Google has always been in the habit of releasing a lot of products. And also to cancel them. Sites like killedbygoogle.com they serve exclusively to show the projects discontinued by the company, which, according to the list, would already be 275 (and counting).
Despite being one of the most important companies in the world, Google has maintained a certain startup culture throughout its history. Proof of this is the famous 20% policyfrom which employees could work one day a week on private projects. AdSense and Google News emerged from the initiative, according to founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
This incentive for experimentation seems to be behind the company’s various attempts to get its launches off the ground. While companies like Apple take a little longer to calibrate their products well, Google tends to move faster to mark territory. The problem is that a lot of things just don’t work and end up being discontinued.
Stadia, the cloud gaming service, is the latest example of this. But for some years now it has been said about Google’s reputation for killing projects without showing proper commitment to them. Now, however, the company may be taking steps to rid itself of this bad reputation. In the midst of a bad economic moment, the company’s guideline is to focus on efficiency.
Last month, it was revealed that Google would eliminate 50% of the ventures touched by the Area 120. It is an incubator focused on experimental projects. According to TechCrunchaffected employees will have until the end of January 2023 to find new roles at the company.
The cut comes at a time when Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, is trying to make the company 20% more efficient. In an internal meeting, Pichai would have informed that productivity rates “are not where they should be” for a company with the number of employees that Google has.
Following this trend, the CEO would have asked employees for help to create a culture focused on the company’s mission, products and customers. This would require, among other things, “minimizing distractions”.
It’s hard not to associate the closure of Stadia and the cut at Area 120 with this Pichai crusade for efficiency. Add to that the next version of Pixelbook laptop, which will not see the light of day. The evidence points to a context in which aiming in too many directions is seen as risky.
It is already known that the company is putting the foot on the brake of hiring and decreasing investment in certain areas. All of these elements align to show that while exploration and innovation are in Google’s DNA, negative financial results quickly shift priorities.
Less startup spirit
It’s too early to say how Pichai’s emphasis on efficiency will impact Google’s new ventures. Perhaps it means that the company’s most experimentation phase will come to an end; on the other hand, it could also indicate a more down-to-earth approach going forward.
Many of Google’s discontinued products were over-ambitious. Stadia itself is an example of this: the various broken promises they were clues that the platform’s fate was sealed long before the announcement of its demise.
At the same time, the marketing effort needed to get the service off the ground also doesn’t seem to have taken place. The impression is that Google wanted to claim that it competed in the cloud gaming segment – where players like Microsoft, Sony and Amazon already have a strong presence – but without really putting themselves in the game.
If Pichai wants a more efficient Google with fewer distractions, initiatives like Stadia are likely to become less frequent. Acting like a startup can have its benefits—launching lots of products quickly, taking up space, and seeing what works—but it’s an approach where failures are common. In the current economic climate, it’s no surprise that Google will make a little more conservative choices.
a graveyard of products
But, in addition to Stadia, there are still many other products and services closed by Google. remember the Google Wave? and the very curious Project Ara? At the Technocast 263we talked about the company’s culture and remembered some of its discontinued projects.