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Farewell to Google: the Story behind Google's Social Dreams

via:博客园     time:2018/10/18 18:10:27     readed:475


Wen / Wang Zhaoyang

Google thought he was just abandoning a social product, but he didn't think it was the secret garden of another group of people.

In October 8th, Google announced a message:

It will officially shut down its social product, Google, to ordinary users in 10 months, turning it into an enterprise app.


(Google announced it would close Google's toc business.)

Since Google has long been out of the public eye in recent years, the news has not stirred up much water. But it has always had one of its most loyal users.

For them, it became a very painful farewell.

A name called

Another programmer user from China told Silicon Star that he has joined a number of technology development groups on Google.

He began to pack up and store his footprints from the past seven years, lonely and lonely.

Google's decision not only broke the hearts of loyal users, but also officially declared the failure of an important product that the company was trying to build, and more completely abandoned its social dream of competing with Facebook.

We interviewed a number of Google users and Googler, who helped build the product, trying to restore the story behind a social product that failed to deliver on its promises.


Time goes back to July 29, 2011.

On that day, a party was held in front of Google's headquarters in Silicon Valley Mountain View, an office building less than 500 meters from the landmark Android sculpture. The organizer brought up a large wave swimming pool for Google employees to surf.

The party was actually a victory party, celebrating the launch of Google, a blockbuster product with high hopes.

Googler, excited to jump into the pool, was surprised to find Larry, the company's founder, who rarely showed up.

Page was particularly happy that day. He had just returned to GoogleCEO on April 4 of that year, and Google was in part a return gift to him


(“wet body”'s Larry Page)

However, engineer F (pseudonym) and his team did not come to the square for the party, but sat around the office, staring closely at the backstage data

Fortunately, the happy news was on the screen in real time: in the background of Google, they saw a rapid increase in data from all the statistical tables.

Instead of Page or Brin, the real hero of the celebration was Vic, vice president of engineering for Google social products and a veteran of Indian Silicon Valley.

He did not go into the water, but he shared a few donuts with the team as a celebration.


(GoogleI/O, 2011)

Gondotra left Microsoft in 2007 and joined Google 16 years later, playing a key role in the rise of Android and driving the creation of Google's annual conference I/O.

In the description of many Google employees at that time, Gorgan was a charismatic leader. And his idol is Jobs, who has strong personal style.

The key contribution of Google from the traditional Internet to the mobile Internet has allowed Gondola to enter Page's

In a Mashable report from 2015, a former Google executive described Gondola as Page

The idea of starting Google came from him.

For Google, social networking has been a heartbreak, and almost all attempts at it were unsuccessful: as early as 2004, Orkut, Reader, Wave, Buzz, the Gmail platform, failed to impress users and were silent for a short time. And finally quietly shut down.

Meanwhile, in 2010, Facebook was booming, with 500 million users worldwide and replacing Google as the coolest company in Silicon Valley, with many employees jumping jobs to join the six-year-old startup.

This is Gondola's idea. The Mashable report quoted a former Google executive as saying that Gondola put the idea in Page's head and Google was born.

In August 2010, Google set up a special



New functions, new functions, new functions

When Google was officially launched, Google said it would rely on the product

So, under the leadership of Gondola, Google began to try to do a better job in his own way.

According to F, at the beginning of the Google project, several research and development teams were set up for specific functions, including photo editing (Photo) and video chat feature (Hangout).

Unlike other social products, these teams have a strong engineer culture. This makes Google, which has just appeared before the public, look cooler and totally different from traditional social networking sites such as Facebook.

Some of its new functions and new features are refreshing.

For example, the Circle function allows you to choose which specific groups you want to share. This function was gradually replaced by the 2012 online community, where people could join thematic groups and speak and discuss.


(schematic of Google's original Circle functionality)

In addition, Google continues to add a lot to social products

For example, group video chat can be implemented in the ring chat (Hangout), provide powerful image editing photos (Photo) functions.

At one point, engineers across the team competed with each other to see who could develop the most new features in the shortest possible time, according to people familiar with Google's operations at the time. This presents some problems, as no one seems to be paying much attention to the actual meaning of these new features and the real user experience.

For example, at that time, the engineers of the ring chat team designed a


When they excitedly announced this function to users, many users wrote below:

In addition, many of the new features that are frequently updated online are obviously too complicated to operate, making the already dazzling Google look more flashy.

For example, two months after the official launch, the ring chat team launched a feature for hearing impaired users

It sounds heartwarming, but it's complicated to operate: first you need everyone to mute themselves, then the sign language translator presses a combination key. If you need to switch to someone else for sign language translation, you need to repeat the same work, and you have to wait a few seconds for each operation.

F recalls that the technical director in charge of the chat was proud of the feature, but he was more puzzled at the time. He did not know what the specific scene was, it was more like an engineer's show.


(initial version of the Google user interface)


Cliff fall

The halo effect of Google is very powerful.

At the beginning of the launch, thanks to the large number of users that Google itself accumulated, the number of registered users for Google rose rapidly: three months after the launch, the number of registered users had reached 40 million.

