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Google's Tim Bray steps down in the name of working remotely

Does Bray leaving Google suggest a new twist in the working-from-home ethos of Silicon Valley?

Tim Bray
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

Web guru and Android enthusiast Tim Bray has announced he's leaving Google. Why? Because he wants to work from home.

"It's an amicable separation in the face of irreconcilable differences: I wouldn't move to California and Google wouldn't open a Vancouver office," Bray wrote in a blog post. "Both before and after being hired, I had been asked to consider moving south. I didn't want to and politely declined. Eventually, the group I'm in politely informed me that staying remote wasn't an option."

Not one to mince words, Bray said that his heart is in Vancouver and he finds the Bay Area "congested, racist, incestuous, and overpriced. So I was never really tempted."

While Bray decided to stay in Canada, he didn't criticize Google for its ultimatum. He wrote that he "would have been more effective in my job if I'd moved, and probably would have enjoyed the work more."

Silicon Valley tech companies are known for being lenient with employees who prefer to work remotely. Some companies -- like Automattic, which owns WordPress -- don't even have centralized offices and instead schedule weekly, monthly, or yearly meet-ups with workers.

However, company backlash against tech world telecommuters has begun to occur. Last February, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced no more working from home for the Web giant's employees. She emphasized that communication and collaboration are best when employees are "working side-by-side." Since Mayer's announcement, other companies have leaped on board with these same viewpoints.

As for Bray, he will stay with Google through March 17 and go to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week. His plans for the future appear to be up in the air. "I haven't decided what to do next," he wrote.