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Max Levchin to Leave Google As Slide Is Shut Down (allthingsd.com)
148 points by jamesjyu on Aug 26, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 26 comments

"After being acquired, Slide had operated as an independent unit out of Google’s San Francisco office, maintaining existing apps like SuperPoke Pets and experimenting with new ones such as messaging app Disco and photo-sharing app Photovine, which was released only last week. The apps, none of which were extremely popular, will be sunsetted over the next few months."

If Google is going to "sunset" apps which are being judged as successful after only a couple of weeks, why bother with the bait and switch? Why don't they just tell everybody that they were acquired purely for talent, there wasn't really interest in certain developing products, and that here is your new "just as exciting and fun" project at Google? Seems like a waste of everyone's time, money, and trust to lead people along as if their idea in development actually mattered.

I think the article makes that pretty clear. They were not just acquired for the talent, but meant to run as an independent unit in Google, which they did for quite some time. But now the internal situation changed at Google.

Interesting, Google shutting down new services like photovine (just launched last week!) this fast. To me Slide seemed quite sucessfull in trying to get some startup speed back into google. Suprising move..

Seems like Google is becoming more risk averse focusing more on quarterly profits, which will make them more boring in the long run.

Larry Page has said something like "putting more wood behind fewer arrows." Which makes some sense when you see a list like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Google_products

I'm not highly educated about this. But, it seems like they are assigning a lot of deep motives to people. Maybe he just didn't want to work for a big company any longer. He is obvious very entrepreneurial and vested in the startup community.

I don't like when articles assume so much about an individual's motivation.

Seems pretty clear he's leaving because Larry Page gave up on his creations. It's pretty simple to empathize with "this thing you worked hard on is great" followed by "never mind, we're going to kill it"

This has been coming for a while. When they paid $200MM, that didn't make much sense to me.

I guess they are finally admitting it now.

Google pays 1-3M per engineer in all sorts of acqui-hires. This netted them ~100 engineers of the kind that Max can attract (i.e. top tier). It's a lot faster than acquiring 50 $2m companies that have 2 engineers each.

I think this approach makes sense only if the acquired engineers stay at Google (and are significantly more productive than the average talent Google can acquire through less expensive channels).

I suspect that many of the folks working for startups prefer being at small companies: if they wanted to work for Google they already would be.

Interesting perspective...makes sense, when you put it like that.

I loved Cringely's interview of him on Nerd TV in 2005: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8717497020389276502

This quora answer also gives some info about his approaches on entrepreneurship:


There's a good chapter about Max in Founders At Work, too.

Thanks, that is a really interesting interview. It's long but worth a watch, even with breaks.

Re: negative comments. You're assuming that the human capital, aka all the engineers, they acquired are going out the door too. Far from it.

Many folks are viewing this from the wrong angle... This is a serial entrepreneur. Guys like this rarely stay at big companies.

Take this from the point of view of a potential entrepreneur - wouldn't it be great to have a guy that's done it twice be one of your angels?

Or let's say he starts another company - wouldn't that be a great one to work for?

It's interesting how Slide and RockYou were kings of the hill in the MySpace era but then got their lunch eaten by Zynga when Facebook blew up. Goes to show, uh... something.

Goes to show that if you are sharecropping, you need keep your eyes open for the time to move to a new owner's land.

$200MM is a lot of money. It seems rather unsavory and uncool that Google bailed out Levchin and their investors.

Why are you convinced that this was a "bail out"? Why is it unsavory if Google thought that the team and its expertise was worth $200M? Google clearly was trying to get into social at the time, and this team did have a lot of interesting ideas in that space. Plus it seems that most of them are sticking around.

You seem to be attaching a lot of motivation behind the acquisition that I haven't seen elsewhere.

What were some of their 'interesting' ideas? Are you familiar with Slide's history as a start-up? Nothing but hype. Always jumping from one bandwagon (widgets and ad networks) to the next using every anti-consumer trick in the book to generate traffic. No authenticity to any of their pursuits, just a means to sell 'users' to advertisers. Talent acquisitions don't go for $200MM.

I hate to agree with you. Slide was never original at all. However they do have some social networking and gaming experience. This is just like Zynga snapping development companies.

Disco was fairly interesting app. Google even came out with a similar product in Huddles. On top of that, they had a fairly successful social app, which I suspect is exactly what Google wanted out of the acquisition (their social expertise).

But why would Google have any interest in "bailing" them out? Regardless of whether you think they were worth the money, I think it's a stretch to call it a bail out as if Google was using its corporate money to pay friends off. I suspect Google just saw a good team with some decent projects and interesting ideas, and used it to add to their social expertise.

From the submission title, did anyone else think this was about slides in the Google offices?

So, what are the chances he walked away with most of the money? From what I understand, these types of acquisitions usually require x years at the acquiring company before the buyout terms mature.

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