The death of his wife's uncle in a tragic accident served as a catalyst for his decision to leave Google. A truck hit and killed the man as he was riding his bicycle in L.A. to get lunch. During the memorial service, the man's daughter told a story about how she and her dad would talk every day on the phone, but rather than start each call with "How are you," the father would say "And then?" To him, each conversation was a continuation of the last one.
"Since then I've thought a lot about how similar this is to our life's endeavors," Gundotra wrote in a Google+ post. "We pour our heart and soul into our work and it becomes something we love and cherish. But even the challenges we work on today will one day become 'and thens' as we move on to the next."
And with that, Gundotra announced his departure from Google after nearly 8 years with the company. He leaves on his own terms, free of scandal or pressure from anyone within the organization, taking with him fond memories of his time there. He gave a special shout out to Larry Page, who gave Gundotra his full support in building a social network.
"I'm also forever in debt to the Google+ team," Gundotra added. "This is a group of people who built social at Google against the skepticism of so many. The growth of active users is staggering, and speaks to the work of this team. But it doesn't tell you what kind of people they are. They are invincible dreamers. I love them. And I will miss them dearly."
Turnover in the technology industry (and any segment, really) is nothing unusual, though this is one of the more heartfelt farewell announcements we've read in a long time. There's not an ounce of insincerity in Gundotra's words, and you get the feeling he labored over his last words as a Google employee.
It's not known what the next chapter holds for Gundotra, not to anyone but him and those closest to him, anyway.
"I am excited about what's next. But this isn't the day to talk about that," Gundotra said. "This is a day to celebrate the past 8 years. To cry. And smile. And to look forward to the journey yet to come."