One day, the Google engineers developing a new photo-sharing app, Photovine, were dreaming that their app could be Google’s next household name and basking in the glow of the $200 million that Google had paid to buy their start-up, Slide.
The next day, Google announced that their whole operation was shut down, just one of more than 25 projects that Larry Page, Google’s chief executive, has stopped since taking over in April.
Google has said it has cut projects that weren’t popular enough or didn’t fit neatly into one of Google’s main businesses. “We have to make tough decisions about what to focus on,” Mr. Page told analysts last month. “This prioritization is crucial if we are to really invest in the extraordinary opportunities that are in front of Google today.”
But it is a big change in strategy for Google, which since it was small company has succeeded in large part by letting engineers have free reign to experiment and come up with new ideas. As I technology/googles-chief-works-to-trim-a-bloated-ship.html?ref=technology">wrote about in The Times on Thursday, it’s all part of the changes Mr. Page is making as he takes over the top job.
Some people worry that Google risks squelching innovation if it discourages engineers’ independent projects, and say that these changes in particular have frustrated some employees.
But others say that as Google grew, it became impossible for so many projects to continue unchecked because there were just tooÂ many engineers and managers. That is one reason Mr. PageÂ streamlined the management structure, sacrificed projects and encouraged employees to align their work with Google’s big goals.
“It has been somewhat of a change of approach,” Sergey Brin, who founded Google with Mr. Page, said at the Web 2.0 conference last month. “Weâ€™ve always run the company as let a thousand flowers bloom.”
But now, he said, “we want to make sure that we really focus on the really great successes that have bloomed from those thousand flowers.”
Engineers, in the name of experimentation, had created so many small products that people were confused about Google’s brand, Mr. Brin said.
Mr. Page, he said, has emphasized “not thinking of it as a hundred independent little start-ups, but really providing a coherent user experience.”
The projects in the Google cemetery include all but one of Slide’s apps, Google Health, Buzz, Google Labs and Google PowerMeter.