The Noisy Channel


Going (to) Google

November 6th, 2009 · 65 Comments · Uncategorized


This is my last week at Endeca. The decision to leave has been a heart-wrenching one: not only have the past ten years been the best of my life, but my experiences at Endeca have defined me professionally. Moreover, Endeca is riding a wave of success with recent advances in our products, new relationships with key partners, and fascinating new deployments.  (You can read Endeca’s latest announcements in our newsroom).

Ironically, it is this very success that compels me to move on. In the past several years, I have developed an increasing passion for search on the open web–an interest only furthered by the explosion of social media.

That is why I’ve decided to accept an opportunity at Google’s New York office. Readers here know that I’ve been a very public critic of Google’s simplistic approach to user interaction on the open web. I’m being offered an opportunity to help fix that approach–and it is an offer I can’t refuse. My mission is to apply my passion for human-computer information retrieval (HCIR), an approach that Endeca has pioneered in the enterprise, to the world’s largest information problems–and where better to do that than at the company that aspires to organize the world’s information.

This moment is bittersweet: I am excited about the new experiences that await me, but I have a heavy heart as I turn in my badge and part with a world-class team that has succeeded against incredible odds.

Given my role and tenure at Endeca, I want to say explicitly that this move is about my personal ambition. My passion for web search and social media, which have grown exponentially over the past couple of years, simply doesn’t align with Endeca’s focus in the enterprise.

Also, I want to make clear: Google hired me because of my values, and not in spite of them. I know that some folks will find it difficult to reconcile my criticisms of Google with my decision to join. That’s why there’s an opt-out village! Seriously, though, I take my values with me. Google is offering me the opportunity to channel my passion for HCIR into action, on the world’s largest stage. I’m well aware of the magnitude of the challenge, but hey, I’m feeling lucky.

65 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Josh Young // Nov 6, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    I’d like to offer my congratulations. This is an amazing opportunity, and I’m sure you would go to google only on the condition that they’re actually expecting great work from you.

  • 2 Leigh M // Nov 6, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    CONGRATULATIONS! Exciting times. And I look forward to your book – and your fixing the Internet. Leigh (@csmlibrary)

  • 3 Daniel Lemire // Nov 6, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Good. Now whenever I’m annoyed at Google, I’ll know where to voice my complaints!


  • 4 Daniel Tunkelang // Nov 6, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Thanks guys! I am excited, and I now can only hope I managed to live up to those expectation! Daniel L., it will be a while before I’m on a first-name basis with all of the pigeons, but I’ll help you where I can.

  • 5 Gene Golovchinsky // Nov 6, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    Congrats! What will your responsibilities be?

  • 6 Steven Hodson // Nov 6, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Congrats Daniel. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of an opportunity like this.

    (psstt .. always available for interesting news from inside the great beast of search – anon always respected 🙂 )

  • 7 Evan Sandhaus // Nov 6, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    I bet you’re feeling lucky. Sounds like a great opportunity for you and a big coup for the big G. I’m looking forward to all the great stuff that will doubtless result from the coming together of the Tunkelang and the Google.



  • 8 Daniel Tunkelang // Nov 6, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    Gene, still figuring that out. I’ll ramp up by working as an individual contributor on a project that offers an HCIR angle while helping me get up to speed on how things work at Google (both technically and organizationally). I have all sorts of aspirations beyond that, but my first priority is to establish concrete proof points for HCIR on a web scale. I know that won’t be easy, but it’s what I’ve signed up for.

    And Steve, thanks for the offer, but I want my news to make it onto the front page of Techmeme! Barring that, I can always put it on the front page of The Noisy Channel. I know an insider there. 🙂

  • 9 Apologies for Slow Response Times | The Noisy Channel // Nov 6, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    […] RSS   ← Going (to) Google […]

  • 10 Pavel Serdyukov // Nov 6, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Congratulations!! Great chance to participate and influence their Social Search experiment!

