SocialDeck is Latest Ingredient in Google’s Recipe For A Social Platform to Rival Facebook; Reviewing the List, From Aardvark to Zynga

8/31/10Follow @wroush

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more users as well as giving our team greater opportunities,” LabPixies’ founders wrote in April, when Google acquired the startup. “Google and LabPixies teams have worked on many projects together including the launch of global OpenSocial based gadgets. The acquisition is an opportunity to learn from each other to bring more apps to users, help developers and improve the overall developer ecosystem.”

Levchin, Max—If it is serious about social, then Google has the challenging task of building both an infrastructure for social networking and a set of actual applications or activities that would tap that infrastructure and attract users. Perhaps the most important asset that Google acquired when it bought Slide was Levchin, its founder and CEO, who has experience building both robust infrastructure products like PayPal and social applications like SuperPoke, one of Slide’s many successful Facebook apps. In a statement published August 6 on the Slide website, Levchin wrote that “Google is committed to building new, open and better ways for users to connect with others,” and called the acquisition “a tremendous opportunity for the two companies to come together to change the way people socialize one the Web.” Reflecting his key role at Google, Levchin is the search giant’s newest vice president of engineering, a title he shares with company veterans like Vint Cerf, Vic Gundotra, Udi Manber, and Andy Rubin.

Smarr, Joseph—The former chief technology officer at Plaxo, Smarr joined Google in December 2009 to “drive a new company-wide focus on the future of the Social Web,” in the words of a lengthy and illuminating blog post. “The industry is at a critical phase where the next few years may well determine the platform we live with for decades to come,” Smarr wrote. “Getting the future of the Social Web right-including identity, privacy, data portability, messaging, real-time data, and a distributed social graph-is just as important” to Google as its investments in infrastructure technologies like HTML5, the Android mobile operating system, and the Chrome browser, Smarr said. As an advocate of the OpenID website registration system at Plaxo, Smarr may be working to make sure that any emerging Google social networking platform at Google is based around open, decentralized standards for storing users’ online identities and passwords.

SocialDeck—As noted above, SocialDeck’s focus is on making games that stretch across the boundaries between mobile and Web-based social networking, and between Apple, Facebook, and Research in Motion. The company raised a small round of venture backing in March 2009 from the BlackBerry Partners Fund, a venture fund set up by Research In Motion to support companies developing mobile applications and services. “Google Me” would be incomplete without a mobile component, and the company may have realized that it needs to stretch beyond its Android competence to find people understand iPhones and BlackBerry devices.

Zynga—While Google’s alleged investment in this red-hot social gaming company hasn’t been confirmed, and hasn’t even shown up in regulatory filings, it would be logical for the Facebook- and MySpace-centric game developer to hedge its bets by expanding to additional platforms. Look for a Google social gaming platform to include a few games from Zynga.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/wroush/ Wade Roush

    Update: Just came across a nice AdAge article on this same theme: Google Sees Facebook Threat in String of Deals. It includes an informative chart showing most of Google’s acquisitions since February.