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August 6, 2010

Google Buys Slide

Google announced that it has acquired Slide, a start-up that develops social apps. TechCrunch reports that Google paid $228 million for Slide, after investing in Zynga, one of Slide's competitors.

"For Google, the web is about people, and we're working to develop open, transparent and interesting (and fun!) ways to allow our users to take full advantage of how technology can bring them closer to friends and family and provide useful information just for them. Slide has already created compelling social experiences for tens of millions of people across many platforms, and we've already built strong social elements into products like Gmail, Docs, Blogger, Picasa and YouTube. As the Slide team joins Google, we'll be investing even more to make Google services socially aware and expand these capabilities for our users across the web."

It's obvious that Google plans to launch a social service to compete with Facebook, but it's not clear why it would buy a company that develops apps like SuperPoke, SuperPoke Pets or FunSpace. Maybe for Slide's engineering talent, Slide's valuable analytics data or maybe because it couldn't buy Zynga.


Social networks and online games account for about 33% of the time spent online in the US, according to a Nielsen study. Tom Chatfield, the author of Fun Inc: Why Games Are The 21st Century's Most Serious Business, thinks that social games aren't a fad: "People realised that a social platform like Facebook gives people ways to show off to, or compete with, their friends. It's so much more engaging to do something with people you know than to do it with strangers. You can cheat if you're playing online with strangers, but playing with friends is an incentive to be fair, and that brings the emotional rewards of competition."

Since Facebook has the Internet's main social graph and stores data about more than 500 million users, all the cool social apps integrate with Facebook. In the future, every web application will have a social component, which will probably powered by Facebook, a closed social network that traps user data.

OpenSocial is a Google project whose goal was to create social apps that work in any social network. FriendConnect was designed to transform any site in an OpenSocial container. Buzz is the epitome of openness, by embracing open standards and allowing anyone to access the firehose, which includes public activity from every Buzz user. Unfortunately, these projects haven't been very successful, so Google will have to build a social network on top of OpenSocial, Google Buzz and Google Profiles. The project is crucial for the future of Google search, Google ads, Google's web apps and maybe more than that.

Peter Norvig says in an interview that Google's biggest mistake was ignoring social networking.

"I can't speak for the whole company, but I guess not embracing the social aspects [was Google's biggest mistakes]. Facebook came along and has been very successful, and I may have dismissed that early on. There was this initial feeling of, 'Well, this is about real, valid information, and Facebook is more about celebrity gossip or something.' I think I missed the fact that there is real importance to having a social network and getting these recommendations from friends. I might have been too focused on getting the facts and figures—to answer a query such as 'What digital camera should I buy?' with the best reviews and facts, when some people might prefer to know 'Oh, my friend Sally got that one; I'll just get the same thing.' Maybe something isn't the right answer just because your friends like it, but there is something useful there, and that's a factor we have to weigh in along with the others."

12 comments:

  1. First comment like always, yay!
    Oh and Google fix up those game cuz some of them are really boring.

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  2. How smart buy a bunch of products for millions of dollars and shutdown something that is the best tool ever and home grown!

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  3. @alexandrojv Google doesn't seem too smart sometimes... I think they need to hire on a bunch of people that "get" social networking and social media and don't let any of their "normal" google staff to interfere with them!

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  4. facebook needs some competition. In a capitalistic society, it is always a good idea for the leader to have some strong competition. Here is wishing google all the best, they start as the underdog.

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  5. they need to buy zynga then pull all the social pieces they already have together in a socially aware igoogle envelope.

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  6. what i don't get is how google will beat facebook by competing with zynga as zynga runs on facebook itself..buying zynga is a solution otherwise it may be tough for google to find people to play their games.lets see...

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  7. Welcome to 2010, how do you ignore social media. That wasn't the smartest move.

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  8. But it will be difficult to bring people from one social media platform to other . Because it not only the people but the entire community need to shift . I think if google is doing this just for the revenue of Gaming then I guess they are going to do another mistake

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  9. Great post. Google seems to have been blind sided like a lot of people, not noticing that FaceBook had developed a propriety destination where people were spending an increasing amount of time. It's interesting to see how they are trying to play catch up. Obviously launching a straight competitor isn't going to work so they seem to be adding social in chunks by stealth. Fascinating to watch.

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  10. I heard the other day that Facebook could take search from Google...I'm sorry but I doubt seriously I'm going to search for important information on Facebook.

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  11. Bad move. Slide inc is the WORST! Their "superpoke pets" app makes millions, or should i say made millions. Within the last 4 months they have banned thousands of players, most recently even more over a glitch thats was Slide's fault. Im guessing 90% paid real money for items in the game. They have the worst customer service i have ever seen. Never will i use my cash oh a game/app owned by Slide inc. Stick to Zynga ;)

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  12. Google should seriously rethink their recent Penguin filter because the search results have gone to the dogs leaving Bing a better option

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