  • 11 ellen keri goldberg // Nov 6, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    It’s always sad to leave a place you’ve been at for a long time. I’m looking forward to seeing your influence in Google. Congrats!

  • 12 Mark Watkins // Nov 6, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Daniel – Congrats and good luck in your next adventure! As another ex-Endecan, just wanted to say thanks for all you did for the company – it wouldn’t be what it is without you.

  • 13 Krista // Nov 6, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Congrats to you and enjoy the new challenge!

  • 14 Pirun // Nov 6, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    Good luck and many new things!

  • 15 Drew Volpe // Nov 6, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    I’ll echo what Mark said and add it was great to have worked with you. Congratulations on the new gig. I’ll be interested in your take on Google a year from now! Good luck.

  • 16 Jon // Nov 6, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Congratulations again, Daniel. As you know, I’ve been loving my time thus far at Google. I’m sure it’ll treat you well. Hope you can make it out to the Pittsburgh office sometime soon-ish.

  • 17 jeremy // Nov 6, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    I heartily add my congrats to the long list above, and especially wish you success in your new mission: To human-organize the world’s information!

  • 18 Gene Golovchinsky // Nov 6, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    “human-organize” is typically shortened to “humanize”

  • 19 aaswath // Nov 6, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Exciting stuff Daniel! Look forward to seeing your ideas on hcir web search out there.

  • 20 Larry Hawes // Nov 6, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    Daniel: Wow! Such amazing news! Wishing you all the best in your new role at Google. You are fortunate to address a problem that you have criticized. Not many get that chance. I’m sure you’ll make the most of it!

  • 21 Sérgio Nunes // Nov 6, 2009 at 9:46 pm


  • 22 jeremy // Nov 6, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    I have all sorts of aspirations beyond that, but my first priority is to establish concrete proof points for HCIR on a web scale. I know that won’t be easy, but it’s what I’ve signed up for.

    By the way, if it’s at all possible, those efforts are really something that you should blog about. Naturally you won’t be able to say how you do the things you do. But if you can talk about what you’ve done to show the value of HCIR at web scale, that would be of keenest interest to your audience here 🙂

    Part of the challenge I think you face is convincing the Google quants that their metric is wrong. Currently, the metric is “that which gets the user off the site and on to the rest of the web quickly is better“. If that’s the metric that you’ll be judged by, then you will fail — through no fault of your own but because you’re essentially solving a different task.

    Because what HCIR does (as if I have to lecture you) is slow the search process down slightly in order to get orders better results in the end. The metric itself has to be right, has to be able to see value in “slower”, lingering users. Even before you’ve done a single experiment, you’ll have to convince people that lightning fast and lucky isn’t always as good as deliberatively slower, and better.

    You’re McDonald’s analogy, as you’ve argued in the past, is apt. We already know that slow food is healthier. But health isn’t the metric. Speed is. (See 3. Fast is better than slow: “We may be the only people in the world who can say our goal is to have people leave our homepage as quickly as possible.”)

    You’ll just have to convince ’em to change their metric.

    Good luck with that! And I really want to hear what you’ve done in order to succeed at that 🙂

  • 23 Stavros Macrakis // Nov 6, 2009 at 10:41 pm


    Congratulations! I look for more great things to come out of Google with you on board.


  • 24 Patrick M. Lozeau (pmlozeau) 's status on Saturday, 07-Nov-09 02:49:43 UTC - // Nov 6, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    […] a few seconds ago from web […]

  • 25 Bob Gourley // Nov 6, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    Congrats Friend! This is great news for all of us who care about access to and discovery of information.

    Stay in touch and please keep writing!

  • 26 Mike Matczynski // Nov 6, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Best of luck at Google, and enjoy the shorter commute!

  • 27 Jason Adams // Nov 6, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Congrats! Google should certainly be better for it. 🙂

  • 28 dave fauth // Nov 6, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    Congrats. Looking forward to seeing your work at Google.

