In 2005, Google’s exec team (Larry, Sergey, etc) had a weekly product review meeting. We had launched Google Maps in February, and by summer, we’d integrated satellite imagery from our Keyhole (aka Google Earth) acquisition and were ready to launch — so we set up a launch review.
There was a geeky holy war on the Maps team. When Lars checked in the code to switch between maps and imagery, he called it “Satellite.” We were quickly informed that a significant % of the images were taken from airplanes — “Aerial Photography.” Our name was factually incorrect.
Being the product pragmatist I am, I thought, who cares? “Aerial Photography” doesn’t fit on a button, and every person in our usability study got what “Satellite” meant. Unfortunately, to the Keyhole GIS engineers, we were basically destroying humanity with our lies.
I could not resolve the disagreement before our launch review, so we come into the meeting room with an unnamed feature. As you might expect, the meeting devolved from a “launch review” to every Google exec and their mother naming the feature on our behalf. 🙄
Now, these exec reviews were Larry and Sergey’s favorite place to experiment with crazy meeting ideas (kind of fun, actually). I had attended one review where one founder spent the entire meeting on an elliptical machine. Their new experiment was a huge countdown clock.
The rule was: the review had to end on time. When the clock ticked zero, the buzzer would buzz, and like an NBA game, the meeting was over and decisions final.
So here we are, throwing out names like “Airplane View,” “Superman,” “I Feel Picture-y,” and this clock is ticking down
I think it was Sergey who spoke last. “Let’s call it Bird Mode.” Bzzzzzzzz.
I start to speak and am cut off — meeting over.
I look around, and it’s clearly evident the feature has officially been named “Bird Mode” in the most insane way possible.
We spend the next few days freaking out. We knew the feature was going to be huge, and now it had this name that everyone on both sides of the Satellite-vs-Aerial-Photography war agreed was silly and horrible. But it was *decided*.
So what do we do?
It turns out, when you write the code, you have a fair amount of power. 😏
We pocket vetoed the decision and launched with “Satellite.” And literally no exec noticed or remembered our review.
And we have been deceiving people with our not-really-satellite imagery ever since.
When we used imagery fr different satellites to look at things (during the first Gulf War) we referred to them as “overhead imagery”. It was a combination of imagery fr satellites, as well as, recon aircraft. In looking at Google data, it is obvious what is sat & what is aerial.
Naming takes no talent or effort to do badly.
At least with design or photography there is a tiny enough learning curve to be able to do it all that people don't think they already know how to do it better.
Well it's not that. Its actually because we have been selling ourselves all or lives in different ways n forms so we become experts in marketing as well as sales. Sales comes naturally to us so does marketing
OH in a meeting from a marketing executive to an engineering leader: "that's a fine marketing opinion. When is your next engineering meeting that I can derail with semi-informed code opinions unsupported by data?"
(continues) "what is your stance on tabs?"
OMGUH™️. & NOW I—A BLOGGER WHO STARTED ON BLOGGER & BEGAN UTILIZING FLICKR FOR PHOTOGRAPHY—AM NOW WHAT I CALL A 🎶♾SOCIALMEDIAARTIST👁🗨 from the blue screen of death to the iPhone home screen: #
JillWrites: BA, MA, MFAW
40something Adult Child of Career IT/Net Exec👶
Perfect for an episode! These are the moments that product people never forget, the decisions that define products and more so the way users experience game changing functionality. Can’t wait to get these experiences on the record 😉
Done this -- ignore the stupid idea, do the right one -- many, many times even in just design.
Don't bring up the issue and 99% of the time your can just sneak it in. No one remembers, no one checks any decisions.
I've experienced similar things at both Google and Microsoft. We developers know how the code actually works to a scary degree. Usually these things are decided by laziness - shorter descriptions, shorter CLs, etc. It's one useful optimization strategy.
You must think you've told a funny story, but every aspect of it makes me cringe. Useless meetings, arbitrary choices, cutting off acquired teams from key decisions, thinking you're worth something when you're just a cog in this machine called turbocapitalism...
OR was Sergey purposely waiting til the last minute to suggest a really bad idea so that the two divided parties come to an agreement? Sounds like the kind of management technique King Solomon had used (1 Kings 3:23-27)
It might of sounded silly at the time, but people would have gotten used to it & most likely would have become a catch phrase. For example, people don't think its silly to say "Google it" instead of "Search it"
And yet you’ve joined, pushing others also to join, the group of morons that thinks Tomato is a vegetable iso a fruit. If it is not Satellite, Bird View would have been catchy and technically more correct.. sad story actually.
12 March 2016，Li Zirui, a six-year-old boy, was killed by Deng Lili of Chenzhou Hospital in Hunan Province, China, in violation of medical taboos. write false medical records so that the child can leave the hospital after his death to continue his treatment.