Google shuts down Photovine a week after launching it

Posted In Apps, iPhone, Mobile Web - By Ryan On Friday, August 26th, 2011 With 0 Comments

Google has stunned the tech community at large by announcing that they’ll be shuttering Slide.com and all associated apps (including the only-just-released photo sharing app Photovine) over the next couple of months. Slide was the social apps company purchased by Google in August last year for $182 million.

Slide.com was started by Max Levchin, who was one of the original Paypal founders, and he has announced he’ll be leaving Google altogether. Most of the remaining Slide team (around 100 employees) will be absorbed into other Google projects like YouTube. A spokesperson for Google said, “Max has decided to leave Slide and Google to pursue other opportunities and we wish him the best”. Which in corporate speak means that something went down that no one wants to talk about publicly.

Slide was most famous for creating widgets that could be added to Myspace profiles, their SuperPoke products like SuperPoke Pets, the group messaging Disco app, and most recently the Photovine app – which was only launched last week.

In its heyday back in 2008, Slide was valued at $500 million. So Google was obviously over the moon with their acquisition of the startup last year, when they announced the buyout and said, “We’re thrilled to welcome Max and his very talented team to Google and we can’t wait to work together to give people more and better tools to communicate and connect.”

Times have obviously changed, and the writing has been on the wall for some time according to Google insiders. Levchin and the Slide team weren’t included in the Google+ planning – a strange move when they were acquired precisely for their ability to succeed in the social space when Google had not. And it’s not like Google could’ve forgotten about them by mistake because Levchin reported directly to Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

But the moment when Slide turned into a house of cards can probably be linked to Larry Page recently taking over from Eric Schmidt as Google’s CEO. He was quick to restructure and consolidate the company into seven business units in April this year. Again, Slide got the cold shoulder by not being integrated into the newly-established social unit, and continued to operate independently within Google.

So the fact that Levchin is leaving is hardly a surprise. But this doesn’t explain why Google would sunset a bunch of apps that may not be the most popular in the world, but certainly aren’t dogs by anyone’s imagination. And why close Photovine a week after launching the app if everything’s ended on a high with Levchin and employees are being reassigned? Something is very, very wrong in this picture.

About - With at least 20 phones tucked away in drawers around the house and office, Ryan is a buy-to-try mobile consumer and loves playing with new handsets. Right now he's stuck on the iPhone 4.

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