Google Cloud's veep of developer relations abruptly left the web giant late last week after sharing a lengthy essay on how he no longer hated "all the Jewish people."
One month ago, Egyptian-American Amr Awadallah, who joined Google in 2019, had posted on LinkedIn a 10,000-word missive, with an accompanying two-hour YouTube video, declaring: "I hated the Jewish people, all the Jewish people, and emphasis here is on the past tense.
"Yes, I was anti-Semitic, even though I am a Semite, as this term broadly refers to the peoples who speak Semitic languages, such as Arabic and Hebrew, among others."
The piece continued by describing how antisemitism was ingrained in him as a child by those around him, and even by the time he arrived in America from Egypt in 1995, in his mid-twenties to study a PhD at Stanford, he "still held deep resentment towards the Jewish people."
I was irrationally prejudiced
"I was irrationally prejudiced," the now-50-year-old Awadallah wrote. "But here in the US, I started to see the humanity of the other side. I started to see the truth. And I emerged from the Matrix of hate that my mind was submerged in for so many years."
Awadallah, who described himself as "a proud Muslim with a touch of healthy agnosticism," said he was "cautious" of his PhD research advisor Mendel Rosenblum, who later co-founded VMware with Diane Greene. She went on to be the boss of Google Cloud from 2015 to 2019. Both Rosenblum and Greene, now married, invested in Awadallah's startup Cloudera, which made him a pretty penny by going private four years after going public. Awadallah described Rosenblum as his "first 'Jewish angel,' he solidified the elimination of prejudice from my heart."
The post continued with Awadallah rattling off the Jewish people he came to admire, from John von Neumann and Albert Einstein to Adam Sandler, and how he realized he was wrong to harbor so much hate. The cloud industry veteran also threw in some views on Palestine and Israel for good measure, plus rules on owning dogs, some DNA test results, and quite a bit more.
Crucially, there was an all-hands meeting last week, led by Awadallah, in which Googlers brought up the essay; it was a conference call described as "beyond car-crash television" by one person familiar with what was discussed, as the veep fought to defend his point of view. Before the week was out, Awadallah had exited the business, as first reported by CNBC.
"I wanted to share that today is Amr Awadallah's last day at Google," Google Cloud veep of product Eyal Manor wrote in an internal email on Thursday. "Effective immediately, the Cloud DevRel organization will report into Ben Jackson, who will report into Pali Bhat."
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One concern among some Googlers was that the protracted piece about how he carried so much hate for at least half his life might be a red flag to those who want to work with or within the mega-corporation. There was also tension over Awadallah's leadership style, complaints of which were brought to the fore by the manifesto.
Daniel Golding, a Google director of network infrastructure, told Awadallah on LinkedIn: "On the one hand, I'm grateful that you no longer hate my children. On the other, this has made my job as one of your colleagues much harder."
"The previous situation has made being a Jewish leader at Google tough," he added without suggesting what that situation was. "This has made it almost untenable."
In a tweet regarding his swift ejection from the cloud goliath, Awadallah said he was "speechless," adding: "I am still in complete shock. I admire every single person I worked with at Google and truly believed in their mission."
In an email to The Register, the executive told us: "I am still demoralized and in shock by what just happened. Please give me a few days to get over the shock."
No one was available at Google to comment. ®