Gadget Lab Podcast: Former Googler Jessica Powell On How to Quit Your Tech Job


Jessica Powell was the top communications executive at Google when she found herself Googling, in no uncertain search terms, how to quit her job at Google. She tried approximately 837 different tactics before she ended up taking the leap, and now she’s a startup founder, a contributor to Medium and The New York Times, and the author of The Big Disruption, a novel about a giant Silicon Valley tech company.

The eventual burnout and dissatisfaction Powell experienced is not unique in Silicon Valley, she tells us on this week’s Gadget Lab podcast. But it can be difficult to acknowledge when you’re working in an industry filled with mission-driven companies and leaders who want to “change the world” (and in some cases–––they do). Powell also talks about the commercialization of International Women’s Day, and speaks candidly about Facebook’s latest manifesto around privacy.

“Facebook is in such a bad place that I feel like if they cough, people say, ‘That cough is just a way to get more data!’” Powell tells the Gadget Lab hosts. “There are so many conspiracy theories, and sometimes you just have to realize a cough is just a cough. But, I also don’t think that’s the case with this announcement.”

Show notes: You can read WIRED editor-in-chief Nick Thompson’s interview with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg here, as well as a follow up story from Thompson and Issie Lapowsky. Read Klint Finley’s story about a possible return to Obama-era net neutrality rules here. For some of Powell’s recent writing, check out her Medium page.

Jessica Powell recommends putting vegetable puree into buttermilk-free biscuits to trick your kids into eating their greens. She also recommends the book The Radiance of the King, by Camara Laye. Arielle recommends this WIRED guide to TikTok, and also, TikTok. Mike recommends the Beastie Boys Book audiobook, which is narrated by an all-star cast of characters. Lauren recommends Workin’ Moms, the CBC show that’s now on Netflix.

If you have feedback for us, please, leave us a review! Or you can send the Gadget Lab hosts feedback on their personal Twitter feeds. Arielle Pardes can be found at @pardesoteric. Lauren Goode is @laurengoode. Michael Calore can be found at @snackfight.

Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. Our theme song is by Solar Keys.

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