Planet Google

Three Ways Google Botched the Launch of Google+ Ancestor Orkut

Mr. Edwards.

Douglas Edwards was employee #59 at Google, where he headed up brand management around everything from April Fool’s Day to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the launch of products like Gmail, and the company’s IPO. In a new book, I’m Feeling Lucky, he writes about the launch of orkut.com, a social network built by engineer Orkut Buyukkokten under the product supervision of Marissa Mayer. Mr. Buyukkokten came to Google from Stanford where he “had become intrigued by the idea of social networks–a way to connect with friends and acquaintances online.”

As a student, the engineer had created a social network called “Club Nexus” for his friends at Stanford. He decided to use his 20 percent free time at Google to build it out, and built “orkut”–originally code-named “Eden,” then renamed after it was determined that the domain was unavailable–entirely on his own as a prototype. The project, Ms. Mayer had decided, would be a demonstration of how to incubate a start-up style project within Google’s increasingly bureaucratic structure, and kept it apart from Google Labs. This was arguably the company’s first mistake. Read More