My office nameplate, freshly annotated for correctness

So Long, and Thanks for All the Bytes

Goodbye Tech, Hello Future

Chet Haase
6 min readFeb 16, 2024

--

It is with very mixed feelings that I am leaving Google (as in, leaving right now — today is my last day). Or perhaps I should say instead “leaving Android” since I have always felt very much part of the Android team and very much ignorant of the rest of the company.

Unlike many of my excellent and unfortunate colleagues in the last couple of rough years of tech layoffs, my departure is self-inflicted: I quit. It is time for me to do something else — something very very else. It’s not so much that I’m leaving Google (Android), but that I’m leaving tech for, as Monty Python would say, something completely different.

I have been at Google for (checks calendar) nearly 14 years, since joining the Android team in May of 2010. I wrote code, delivered presentations, videos and articles, and I managed people, all of which were thoroughly enjoyable teams, roles, and projects.

But this wasn’t my first job. Or my second. Or my… (you get the idea). I’ve been doing this kind of work at many, various companies since leaving graduate school in 1992. So after (checks calendar again, realizes it’s more of a calculator problem, gives up, does the math) more than 31 years, it’s time for something new. Or, rather, something old: school.

In the last few years I’ve been gradually rewinding my career. After leading/managing the Toolkit team for a few years, I moved to Developer Relations, where I managed a smaller team. I missed coding, so I rewound and came back, as an engineer on the graphics team. I then returned to the Toolkit team as an engineer, rewinding my career more. Now it’s time to rewind it all the way to where it began: I’m going back to grad school.

Last Fall, I started an MFA in comedy screenwriting in Chicago. It’s a full-time 2-year program at DePaul, with comedy classes at Second City. Full time work plus school has been working out great, except for the part where I also need sleep.

Leaving my job and career is by far the worst financial decision I ever hope to make. It turns out that tech has better pay, benefits, prospects, perks, and stability (yes, even in this rotten tech cycle we’re in). But comedy writing is something I want to do. I feel very strongly that everyone should try, to the extent that it makes some kind of sense if you squint hard enough, to do what they want in work and life. I’ve been writing and doing comedy— sometimes at the same time — for many years on the side. So I’m promoting my hobby to be my day job.

And maybe (probably) I will miss the code and will figure out ways to do that again someday. Maybe coding will become my hobby. You can take the engineer out of the bytes, but you can’t take bites out of the engineer. Or something like that. But for now, it’s nice to just soak in the comedy, and the writing, and the student life. (My lunch often consists of PB&J and a pack of instant ramen. Sometimes both, when I feel really wild and spendy). As for what the future holds, I’ll figure that out when I get there. That’s the great thing about the future; it’s always there waiting for you. In the meantime, I have writing homework to do.

You can take the engineer out of the bytes, but you can’t take bites out of the engineer.

To everyone in the Android community: thanks for being a part of my journey. I’ve had a [very] long career in software development and I’ve enjoyed all^H^H^H most of it immensely. But my time on, with, and for Android far surpassed everything else for the sheer excitement of being a part of the wild ride as Android became what it is today. When I joined Google, Android was in a solid 4th or 5th place behind, well, everyone else. By the end of that first year, the situation had changed drastically, and everything has only gotten bigger and better in the many years since.

Along the way, I got to create fundamental technology and APIs that the platform needed (hello, Animator!), work on critical and interesting projects on the platform and AndroidX (hello, graphics, UI, and performance!), and work with a great team of clever, interesting, and passionate people for many years.

My hobby project included speaking into foam balls dangling awkwardly near my mouth in front of sometimes many, many people.

Through my side project of writing and speaking about Android development,* I got to meet and be a part of a vibrant developer community for many years, including hosting a fun podcast since 2014. I hope to continue with the podcast from outside of Android. I always enjoyed my “color commentary” role, so maybe ignorance of what’s happening internally won’t be a drastic change.

All of my badges and lanyards from the many events I spoke at. I have no idea why I kept them. Maybe just for posting a picture of them when I was done. Achievement unlocked. Badge earned.

Along the way, because nobody else was doing it, I got to learn about and tell the story of how Android came into existence in the very early years. I had written many things before that book, and had even written several books before that book. But that 4+ year project of interviewing and compiling first-hand tales of how it all came together is the highlight of my writing life (so far!).

There’s nothing like a >4 year book project to learn how short life is.

For those brave souls who read this far looking for inside dirt on why I’m really leaving… I’m sorry to leave you so very unsatisfied. The company, the job, the people, and the work were great. But just in case there are any news site bots searching for possible clickbait stories, here’s a headline just for you:

“Googler Quits to Do Something Very Different!”

Good luck to all of the Android developers and users reading this. And, heck, to everyone else as well. I’m a writer now — I’m happy for any readers I can get! I hope to see you someday on the big screen. Or the little one. Or through the pages of books. Or in person would be fine, too.

Chet.

* p.s. I will miss many things about my job on Android, but one of the unique opportunities I enjoyed was giving tech and comedy talks at developer events. There is nothing like being on stage in front of a large audience and pretending to know what you’re talking about. I’m game for more of that if I can figure out logistics that make sense in my new student/writing life. Let me know if you think you have an opportunity (conference talks, podcasts — anything with a mic) that might work.

My original badge photo taken on my first day in 2010. The security guard assumed I wanted a retake.
Do not ask for whom he smirks. He smirks for me.

--

--

Chet Haase

Android and comedy. Not necessarily in that order.