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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

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November 7, 2007 1:03 PM

Selberg scoops: Microsoft, UW departures to Google

Posted by Brier Dudley

I need to pay more attention to the blog of Erik Selberg, who left Microsoft's search team in September to join Amazon.com.

On Tuesday, Selberg wrote about how a friend on Microsoft's search team was escorted out of the building after deciding to join Google's Kirkland office. That led him to question why he received better treatment:

Other colleagues I knew from Microsoft that went to Google were shown the same treatment. So why was I shown the love and not my friend? Well, as near as I can tell, Microsoft doesn't want someone who has decided to leave for Google around so that other employees can ask all the obvious questions and think about going to Google themselves. Google is clearly the competition, and while it's OK to leave Microsoft and do something random (like work for Amazon), leaving to compete with Microsoft is an unforgivable offense, apparently up there with violating company policies.

Last Friday, he shared a chat he had with Yahoo's international search boss about why the company opted to locate in Bellevue rather than Seattle, and how the local team with work with Yahoo's mothership:

Microsoft isn't moving anytime soon, and Google opened up an office in Kirkland, also on the east side. So why not offer something different, like a nicer commute or better digs? He didn't know.

The second question also got a non-answer. He wasn't sure who else was going to be up in Seattle, so apart from having an office with a bunch of Yahoo! engineers, it wasn't clear that there'd be any synergy with the other teams. Seems... well, broken to me. Hey Yahoo!, is this really what's happening?

Selberg's Friday post also reported that Craig Chambers left the UW computer science department to lead Google's infrastructure engineering team in Fremont.

Chambers spent a sabbatical with Google last year and has been working there since the end of the summer, according to Ed Lazowska.

Two weeks ago Chambers was joined by Brian Bershad, another CSE professor, further boosting the search company's UW connections.

Is this some sort of payback from Larry and Sergey, who hatched Google while studying at the Gates Computer Science Building at Stanford?

Until mid-year, Bershad was also chief executive of Illumita, a virtualization company founded by a group of UW profs.

Selberg -- also a UW alum -- noted that Amazon is another option for big-company software jobs in Seattle, and it's "located in the heart of the I-District with much better locale and food!"

I'm looking forward to reading what he'll say about South Lake Union.

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