orkut – Stay N Alive

Google Has Large Company Syndrome

I’ve worked for various companies over my career.  Some of those very small (including my current startup), and some very large, international and public corporations.  I currently work with similar clients of various sizes and types.  Each and every one of them shared characteristics that come with the turf in managing a large or a small company.  In a small company, you’re dealing with issues like how to grow, how do you start to deal with a growing employee base, and how do you handle all the workload in front of you on such a limited budget.  Yet you have much more flexibility to get things done and build for the whole of the company.  With large corporations you’re dealing with politics, and budgets, and individual departments all fighting for control.  It’s common amongst every single organization I have come in contact with, and I believe that is starting to include Google, which we’re seeing evident in many of their new Social products.

Let me preface with the fact that I love the concept of Buzz.  As an avid FriendFeed user and Social Media addict, Buzz hits many points that are just sweet in my eyes.  I love that they’re embracing open technologies to build it, and working hard to empower individuals and even (soon) developers to have control over their own experiences on the platform.  With the size of Google, this will bring much more attention to these types of technologies, so what they are doing is a good thing.  I don’t think they needed to reinvent the wheel to do it though, and I think the reason they did it may be in part due to the size and politics of the company.

Enter Google Reader.  I’ve complained many times that I don’t think Reader needed to focus on Social.  I don’t think it needed to re-build your Social Graph all over again.  Now, with Buzz in the mix they are trying to cross-integrate the two, and I think it’s really the wrong approach.

What I think is happening is departments at Google aren’t working close enough together to make things work properly.  For instance, Orkut already has the strength of building social connections.  Its strength is in building Social Graphs and empowering users to share with their close friends and family.  They already have the tools to do it, and, in some countries this has proved to be quite successful.  I think the Orkut team knows that.

In the case of Reader, what I think is happening is in the product development cycle they realized they needed social features.  The Orkut team wasn’t available, or one of the two teams didn’t have the budget to cross-integrate, or perhaps politics got in the way, so Reader reinvented the wheel to do Social in the Reader environment.  They could have rather done something similar to Facebook Connect, and enabled users to connect to their Orkut Social Graph and brought in shares via that means.  Then Orkut continues to own the Social Graph, social interactions continue to happen through Orkut, and people can continue to build connections with Orkut as the main hub for Social interactivity.  My guess is that the Orkut team was too booked to create such a tool just for the Reader team.  Someone up the line said no to it, so the Reader team built their own tools to accomplish the task.

I think we’re seeing the same with Buzz, and many more tools like Friend Connect and OpenSocial and others at Google.  Sergey most likely assigned a team at Google with the task of building a FriendFeed or Twitter-like product that enabled people to communicate better.  Orkut does not yet have such functionality, and it made sense to do it as a separate product.  They decided to integrate it into Gmail, where your contacts are.  Rather than utilize the strengths of Orkut for organizing these contacts, it was probably easier due to the size of Google to utilize Gmail’s contact manager to do so, which Google Reader just so happens to also use.  The cross-integration with Reader just happened naturally, but thanks to the lack of expertise in Social Graph management, it was done poorly, now making it extremely hard for Google Reader users to manage their stream.

In large companies it’s very hard to cross-integrate.  I think had Google from the get-go started to find ways to build a Facebook Connect-like interface for Orkut, they could have very well created more activity in Orkut itself, while cross-integrating all their other products into the Social Graphs built on Orkut.  Now Google is stuck with an unorganized mush of multiple social graphs, multiple streams, and messaging and content going all over the place within those streams with little regard to privacy.

It may be too late, but if I were Google, I would look at taking a step back, focusing on Orkut, and building out from there before continuing further on any Social Graph-based products.  These social products Google is building should all be relying on Orkut for that social data and then they would have a true Social Network to build from.  They shouldn’t be reinventing the Social Graph every time they build a new service.  This is why Facebook has had such success in the social space – they’ve focused on the one product as the source for all their Social releases.  Google really needs to do the same, and they can still do it with open standards, but this time starting from the Orkut environment and building out.

Orkut OpenSocial Launches in India!

Just this minute (I believe I’m one of the first to report it), Orkut has announced that it is launching to the entire country of India, equaling near 10% of its total users. This is a crowning achievement for Orkut, after months of work to get it into a state suitable for launch. As part of this launch, 5 more applications were added in addition to the 15 that were already in their directory during the pre-testing period, totaling 20 applications at launch for Orkut. Google really seems to be taking this launch extremely cautiously.

As mentioned earlier, starting next week they will begin adding more applications to the directory on a first-come, first-serve basis, giving priority to those that were submitted on or before 2/15. Members of the development team will be hanging out starting next week in the opensocial irc channel on freenode to answer questions from the development community. Congratulations Orkut! Let’s hope to see many more successful launches in the near future!

Will you be submitting your App to the directory?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEajVXItSgc&hl=en]

Orkut to Launch OpenSocial to 10% of Users in "About" the Next Week

I’m going to take this one with a grain of salt. The last time they made an announcement like this it was recalled, and more than a month later until we actually saw a launch. However, today Orkut announced that they would be launching to 10% of their users, in a gradual rollout within “about” the next week. It looks as though they will be launching to millions of users in India at first, corresponding to 10% of their user base. Is the time really coming? Orkut – we really do want to see you succeed! Release early and release often man!

Read more at OpensocialNow.com

OpenSocial Launch to be delayed "a few weeks"

I’ve blogged over at OpensocialNow.com that Orkut is delaying their launch to the public for a few weeks.  Read more about it here:


Announcing OpensocialNow.com – OpenSocial News and Reviews

OpenSocialNow.comI’m proud to announce a new website I’ve been working on.  You may have heard me Twitter about it a few times.  The site is called OpensocialNow!, and will be your source for OpenSocial News, Reviews, and info.  We’ll cover the Orkut launch, the Myspace launch, Hi5, and LinkedIn, as well as general things you can do with OpenSocial.  This is the first blog of its kind, and as OpenSocial launches in the next week or two I’m sure you’ll see many more like it.  It’s my hope that you’ll subscribe to the site via rss and make it your Official source for all things related to the popular social networking platform, OpenSocial.  You can read more about it right on the website here:


Oh, and stay tuned to OpensocialNow.com.  I have one more big announcement about a change in the OpenSocial launch coming up tonight!