Frank Warmerdam Goes to Google — Google Unimpressed with our Niche Awesomeness

Late yesterday morning I saw something on Facebook that caught my eye. Frank Warmerdam posted that he was moving to California and join Google (We learn this stuff on Facebook these days apparently). He later blogged about it and it’s now all over the internets.

Today I accepted a job with Google as a GIS Data Engineer. I will be based in Mountain View California at head office, and involved in various sorts of geodata processing though I don’t really know the details of my responsibilities yet.

Mr Warmerdam Goes to Google

Mr. Warmerdam Goes to Google

Frank says he was looking for a change (I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to in the past month that are saying the same thing, clearly our niche is stale) and the awesome of Google was too much for him to turn down. You really need to read Frank’s post. Google had no idea what they were interviewing even though they are a huge user of GDAL. It looks like eventually smart people at Google came forward to attest to Frank’s history and he was hired as a non-entry level tech. Here is one of our best and brightest and Google just looked at him as a number (Wake up call people!).

Google does make use of GDAL/OGR for some internal data processing and in products like Google Earth Professional. My original hope had been that my job would at least partly be in support of GDAL and possibly other open source technologies within Google. While things are still a bit vague that does not seem to be immediately the case though I’m optimistic such opportunities might arise in the future. But I think this usage does mean that work on GDAL is a reasonable thing to spend 20% time on.

I always assumed Esri would eventually hire Frank to work on their raster conversion stuff as they already pay him, but it appears that Frank is moving on to better things. Clearly he’s not giving up on GDAL/OGR, but his focus could be elsewhere. Say’s Frank:

Writing file translators for 20 years can in some ways become a rut!

Best of luck Frank, we all appreciate your hard work every time we open any geospatial application since your hard work is in the core of everything we do. And Google? They’ve got top men working on just about anything. Wow!

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