for Udacity so hundreds of thousands could learn from you?


From: Mark Alexander (Feb 20 2014, at 12:24)

I'm actually surprised Google let you work remotely for so long. I am fortunate enough to work for a large Silicon Valley software company that has a few remote employees (I live in rural Vermont). Every few months a Google recruiter contacts me, and each time I have to explain that, no, I am not moving back to California and have no desire to work in a noisy office with an open floor plan.

Good luck with your future endeavors!


From: Tyler Kellogg (Feb 20 2014, at 12:47)

You'd be surprised how many people have quit Valley based companies to live in Vancouver. I've seen it quite a lot over the last few years.

I'm surprised Google wont budge... Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter are all growing here and Salesforce has been around for a long time.

Honestly, having lived in many places, you made the right call. Technologists can make an impact from anywhere but building a city like Vancouver takes a very very long time (Good Luck Mountain View :) ).


From: Jonathan Silverman (Feb 20 2014, at 13:01)

Blah blah blah.

Just say it.

It's archaic, closed-minded and they suck for it.

Google uses their culture to own their employees.


From: Laura Hamilton (Feb 20 2014, at 13:11)

I am slightly scared by the fact that you don't come out and say Google is not evil, based on your confidential inside information...

It sounds like you made a good choice given what's important to you. Good luck with your future endeavors!


From: Erik S (Feb 20 2014, at 13:18)

I hope you'll do well outside of Google and find something that will keep you happy.

From reading what you're interested in, may I suggest that you perhaps look at Mozilla? They sound like a pretty good match. Especially when it comes to the part where you mentioned identity and big players on the network.


From: Geoff Arnold (Feb 20 2014, at 13:52)

From Twitter:

mestery: Eleventy billion. RT @geoffarnold: So Tim Bray's leaving Google. I wonder how many job offers he's had via @feedly


From: David Megginson (Feb 20 2014, at 14:07)

Tim: you once devoted your time to the problem of data on the web. That problem remains unsolved, and it's calling to you.

The *other* Tim -- the one who solved the Hypertext problem with a brilliantly-simple worse-is-better approach 25 years ago -- has inexplicitly pursued an opposite strategy for online linked data, drawing fantasy blueprints for Semantic-Web cathedrals. There's no more future in than there was in the overly-elaborate HyperText visions he once demolished.

XML - the POX flavour, not the WS-* flavour - took a couple of steps in the right direction, but it tried to solve too many problems at once with a common format for documents and data (which are different, whatever we all thought back in 1998). Coders love JSON, but no one else can do much with it, and data can't be just for coders. Most of the data-aware world uses spreadsheets, but CSV is a bugger for distributed, linked data.

So please don't leave us yet. I'm glad you had a good run in corporate America, but now that you're back, there's *real* work left to do. The solution to distributed/linked online - when we find it - is going to appear so simple that future generations will think we were idiots for not realising it all along.


From: Ben (Feb 20 2014, at 14:22)

Couldn't all the things you've said about the Bay Area being, "congested, racist, incestuous, and overpriced" also be said about Vancouver?

Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't Vancouver have the highest cost of living and largest poverty gap of any major city in Canada? Seems to me that Vancouver is already the Bay Area of the great white north.


From: Kavita Khaitan (Feb 20 2014, at 14:35)

Tim its very nice to read about the reasons you wouldnt move to CA inspite of your love for all things beings and how the internet connects us, it says a lot about your integrity and personality.....i would very much like to pitch an idea to you, how does one reach you..!!


From: huh (Feb 20 2014, at 16:35)

Bay Area racist?? HUH?


From: guest (Feb 20 2014, at 16:46)

Could you elaborate on why you find the SF Bay Area to be racist? What are the worst aspects of racism there? Is racism prevalent at Google itself or just among non-Googlers who live and work in the area?


