Google 'obsessed' with chasing Facebook

A former Google executive has gone public with a lament that the internet star has become obsessed with advertising and seizing the online social networking crown from Facebook.

James Whittaker left Microsoft in 2009 for a high-level software engineering job at Google only to recently jump back to the California-based firm's rival.

In a personal blog post he explained why he left what is considered one of the world's most desirable workplaces.

"The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate," Whittaker said.

"The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus."

That focus was to conquer the online social networking realm where Facebook rules and Google stumbled with offerings such as Buzz and Wave, according to Whittaker.

"Larry Page himself assumed command to right this wrong," he said, referring to the Google co-founder who took over as chief executive last year.

"Social became state-owned, a corporate mandate called Google+," he continued.

Emphasis was put on synching Google+ social network with the company's popular services such as search and online video venue YouTube.

"Like the proverbial hare confident enough in its lead to risk a brief nap, Google awoke from its social dreaming to find its front runner status in ads threatened," Whittaker said.

Google shut down its Labs initiative to support experimental projects and soured on a policy that lets employees spend 20 per cent of their time on ideas unrelated to their usual jobs, according to the former 'Googler.'

"As the trappings of entrepreneurship were dismantled, derisive talk of the 'old Google' and its feeble attempts at competing with Facebook surfaced to justify a 'new Google' that promised 'more wood behind fewer arrows'."

Whittaker told of working on Google+ but seeing the social network make little headway against Facebook.

"As it turned out, sharing was not broken," he said. "Sharing was working fine and dandy, Google just wasn't a part of it."

"Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn't invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation," Whittaker continued. "The fact that no one came to Google's party became the elephant in the room."

Google declined to comment for this story.

- AFP

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