Fast Company

"Google Me" Social Network Rumors Fueled: It's Real, Heavily Staffed

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Those rumors about Google's Facebook-rivaling social network just got a whole lot more interesting. A former Facebook exec has been quizzing contacts inside Google and discovered that it's all real, with large numbers of Google staff busy on task.

The leak comes from Adam D'Angelo, cofounder of Quora (a cloud-sourced community question-answer forum), and it's interesting as he was formerly chief technology officer at Facebook. Given the size and complexity of Facebook's operations, this was no small job, and probably places D'Angelo on the contacts directory of a significant number of colleagues in competing high-tech businesses. In other words, when D'Angelo says he spoke to "reliable sources," we're inclined to believe him.

Digg's founder Kevin Rose was responsible for the first part of the rumor, and it piqued D'Angelo's interest enough that he did some of his own digging--turning up some data from his inside sources. He learned that it's "not a rumor" and there are a "large number" of folks inside Google working on it, and this news is convincing enough that he's "completely confident" about its veracity. Unlike other projects inside Google, "this is a high priority" one.

While interesting, these points don't necessarily teach us anything new about the project. But D'Angelo also learned that Google really feels it dropped the ball on the whole social networking phenomenon, particularly where it concerns Facebook. "They had assumed Facebook's growth would slow as it grew, and that Facebook wouldn't be able to have too much leverage over them, but then it just didn't stop, and now they are really scared" is the most telling phrase, because it implies naivety about several aspects of the world inside Google's management. Firstly, by the very nature of social networking it's a phenomenon that tends to grow virally--the more people on Facebook, the more people get attracted to Facebook since more of their friends are already there: For Google's team to not understand this is surprising (and possibly explains the weak success of Google Buzz). There's also a hint in here that Google's management doesn't have a good grip on how people are interacting socially on the Web, and that they underestimated how people liked the friendly interactivity offered by Facebook--another indication why Buzz, with its slightly obfuscating interface, isn't as much of a success as it could be.

Essentially, it seems that Google's management had assumed that Google Buzz would leverage off Google's enormous reach online, and its brand name, and easily compete with Facebook. This proved such a disastrously bad move that the new Google social net will actually be modeled "off Facebook." While we don't know exactly what this means, we can guess that Google may be intending to emulate Facebook's interface more than the way the site's social interaction tricks work, since Buzz was actually an attempt to do this.

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  • Lance Bliss

    The problem with GBuzz is that Google hired "programmers" to do a social networking site. Google should have listened to me when I sent Google Ventures emails about my social networking idea a long time ago. And the proposals for my social networking idea; I sent to 21 main corporate people at Google; they ignored me; they should have hired me. They should have also listened to me, because GBuzz is ummm... no comparison to Facebook. And it needs so much help that it I really wished they had listened too me.
    My idea consists of 10 key ideas.
    Give people what they want. Help people and businesses become more GREEN. (Save Money).
    Help people become more FINANCIALLY STABLE. (Save Money). Help people learn and become a more productive part of society. (EDUCATION) Give them options. (Give them more of what they want).
    Help people or have others help them. (GIVE and you will RECEIVE). Get people more involved in the voting process and government issues. (Just the FACTS, keep people informed).
    Connect people in new ways. (Meet new people). Focused locally but go globally.
    My site is not up yet, but soon. My blog is up and 7's will be coming soon. Maybe Google will finally hire me. Or maybe they will buy my "Real Social Networking Site"

  • david wayne osedach

    I like GOOGLE Buzz but it's a lot different than Facebook. If they come out with a new social networkig site I want to be on it!