From: tim (Feb 20 2014, at 18:49)

Many companies successfully manage large distributed workforce. Many much larger than google. However - tech companies seem to not be able to function without an individual being seen and that is a sad tale of the state of the tech industry.


From: Brett Slatkin (Feb 20 2014, at 19:06)

We'll miss you, Tim. But looking forward to interacting across the wall again!


From: Tony Fisk (Feb 20 2014, at 19:19)

Well, I don't think you'll find it hard to find something to do (deciding what it should be may be another matter)

I am currently unemployed, due to a combination of redundancy, lack of work, and the unceasing demand for 'home duties' (tip: don't get a dog)

From time to time I've been contacted by a few SV headhunters (Google included) who wanted me to come over and work. Being based in Melbourne, Australia, I am not inclined to move so far. I find it rather strange and presumptious that they *expect* me to. I can only assume they haven't checked the cost of airline tickets.


From: Paul Cotton (Feb 20 2014, at 19:24)

>So why not move already?

As a Canadian living in Ottawa and working remotely for 14+ years for Microsoft in Seattle, I get asked this question all the time.

I liked your answer and can sympathize with your views.

All the best in the future and the next time I transit through Vancouver I will try to get in touch so we can catch up.

Or maybe we could see a Vancouver Canadians game this summer?



From: bf (Feb 20 2014, at 20:28)

I agree with all your other comments about the Bay area having lived there for 15 years but racist? I don't get that one -- it's far more diverse than a lot of the world. In fact I don't think there's a majority group overall (definitely certain areas have a majority though!)


From: Peter Keane (Feb 20 2014, at 23:05)

Here's my favorite recent quote from your blog:

"Me, maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I think that large-scale information management ought to be a core competence of government, just like routing is for Fedex and searching is for Google; and they ought to hire (not contract, hire) the best people to build and run it, and pay them top dollar."

You can probably guess what I think you should move into next :-). It makes me sad to think that the public sector (which largely spawned the Internet) is getting an infinitesimally small fraction of the benefit it could be getting from it.


From: Gavin B. (Feb 20 2014, at 23:05)

Genius loci - the creative spirits of place - Tim,

means not being the cat that walked by himself and all places were alike to him.


Perhaps, Thinking locally - acting globally.

[1] Slide 3 here:


From: whatever (Feb 21 2014, at 00:53)

>> there is a large asian, latino, and other non-white population here

>> Bay Area racist?? HUH?

>> it's far more diverse...

right-o. only white people can be racist


From: Bob Aman (Feb 21 2014, at 01:48)

FWIW, I would have loved to have had you as one of my professors back in the day. Honestly, I'd say you should give that thought (or perhaps even teaching via something like Coursera) a good look.


From: Ian Rae (Feb 21 2014, at 06:39)

For technical work, working remotely is quite practical, especially if in a nearby timezone. Most tech companies recognize this.

Always interesting blog. Good luck on your imminent and future careers!


From: Twirrim (Feb 21 2014, at 06:52)

> I am slightly scared by the fact that you don't come out and say Google is not evil, based on your confidential inside information...

Tim will have signed NDA agreements which cover a lot of private information. Any public opinion expressed has to be done so based only on what is public or he'll be in breach and that's just not worth it. If he was to express an opinion in either way he'd be in breach. His answer doesn't mean they're either good or evil just that he can't answer :-)

NDAs and guidelines around who can and cannot speak publicly are quite common among larger companies, the latter in no small part because they've either been bitten or seen other companies being bitten by employees accidentally saying the wrong thing and the company having to do lots of emergency PR work.


From: Pat (Feb 21 2014, at 07:41)

The Bay Area racist? In what way? What have you experienced? I've been here 10 years and I consider it one of the most tolerant, diverse areas in the world. At Sun, for a while I had an Indian director, and in my next role, my director and I were the only white people in his staff of 10. At Salesforce, the team I work in has a kaleidoscope of skin tones, and no one is favored because of their pigmentation. In most working and social environments here, racism would be completely unexpected, alien, and certainly not tolerated.


