Why I left Gojek

Gojek was an organization I always wanted to be part of. It’s sad when I have to leave such an organization that too in such a short period. However, keeping my career growth in mind, I had to take a decision against my emotions, and move on.

Why I left Gojek

First of all, I'd like to apologize to Gojek for writing this. I don't believe in bashing an organization after leaving. After leaving an organization, we never blog about good things, so why should we blog about the bad stuff? If you want to share something with the organization, you can do that by asking for an exit interview, sending them a mail during or after resignation, or talking to the leadership if that's possible.
Having said that, after getting bombarded on Linkedin and Twitter with questions about Gojek work culture and why I left, I had no option but to write it here.

I was pretty excited to join Gojek back in July 2021; why wouldn't I? I wanted to be at Gojek for a long time then, and after trying multiple times, I finally got an offer there. It felt like something like a life-changing event.

Fast forward to February 2022, I'm leaving Gojek; as I posted this on Twitter and Linkedin on my last day, everyone started asking what happened? Short answer: I couldn't see any growth/learning opportunities there, and financial-wise, I wasn't satisfied with the pay. Continue reading for the long answer.
I have always been pragmatic about changing organizations. I always decided to change the organizations based on the four parameters below.

  1. Am I getting to learn things / seeing Career growth
  2. How's the work environment and culture?
  3. How are the planning and processes?
  4. Am I getting paid what I feel I deserve?
    If two or more answers to the above questions are unsatisfactory, I decide to move on.

For Gojek, it excelled on points 2 and 3. I loved the work environment and culture there. The team was always helpful, supportive, and understanding. My manager there, Adarsh Chithran, was one of the best ones I ever got in my career. Adarsh even supported me on multiple occasions.
While at Gojek, my family and I went through tough times. Once right after joining in July, and again in January. I took some unplanned long leaves during those times, and my manager was fully compassionate. He handled all the delays himself, said to me multiple times that "don't worry about work, focus on getting better." and not only words, but he was also ready to help me whenever I required.
In terms of planning and process as well, in my opinion, Gojek was superior to anywhere else I worked. There was planning for a whole semester, and generally, it won't deviate much.
At this point, you're probably asking, what the heck happened? It has to do with points 1 and 4.

First, focus on point 1.
The codebase and architecture were in pretty good shape, it lacked test coverage, but later we planned on it as a team; I took the initiative and brought up the coverage to ~40% from ~12%. However, apart from that, there's nothing I did there that I'd be super proud about. So yes, I successfully delivered two high-priority projects there, along with multiple other small projects. However, those 2 "high priority" projects were pretty simple. One was a simple Content Provider which does an API call. The other was a straightforward token exchange system. Unfortunately, I can't reveal anything more for security and NDA reasons.
I was excited to join Gojek as I believed it was an opportunity for learning many things, and yes, I learned how to do prod support as I did that once, I learned how to write better documentation. However, when it came to day-to-day activities, I was opening Android Studio once a week or even less; even if I opened it every day, the work would've been done within 30 minutes. Moreover, the work I did there could've been easily done by any two years experienced devs. So now the question comes, why didn't I pick up more engineering initiatives? The answer is simple, the codebase was already in good shape; yes, it was over-engineered at some points, but solving that would take a lot of time, and considering the product team was planning to introduce a new SDK replacing the existing codebase, that huge refactor didn't make sense to me, especially since, the SDK work would probably begin before I finish solving over-engineering problems. Also, since there was a different team responsible for all platform and tooling level works, there wasn't any scope there.

Now to point 4
When I changed from Paytm Insider to Gojek, my salary (talking about in-hand CTC) increased by around 25%, a little less than industry-standard 30%, but it was okay for me as I was super excited about the learning opportunities. Also, Gojek's salary has multiple layers and higher contributions towards EPF than most of the organizations in India. So, even though my overall CTC, even the on paper in-hand, was increased, the actual salary credited bank was reduced by around ₹35K, and that's after adding all the extra allowances Gojek pays on top of salary. Yes, Gojek shared the salary breakup with the offer letter, but as I was too focused on the other things Gojek offers, I made a mistake in calculation and didn't expect the in-bank salary to get reduced. However, I'd like to note here that at Gojek, staying longer meant my retirement was all secured, keeping in mind the higher EPF and EEPF contributions and an optional NPS contribution as well.

Now, if Point 1 was sorted and I got the learning and growth opportunities I expected, I'd have stayed. Similarly, if point 4 was sorted, I probably would've stayed as well.
Another thing I'd like to mention here is that it's almost impossible to get promoted there. I want to note that I didn't stay at Gojek long enough to find this out myself but heard this from virtually every Gojek friend I got who works or worked at Gojek. Even during Gojek townhalls, different people raised this concern multiple times, and leadership didn't answer it well IMO. Similarly, on salary hikes, I heard that, lately, they'd give 5-6% hikes on average, and if the employee's performance was outstanding, they'd pay ~10% hike at most. As I heard, it wasn't like this always, but rather it was a gradual change.

Combining all these, even though the work culture, planning and processes, and codebase felt great to me, it didn't make sense for me to stay where 1. I'm not getting paid well (right now), and 2. I'm not seeing the growth and learning opportunities I expected.
But I was still deciding what to do, especially since it's hard to find an organization in India with a good work culture combined with good planning and processes and since my retirement looked sorted entirely. During that time, another organization reached out to me with more than 50% of a hike on my Gojek CTC, so I reached out to my manager and shared the same and explained the whole scenario to him.

My manager wanted me to stay and tried to get me a counteroffer. However, things went weird with the HOE. This went exactly as it's mentioned here in this tweet https://twitter.com/rivuchakraborty/status/1497234106135965707?s=20&t=GRYjnL-nqSQTPq3arh5wUA. He first tried to focus on the savings and retirement benefits Gojek was providing (as I shared above). When I said I considered them and still think the offer I have in hand is better, his reply can be simply translated as "you don't deserve an exception.", without even knowing what offer I had. That was my clue to move on.

So now you all know my reason to leave Gojek. Was it a correct decision? Was my expectations from Gojek wasn't appropriate? I don't know, I'm not yet sure myself. Guess we'll find out.
I'd like to end this blog by again stressing on how good my team's work culture is at Gojek, so if you got an offer at Gojek, and second-guessing that as I left there, don't worry, IMO Gojek is still a better organisation than most other startups in India.