  • 29 Brad Terrell // Nov 6, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    Congratulations! Time to invest in GOOG!

  • 30 Greg Linden // Nov 7, 2009 at 12:45 am

    Hey, congratulations, Daniel! That’s great news! Enjoy!

  • 31 Christopher // Nov 7, 2009 at 2:08 am

    Wow, that’s huge, congradulations. 🙂

  • 32 Max L. Wilson // Nov 7, 2009 at 4:06 am

    Google’s best decision/acquisition yet. This is for the win. I believe that’s how people say it these days :p I look forward to seeing Google explore their HCIR decisions further – beyond the wonder wheel.

  • 33 jeremy // Nov 7, 2009 at 4:31 am

    If that’s the metric that you’ll be judged by, then you will fail — through no fault of your own but because you’re essentially solving a different task.

    Ack, I reread what I wrote above, and I think it came across as unintentionally insufferable. Let me try and rephrase:

    but my first priority is to establish concrete proof points for HCIR on a web scale.

    What I mean to say was that as you work to establish your proof points, it isn’t just a matter of getting the right raw numbers. You have to change hearts and minds about how those numbers should be interpreted, i.e. which numbers matter and which do not. Those value judgments are not intrinsic to the numbers.

    Right now, the value judgments of speed and non-engagement/non-interactivity (getting the user off the page) appear to be that filter through which all the numbers are filtered. No matter what data points you show, none will be capable of proving your point until alter that filter.

    So you naturally will not be able to talk about the numbers. But if you can, I would be interested in hearing about how you succeed in changing the hearts and minds. If that particular blog conversation is one that you can continue, if that transparency will be possible, I’d love to be a part of that conversation!

    And again, congratulations!

  • 34 Iadh Ounis // Nov 7, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Congratulations Daniel! All the best with your new endeavours at Google. Social media and social search open up exciting new directions and opportunities.

  • 35 Daniel Tunkelang // Nov 7, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Folks, I’m overwhelmed–it means a lot to have all of your support. And Jeremy, I do appreciate your concerns. I’ll continue to be as transparent as I can. I recognize that will be a challenge–I’ll have to be careful not only about disclosure, but also about how my personal rants reflect on one of the world’s most recognized brands. So I urge everyone to have some patience with me–but not too much. I will really appreciate you all keeping me honest.

  • 36 Omar // Nov 7, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Congratulations! All the best in your new job.

  • 37 jeremy // Nov 7, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    I have every confidence that you’ll meet this challenge with alacrity. I’m just saying that I really want to hear what you get to do! 🙂

  • 38 Weiwei // Nov 7, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Congratulations and best wishes!

    Be careful with the free food there, keep fit 🙂

  • 39 Raza // Nov 7, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Congrats Daniel and best of luck for your future endeavors at google. My first reaction after reading the post was “What took them (Google) so long?” I just hope you continue blogging about IR and HCIR specifically, which will make noisy community a well-informed and a better place 🙂

  • 40 Jim Baum // Nov 7, 2009 at 11:31 pm


    I may be a bit late to the congratulatory party here but I definitely want to join in. I’m thrilled for you and looking forward to benefitting from your contributions on the “big stage”. This is a big win for you as well as Google. Great start to the next chapter.

  • 41 Daniel Tunkelang // Nov 8, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Jim, Mark, Drew: thanks for the warm welcome into the Endeca alumni community. The best thing about my decade at Endeca, even more than all of the successes I’ve been a part of, is the network of incredible people I’ve developed during those years. I’m looking forward to maintaining that network, even knowing that I will surely repeat the experience at Google.

  • 42 Rob Gonzalez // Nov 8, 2009 at 10:33 am

    We’re going to miss you at Endeca! Google may think they’re just getting your HCIR brain, but they’re also getting a great deal of passion and joy in the bargain. Best of luck making the web a more usable place for all of us!

  • 43 Daniel Tunkelang // Nov 8, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Rob, I’m going to miss you guys too. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Endeca has defined my professionally–and my personal relationships only make the parting more poignant. Hopefully those personal relationships will survive my change of badge.

