Meet Google’s Evangelist Army

21 Comments

We all know that Google is huge, right? Like, a globe-spanning colossus, in fact. But every now and then we come across a tangible sign of just how broad the company is and how many different pies it has its fingers in. For example, take a look at this list of the company’s “developer advocates.” They’re the ones who work with third-party developers on applications and services that integrate with some of Google’s various business units. And there are more than 75 of them.

They are broken down into categories as well, including Ads and Commerce, Cloud, Geo, Google Apps, Mobile, Social and TV/Video — and a whole other category called “Other Google APIs.” The list includes some bona fide technology industry stars, too, including one-time Napster executive and former Microsoft evangelist Don Dodge, as well as Android advocate Tim Bray, the former director of web technologies at Sun Microsystems and co-developer of XML.

Having so many evangelists is a great example of what Google does well. Unlike a lot of other large technology companies, it provides public and open APIs for dozens of different parts of its business, from maps and search to images, Android and YouTube. These open interfaces allow developers to plug into the giant company’s databases and create incredible features and services using that content, and even some things that may not be all that useful but are still pretty amazing — like MapCrunch, which takes you to a random location somewhere in the world via Google’s Street View.

That said, of course, there is still a risk of spreading the company’s resources too thin. For every two or three developer advocates on that list, there is a different line of business that the company is either trying to expand or doing its best to support. Pretty soon, Google will need a VP of Evangelism (if it doesn’t already have one) to keep track of all its developer evangelists. Even a huge entity like Google, with a massive pool of more than $40 billion in cash and a market value of $200 billion, is potentially at risk of losing focus by trying to do too many things at once.

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Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user John O’Nolan

21 Comments

wilner

google is big and keeps getting bigger. Its voracious appetite for any and all information, sucking up content/emails/facts, and using that information to run advertising. Yuck. I’ll stick with DuckDuckGo.

Don Dodge

Mathew, There are actually more than 75 of us. This list was voluntary, some didn’t want to be on it. More have been hired since the list was put together.

There are lots of super stars on this team. Tim Bray and I are the old guys that have been around a long time. Many people on the team have authored technical books. Check out Wesley Chun, Ade Oshineye, Chris Schalk, Chris Wilson, and Michael Mahemoff. Others have several patents to their name. All of them rock!

Mike Winton is our leader. Awesome guy, totally devoted to developers. BTW, we are called Developer Advocates for a reason. We represent the interests of developers to the company, and help developers build great products.

Don Dodge

Mathew Ingram

Thanks, Don. I find it interesting that some didn’t want to be on the list. That seems odd for someone who is supposed to be an advocate/evangelist, no?

Pamela Fox

Developer Relations entails many sorts of relations – speaking, meeting with partners, posting in the public forums, and answering questions from paying customers. The people that engage in speaking and posting in forums are more public-facing than others, and thus make more sense for a page like this.

You can see our actual job breakdown here:
http://sites.google.com/site/googdevreljobs/
(Note that some of the “Advocates” may have an actual title of DPE or TPM, but for simplicity purposes, we use the term advocate for everyone on the site. The lines blur quite a bit in implementation, anyway.)

And here’s another explanation:
http://otherfancystuff.blogspot.com/2009/11/developer-relations-explained-nerdy-way.html

Oh, and per that jobs page, we are hiring.

James Harradence

MSFT & GOOG parallels are amazing. One amazing cash cow product line, followed by free products as competition killers (IE/Android) and a focus on the dev community.

Khürt

I’m glad you mentioned that. Everyone seems to forget that Google is a for profit company. All the good they do is based on improving sales, profits and the bottom line.

James Harradence

The parallels between GOOG & MSFT are astounding. One amazing cash cow product line, then focus energies on subverting alternatives through free product (IE : Android) & swaying dev community.

Dave McClure

actually for a company Google’s size, that doesn’t seem like overkill… in fact given all their products it might be a little light.

at 75, I think they’re still less than 1:100 ratio of evangelists to employees, maybe even less than 1:50 for engineers.

doesn’t seem like too much for every evangelist to be pimping the work of 50-100 others…

Ipodtouchindia

Basically the word evangelism stinks of monopoly. Money making depends on decision making. Decision making depends on monolithic options. The more monolithic, the worse the decisions. What is worse is that there is monolithism on both sides. One monopoly dealing with another. Somehow we have always been allergic to complicated decisions or even to feedback to simple decisions.

JoeTierney

It’s going to take an army. There’s a lot of work to do. Most of the world still runs on the technology of yesterday.

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