Google shuts down Slide, Max Levchin departs
Google has closed down Slide, the social media app and game maker it purchased just about a year ago.
And while many of Slide's 125 employees will be sticking around at Google, joining other product teams, Slide's founder and Chief Executive Max Levchin is leaving the tech giant.
"Max has decided to leave Slide and Google to pursue other opportunities, and we wish him the best," Google said in a statement. "Most of the team from Slide will remain at Google to work on other opportunities."
The decision to shut down Slide, which was founded in 2005, is a sudden one. Google never publicly said how much it bought the company for, but estimates were that it spent $182 million plus $46 million in retention bonuses.
At the time that Google purchase Slide, it was said that the search giant, which had fumbled many attempts at catching on in social media, was really interested in Levchin, who is known as a hard-core senior engineer with big-time social networking credibility.
A person close to the deal told The Times last year that, "There just aren't that many people who have that combination."
Slide was allowed to operate largely on its own and often released its products without Google branding and Levchin, Slide's chief executive and a PayPal co-founder, became a vice president of engineering, taking on a lead role in social media efforts at Google.
Just last week Slide opened up its latest effort to the public, a photo sharing app called Photovine that, like many of Slide's products, was first launching on Apple's iOS operating system found on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Slide's decisions to launch apps on iOS before Android, as well as a number of games for Facebook, MySpace and even Friendster, might have been among contributing factors to Google pulling the plug on the San Francisco-based side business.
Another reason for the move to dismantle Slide is likely Larry Page's move to streamline Google's operations and bring focus to what the company is building. Page closed down Google Labs earlier this year despite the incubator being the birthplace of Google Maps, Google News and Google Trends.
Despite the recent launch of Photovine, it and all other Slide products except for one -- Prizes.org developed by Slide's team in China -- are going to be killed off by Google, according to the website Tech Crunch.
Slide said in a blog post on its website that its products will be retired over the coming months and that it will give its users ample time to download any data they want from its services, in case a user wants to move the data elsewhere. For example, on Slide.com, users will soon be able to "either download their photos or export them to a Picasa account." The export feature is currently being built and users will have "several months" to get their data before everything is gone.
"We created products with the goal of providing a fun way for people to connect, communicate and share," Slide said. "Many of these products are no longer as active or haven't caught on as we originally hoped."
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: PayPal co-founder, former Slide chief executive and former Google Vice President Max Levchin. Credit: Joi Ito