Google holds back from hiring some people it believes are doing good work because it's better for the Internet industry not to concentrate too much talent in one place, a company executive said.
Causes such as transparency, openness and open standards are so critical that it's important there be wise, "clueful" people throughout the industry working for those issues, said Bradley Horowitz, a vice president of product management at Google, at the Supernova conference.
"Recently I was having a discussion with an engineer at Google, and I pointed out a handful of people that I thought were clueful in the industry, and I proposed perhaps we should hire these people," Horowitz said. "He said that these people were actually important to have outside of Google... It's better for the ecosystem to have an honest industry as opposed to aggregating all this talent at Google."
The need for pressure for the right causes goes both ways, too. "I think it's important that people keep Google on our toes and that people question us," Horowitz said.
The people Google didn't hire were never actually targeted by the company or approached with job offers, Horowitz said in a brief interview after his presentation. They were people who were helping to open up other companies and support goals that Google supports, he said.
One of the causes Google backs most strongly is HTML 5, the next major standard for web development, Horowitz said. Among other things, Google believes the slowly emerging standard will help to remove the barriers to mobile application development. If it's widely adopted, developers won't have to adapt all their applications to different carriers and mobile operating systems, he said. HTML 5 is designed to better support web-based applications that will work offline. Apple is advancing toward HTML 5 with progress on the WebKit open source browser engine, and HTML 5 is a key part of Google's strategy with its Chrome OS, he said.
"The need is pressing and immediate," Horowitz said.
Meanwhile, progress toward a formal standard at the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) is slow. The standard is currently expected to enter a two year "candidate recommendation" phase by the end of 2010.
It's appropriate that developers are already working with elements of HTML 5 in advance of a formal standard, Horowitz said.
"You can't wait for next quarter's meeting before people start writing code that makes a difference in people's lives," he said.
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