Google’s former HR chief Laszlo Bock and another high-profile ex-Googler launch startup Humu ‘to make work better everywhere’

There’s something fishy about Laszlo Bock’s new startup.

Not that there’s anything improper about the enterprise. It’s just that it’s named after a fish.

Fortunately, Bock and his colleagues at their just-launched human resources company see the virtues of abbreviation.

The fish in question, whose image graces the home page of the startup, is called “humuhumunukunukuapuaa” in Hawaiian.

It might be a bit tough to make a splash with such an unwieldy moniker, so Bock and his team, being bright folks, have cut it down considerably.

The startup is called Humu, Bock revealed May 1 on LinkedIn.

“Congrats!” a Google operations manager said in a comment appended to Bock’s post. “Was taken?”

What, exactly, Humu will do remains a mystery.

For months, in fact, mystery has surrounded this new project from Bock, Google’s legendary former head of HR, credited as the architect of Googliness, Googlishness or whatever defines the tech giant’s workplace culture.

Bock announced in December he was leaving Google, saying in an email to friends and associates that he was working on a startup that would be in “stealth mode” for a while.

“It hinges on a few ideas: that every job can have meaning, that if you give people freedom they will amaze you, that applied science (which I dubbed ‘people analytics’ a decade back) can illuminate the truth about what really makes people happy and productive, and that it doesn’t take a ton of effort or investment to make things better … but that you can make work better, everywhere,” Bock said in the email.

The HR wizard, responsible for innovations at Google including data-driven hiring and free-food cafeterias, popped his head up out of stealth mode briefly in February to attack President Donald Trump’s ill-fated ban on visitors from seven mostly Muslim countries.

The former refugee from Communist Romania then chose International Workers Day to announce on LinkedIn that he and Wayne Crosby, who just jumped ship as director of engineering at Google after nearly 10 years with the company, were launching a new firm.

“If we’re devoting most of our lives to work, that experience should be meaningful, impactful, productive,” Bock said on LinkedIn.

“We should be constantly learning and growing, and surrounded by people who are doing the same. We all have good days and bad days, but what would work be like if every day were like our best days? Imagine what we could achieve.

“That’s why Wayne Crosby and I have started humu. Our mission is to make work better everywhere through science, machine learning, and a little bit of love.”

That mission statement, plus a photo of the reef triggerfish with the exceptionally long name, are all that grace Humu’s home page, and there are no links to other pages.

It does appear that the enterprise focuses on HR, given Bock’s somewhat cryptic descriptions, and because its website is “”

Perhaps in keeping with some revolutionary new HR practice, Bock in his LinkedIn post invited job applications to two email addresses, without providing any job descriptions.

However, in a comment below his LinkedIn post he promised that job links would be up on the company’s website soon.


Photo: The humuhumunukunukuapuaa or reef triggerfish, whose name is abbreviated to Humu for the name of former Google HR boss Laszlo Bock’s new startup (Wikimedia Commons/Bernard Spragg)


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