Google engineering leader Peter Wilson leaves for OfferUp to scale fast-growing Craigslist rival
Peter Wilson had no qualms with his role at Google, heading up the tech giant’s engineering operations out of its Kirkland, Wash. campus.
But he just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to help take OfferUp to the next level.
Wilson this month took a new job as the vice president of engineering at OfferUp, the fast-growing Bellevue-based startup that connects buyers and sellers via its mobile-friendly marketplace.
Wilson told GeekWire that he wasn’t thinking about leaving Google, where he initially worked as a site director for the company’s Kirkland operations from 2005 to 2009, before returning again in 2013 to oversee an expanding campus. But after meeting with OfferUp CEO Nick Huzar, he was “blown away by the growth of company and the strength of the founders.”
“I have nothing against Google — it’s a great company, I learned a lot, and I had a great time working there,” Wilson said today. “This is just a completely unique opportunity.”
Wilson will help scale the engineering team at OfferUp, which is on pace to process more than $14 billion worth of transactions this year and just won App of the Year at last month’s GeekWire Awards. For context, eBay’s gross merchandise volume was $15 billion eight years after its launch — this growth was highlighted by Mary Meeker in her annual ‘Internet Trends’ report this week.
In November, OfferUp announced over $90 million in funding, talking publicly about its success for the first time in an interview with GeekWire.
Wilson, who previously worked at Facebook and Microsoft, said he was impressed by the growth and noted that the average OfferUp user spends 25 minutes per day on the app.
“I started using the app and found it to be a super compelling experience,” he added.
OfferUp certainly has competition, from eBay to Craigslist to a flurry of other similar startups. But Wilson, who noted that the Seattle region is the “best place to live and work,” isn’t too worried about other companies. He said some of the best advice he still uses today came from former Xbox leader J Allard.
“When I left Microsoft in 2005 to join Google, he told me to ‘keep it real, focus on the user, and don’t focus on trying to compete with Microsoft,'” explained Wilson. “I’ve taken that advice with me through each company.”
Wilson said he “basically learned how to do my job” during his seven years at Google.
“The thing I take away from Google that worked so well there is that you hire great people, empower them to do great things, and get out of the way,” he said. “That is what we did at Google, and what has already been done at OfferUp.”
When Wilson left Google for the first time in 2009, he went to create a mobile startup that was eventually acquired by Facebook before it ever launched.
This time around, the veteran tech executive said he is much more focused on a personal level while also adding that he loves OfferUp’s “single-minded focus” around building a simple experience for helping people find products.
“[When I left Google in 2009], I had a vague idea of going to a startup,” he said. “Now, I’m very focused. OfferUp has come a long way, but it has a long way to go. I want to help build a great company — that is my goal.”