    Also, being an evangelist for HCIR has been easy at Endeca, since HCIR is core to Endeca’s mission. I expect to face greater challenges doing so at Google. But those are the very challenges I’m looking forward to.

  • 44 Zubair Talib // Nov 8, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Congrats Daniel.

    Best wishes and we look forward to you continuing to be a strong advocated for HCIR and exploratory search and information discovery.

  • 45 MarkH // Nov 9, 2009 at 6:11 am

    Congrats, Daniel.
    I was initally surprised by the news but it does make sense. Ranting about Google’s UI design is now a paid gig rather than just a hobby 🙂
    I wish you luck translating your ideas onto the big stage.

  • 46 raj // Nov 9, 2009 at 11:25 am

    time to buy GOOG 🙂

    congrats! and i will be looking forward to your work at Google. Please keep us posted!

  • 47 Ranjit Mathoda // Nov 9, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Congratulations Daniel!

    Best move GOOG has made in years…

  • 48 Jennifer Novosad // Nov 9, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Congratulations! Best of luck on your quest to fix the internet!

  • 49 NealRichter // Nov 9, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Fantastic news. Congrats Daniel.

  • 50 Rebecca Thompson // Nov 9, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    Congrats, Daniel on the new position.

  • 51 Jonathan Shewchuk // Nov 10, 2009 at 2:34 am

    Sweet! It really sounds perfectly right for you.

    Will there be any business trips to the Bay Area?

  • 52 Adam Bossy // Nov 10, 2009 at 5:42 am

    Wow! I thought my eyes were deceiving me when I saw this post linked from your LinkedIn status. Congratulations!

  • 53 Daniel Tunkelang // Nov 10, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Thanks all. And yes, definitely planning to visit the mother ship one of these days. Will let you left coasters know when I’m in town.

  • 54 Ravi Bhavnani // Nov 10, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Congratulations, Daniel!

  • 55 Steve Gurney // Nov 10, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Hi Daniel

    Just saw the pending move via Linkedin update. Congratulations. Must have been a huge decision!!

    Personally, in addition to web search, one area I would like to see HCIR make an impact is the future merge between web search and personal communication. As google Wave develops, HCIR could provide a good integration between Wave and web search for discovery/research. The ability to instantly feed that information to all particpants of a wave for open discussion/collaboration would be very beneficial.



  • 56 jeremy // Nov 10, 2009 at 12:46 pm


    Personally, in addition to web search, one area I would like to see HCIR make an impact is the future merge between web search and personal communication. As google Wave develops, HCIR could provide a good integration between Wave and web search for discovery/research.

    Have you seen our upcoming workshop announcement? I would invite you to submit a paper and/or attend and take part!

    See also our previous workshop:

  • 57 Rick Umali // Nov 13, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Daniel, you will be missed at Endeca! But as a frequent (and somewhat grudging) user of many Google products, I’m excited at what you will bring to their table. Peace, and well wishes.

  • 58 sri krishnamurthy // Nov 13, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Congrats Daniel! Good luck with your new venture!

  • 59 Stefano Mizzaro // Nov 13, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    HEY, Great news!!! Congrats!!! And tons of good luck!

  • 60 Peter Kim // Nov 13, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Hey, you left your Nespresso machine! Didn’t get a chance to say goodbye in person but I wish you the best at Google.

    Seriously, if you want the Nespresso back, let me know. 🙂

  • 61 Daniel Tunkelang // Nov 13, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Peter, you guys get full custody of the Nespresso machine. I’m not even sure I get visitation rights! 🙂

    And thanks again to all for the well wishes. My first week has been humbling–so much to learn that I’m still learning how much there is to learn!

  • 62 Hal // Nov 24, 2009 at 10:54 am


    Best of luck to you on this new challenge. I’m sure you’ll be successful as always! And thank you for all of your help and insightful conversation through the years.


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