After two months of basking in the accolades Google+ has received, Google’s social media strategy is again the cause of some head-scratching.
The search engine has decided to shut down Slide, a social media app and game maker that it bought about a year ago. Even more eyebrow-raising: Its founder and chief executive Max Levchin is leaving.
Levchin is pursuing other opportunities, Google said. Meanwhile, most of Slide’s staff is remaining at Google to work on other ventures. Google did not return the E-Commerce Times’ request for further comment in time for publication.
In a blog post, Slide warned its customers that a number of its products and applications will be retired, including its flagship Slideshow and SuperPoke Pets, as well as more recent products such as Photovine, Video Inbox and Pool Party.
A Sudden Decision
The decision to shutter Slide reportedly came on rather suddenly. Google reportedly paid US$200 million for Slide when it purchased the company. With Google and Slide silent on the matter, the rumor mill has gone into overdrive regarding the circumstances behind the move.
For instance, some believe that Slide’s decision to release its more recent apps first on iOS instead of Android was the reason behind the move.
Another school of thought advocates the position that Levchin was the true target for Google when it acquired Slide, as it was floundering in its own attempts to roll out a viable social media strategy. As cofounder of PayPal, Levchin has significant cred in this area.
Then, Levchin was pushed out when Google+, headed by other executives at Google, proved to be the winning formula.
The news has also given rise to speculation that Levchin didn’t fit in with the new Google as defined by recently anointed CEO Larry Page — that is, a more focused Google less inclined to experiment and incubate new projects and technologies.
Of course, there is also the possibility that Levchin is, in fact, simply leaving to pursue other opportunities.
Whatever the reasons, the developments suggest Google feels it has its social media sea legs and is now willing to bet on a single product.
“Google has decided to place all of its social media efforts behind the development of Google+,” William Weaver, a professor of Integrated Science, Business and Technology at La Salle University, told the E-Commerce Times.
“Technology and software elements from previous Google projects such as Google Buzz and Google Wave have been incorporated into Google+, and it is possible that various elements designed by Slide may find their way into Google+ as well,” he said.
Also, Slide was not built solely on Levchin’s expertise, he said.
“In addition to the code assets acquired with the purchase of Slide are the programmers experienced in the design of social applications such as FunWall, Fortune Cookie and SuperPoke, designed for use with Facebook,” he noted. “It is expected that a majority of the former Slide employees will continue as Google employees assigned to projects throughout the company.”
Barely a Blip?
In all likelihood, the shuttering of Slide won’t rock Google’s boat, according to Lawrence Knorr, a faculty member at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.
“The closing of Slide will be met with questions like “What was Slide?”, he told the E-Commerce Times.
“Google purchased Slide in order to tap the social media applications engineering expertise of its key people,” he said. “Now Google is focused on rolling out Google+.”