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Google Says Goodbye To Its First Social Network

Before there was Google Plus, Google Buzz, or Google Wave, there was Orkut.

[Image: Flickr user JD Hancock]

Google is cleaning house again. The search giant said Monday it will shut down its 10-year-old social network Orkut on Sept. 30.

Before there was Google Plus, Google Buzz, or Google Wave, there was Orkut, which served as a place for communities to share and connect. Engineer Orkut Büyükkökten built Orkut in 2004 as part of his 20% project, an old Google policy that allowed employees to dedicate 20% of their work time to side projects. However, Orkut's growth hasn't kept up with Google's other social products.

"Over the past decade, YouTube, Blogger and Google+ have taken off, with communities springing up in every corner of the world," wrote engineering director Paulo Golgher in a blog post. "Because the growth of these communities has outpaced Orkut's growth, we've decided to bid Orkut farewell (or, tchau). We'll be focusing our energy and resources on making these other social platforms as amazing as possible for everyone who uses them."

With the World Cup underway, the timing of the announcement seems odd given Orkut's popularity in Brazil. The network, though, never caught much traction outside Brazil and India. In 2012, Orkut was finally overtaken by Facebook in unique visitors in Brazil, according to comScore.