But at the same time, a growing number of people are finding that Google users stay too long to compare with other social platforms. ComScore, a data research firm, reported that Google's average user stay for the month was just three minutes, compared with Facebook's 7 and a half hours.

In the same year, an article in the New York Times called Google

This title has been accompanied by Google ever since.

To change the situation, Google has tried to use what it already has fo

From November, 2011, YouTube and other Google applications need to use Google account to login;

Since November 2013, users will also need to use Google for comments on YouTube.

At the same time, in order to cover up its failure, Google is also adjusting the positioning of the product. In a public interview, Gondola describes Google from

Google has also forced internal employees to register for Google. A Google employee who has provided technical support for Google products told Silicon Star that the company had asked people to sign up for Google, but she hadn't used it much more since she signed up.

In the end, this mandatory binding has not only failed to increase the amount of time a user stays on the Google, In 2014, a large number of YouTube users lambasted the practice of binding Google on the platform, and in July 2015, YouTube finally announced that it would end the binding requirement.

All of this is further away from Gondola's original grandiose vision. On April 24, 2014, he posted on Google announcing his departure from Google.


In this post, he said.

Behind his departure is the fall of Google's strategic position in Google.

T., a Chinese employee who joined the Google team in 2015, told Silicon Star that by about 2015, the size of the Google team had fallen from a peak of nearly 1,000 people to just around 100.

At the same time, the mobility of the team has become very large. A lot of people come here when the company reallocates their jobs, and they don't stay long before they leave.

In terms of company status, Google was no longer a separate line of business in 2015, but a small product under (SharingOrg), a shared line of business.

In May of that year on the GoogleI/O, originally integrated in the Google image function, officially operating alone, become an independent application. And the ring chat was from Google earlier.


(Google's photo application first appeared as an independent application at the I/O conference held in San Francisco in 2015).

So far, Google's biggest social product attempt has been seen as the biggest failure of all Google products.

But the employee, who has been through the middle and later stages of Google's development, said Google was not a total failure as described.

Google's ambitious emergence overlooks the web attributes of social products. Facebook has completed the online shift in people's real-life social relationships, and now that all your friends are on it, why are you moving to a new platform.

She says Google's engineer culture runs through, and even if the company's status begins to decline, it does not affect the team's enthusiasm for development. She said,


(Google also had a major update in 2016.)

However, these advantages have nothing to do with the positioning of social networks.

According to a survey conducted by a programmer and Google loyal user in 2015, only 0.3 percent of registered Google users posted publicly in January of that year. Of all the 2 billion Google accounts claimed by Google, 92 percent never posted or forwarded any.

Google begins to be Google's

In March, Google finally

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Oct. 8, Google discovered a security risk hidden in Google + code during a self-examination in March this year. If hackers exploit this vulnerability to obtain private data from Google + users between 2015 and March 2018, Google executives know about it, but ultimately decide not to. External disclosure.

Following the release of the report, Google released the announcement mentioned at the beginning of the article. The bulletin says the bug has been fixed and no evidence has been found that it was exploited. In response, Google announced directly that it would close Google's consumer business in August next year. That is, the transformation of toB, to do enterprise products.



Of ordinary people.

In a notice issued in October 8th, Google said:

Between the lines of the word revealed to Google

One Google die-hard user said on Google,

In the seven years since its launch, Google has not become a mainstream social product, but it has built up a small number of loyal users because of its unique temperament.

This is described as

To these loyal users, Google is a secret place that has not been invaded by the mainstream, a backgarden where one can quietly record one's mind, and a pure land not contaminated by advertisers.

Here, people communicate more sincerely, their identities are simpler, and they get together because of a common hobby or theme. Some people regard it as a square for debate study. Some people use it as a garden of their own inspirations.


(a user posted a petition on the petition website asking not to shut down Google.)

And now, the transformation of Google, let them lose this noisy Internet reserves.

Asher2011, a Chinese user, has signed up account G since the beginning of the year, and still basically opens it every day.

Because Google allows anonymous registration to some extent, many users actually don't know each other's true identities, and in the past they didn't want to link their Google accounts with other social platform accounts, so the day the platform was shut down, It could be the day they completely lose their Google friends.

So the old English user, Lewis, immediately created a message called


Lewis wants people to leave behind suggestions about migration and new identity information so that everyone can find each other.

The community has attracted more than 2400 users. It's like the only place in Google, the ghost city, where people huddle before the end of the world.

Users flocking to the square aren't just leaving contact details. More people began to regard it as a place to remember and mourn Google.

Anonymous friends, few users, not too many commercial interruptions, people mention the most.

And these advantages all have one thing in common.

With corporate strategy abandoned and no one strictly managing users' real-name systems, Google maintained some of the first anonymous social features of the Internet and, without a large number of users, was unable to attract advertisers. The flow of information here is no longer full of all kinds of commercial promotion.

This ideal social network is not given by Google, but now it has to be recovered by Google.

Lewis told the Silicon Star that Google is Google's.

And in Asher's Google personal page, in fact, no one has been interacting with him.

Although he has more than 4100 followers, every word Asher utters is like a rock sinking into the sea, and occasionally some responses come from

And 10 months later, Asher had no place to talk to himself.

In the signature column of the community founded by Lewis, he wrote:

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