From: Josh (Feb 21 2014, at 08:17)

I enjoy reading your posts from way over here in the Midwest. Looking forward to hearing what you have to say in your ongoing posts.

I could certainly see some ideological racism from the bay area. I can feel it, being so far removed physically. I hope you find some great minds wherever you do what you'll do.


From: Doug Landauer (Feb 21 2014, at 09:11)

Best of luck!

After reading your blog posting yesterday, it seemed somehow surreal today when I heard the news folks on kgo radio read a summary of it.


From: mathew (Feb 21 2014, at 09:39)

I've repeatedly turned down Google recruiters because I, too, am unwilling to move to the Bay Area.

Maybe one day they'll realize that they're hurting their ability to recruit, but apparently that realization won't be happening in 2014.


From: Robert Dall (Feb 21 2014, at 11:39)

On you break will you be contributing to Wikipedia more?


From: Martin1 (Feb 21 2014, at 14:01)

"From: Farhan Memon (Feb 20 2014, at 11:28)

Why do you say that the Bay Area is racist? As a Canadian living there I thought it was one of the most diverse, multi-cultural and tolerant places in North America. If you have first world skills its like heaven."

I think you have answered your question by yourself: "If you have first world skills"


From: PaulS (Feb 21 2014, at 15:18)

In North America, a 'racist' is a white person who doesn't like non-whites. But racism exists all over the world.

Racial and ethnic strife exists among the following groups:

Japanese and Chinese

Indians and Pakistanis

Mexicans and Guatemalans

Arabs, Pashtuns, Tajiks

and many more.

As a high-tech center, San Francisco attracts immigrants from all over the world, and the racial attitudes of those immigrants reflect that.


From: Say What! (Feb 21 2014, at 18:15)

Curious about bay area being racist. As an immigrant who has lived all over the US, bay area is one place where I don't feel scared to venture out. Why do you say this place is racist?


From: Ram (Feb 21 2014, at 19:49)

+1 to PaulS


From: Bud Ryerson (Feb 22 2014, at 21:01)

After spending some time in Vancouver, I came back through the Island. On a ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles, I saw a black person. I was surprised by the realization of how long it had been since I had seen a black person.

I live in San Francisco and I take serious exception to someone from Vancouver, British Columbia calling my town racist.


From: ST (Feb 23 2014, at 12:26)

I'll give you the overpriced part, but I'm curious as to why you'd label the Bay Area as racist? It's certainly one of the most culturally diverse areas in the entire United States.


From: Jon (Feb 24 2014, at 04:34)

Racist? Was this in some other parallel universe that the rest of us haven't visited? Maybe in a virtual / augmented reality experience but in RL, no.


From: Unimpressed (Feb 24 2014, at 07:58)

This blog feels like you're hedging your bets way too much. Tell us what you really feel rather than kissing Google's asses please.

And praising Google for having smart people is kind of sickening. Who cares if they're smart, if they're in bed with the NSA and Pentagon. That's the evil kind of smart. But I guess you're OK with that.

Your complaints about the Bay Area sound strangely out of touch, like you googled "bad sounding words" and chose a few at random.


From: Zaheda (Feb 24 2014, at 11:05)

Tim all the best with the change you are embarking on! You will land on your feet doing what you love, of that I am sure. Dinner in London around IETF would be fabulous!


From: Christina (Feb 26 2014, at 22:14)

I'm not sure how you developed your description of the Bay Area. The "Bay Area" is not one anything. There's a lot of diversity. It isn't even all congested. "Incestuous"? Huh? And what magical fairyland have you visited that has no racism?

But, as a San Franciscan, I'm glad to see one less person moving here. So thanks for that!


From: len (Mar 04 2014, at 09:32)

You chose happiness.

You have chosen wisely. :)

Good luck, Tim!


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