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Does closing Reader hurt Google in the future?

Posted: , by Alan F.

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Does closing Reader hurt Google in the future?
If the name Chris Wetherell doesn't sound familiar to you, perhaps you know the product he invented eight years ago. Wetherell is the creator of  Google Reader, the news aggregating application that was shut down on Monday despite a huge following. He says that if he had come up with the idea today, he would have launched it outside of Google and built it up independently of Mountain View.

Almost completely overlooked in the decision by Google to close Reader is the precedence it is setting for current and future employees. There is no longer any incentive for workers to bring their best idea to management, knowing that even if a new idea becomes wildly popular, it could get shut down. Jenna Bilotta, a former Google UX designer who worked on the Google Reader project with Wetherall, says that "If people have an amazing idea that they feel passionate about, it may almost feel safer to leave the company to protect your idea." If Wetherall and Bilotta had left Google and brought out Reader on their own, who knows what they might each be worth now? Hoping to capture lightning in a bottle once again, the pair has teamed up to develop Avocado, a private messaging service for couples that is available for iOS and Android.

"If you have this big idea, It might be easier to leave the company. You might feel this. I’m not sure. But someone might feel like they should just leave the company rather than finding a way to explore it within Google and then have Google say in a couple years ‘It doesn’t matter how many millions of people are using the thing, we’ve got larger concerns. I suspect that if I were Google leadership I would be concerned that people are not going to be as free with amazingly great ideas as they would be before. I would be concerned that I wouldn’t be encouraging people to build treasured things. I don’t know if that’s what’s happened."-Chris Wetherell, Creator, Google Reader

Bilotta, like many others, still scratches her head over Google decision to 86 Google Reader. "I think the reason why people are freaking out about Reader is because that Reader did stick. The numbers, at least until I left, were still going up." While the decision by Google to close Reader affects many people now, in the future it might be Google that gets hurt if the best ideas from inside the company end up developed outside the company.

Google Reader creator Chris Wetherell (L) and former Google UX designer Jenna Bilotta
Google Reader creator Chris Wetherell (L) and former Google UX designer Jenna Bilotta

Google Reader creator Chris Wetherell (L) and former Google UX designer Jenna Bilotta


source: Forbes

4 Comments
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posted on 01 Jul 2013, 19:40 1

1. Googler (Posts: 813; Member since: 10 Jun 2013)


That's pretty much any company. The best way is develop independently, get a great following, then maybe sell to someone like Google and retire afterwards.

posted on 01 Jul 2013, 20:23 1

2. fanboy1974 (Posts: 1153; Member since: 12 Nov 2011)


"There is no longer any incentive for workers to bring their best idea to management"

The incentive is that you got paid. If you develop anything while working for a company while getting paid it is the company's property. Otherwise you should quit and hope that the company will not go after you. What if Apple decided to scrap John Ivy's entire design concept within iOS 7 after a year and hires someone else? John can't come back screaming like a little biotch. He got paid for his work and his ideas are owned by Apple. If Steve Jobs was still alive and decided to work for Google he cannot legally use those same ideas; their owned by Apple.
If I come up with a product that saved my company a million dollars it is the property of my company; the people who paid me. Otherwise I should quit and do it myself. This is common sense.
And if you had this wonderful idea before starting at the company then do the work yourself before starting. Don't use the company for it's resources only to get burned later.

posted on 01 Jul 2013, 22:41

4. Reluctant_Human (Posts: 847; Member since: 28 Jun 2012)


"There is no longer any incentive for workers to bring their best idea to management"

That is a very valid point that is being brought up here. Google has always been a company that thrives on the ethic that employees are encouraged to pursue new ideas and it has worked amazingly well for them. They have attracted tons of talent with this business model and also developed great services because of it. There is nothing more discouraging than seeing than seeing your idea scraped even though it is popular and growing. If it was a project that didn't pick up traction it would make a lot more sense to scrap it.

The key difference that you are failing to see is that Jony Ive was hired SPECIFICALLY to work on this design. Google Reader was a side project. As you mentioned before since the idea and concept was developed while working for Google it now belongs to Google and this is where the gripe comes in. Seeing this happen at Google gives the employees less incentive to develop an idea while working for them (or just about any major company) and go into business for themselves.

If this is the sentiment that is spreading throughout Google then it is a big loss to the company. If true employees are still getting paid for their regular jobs just
losing the incentive and drive to develop new ideas for Google in their spare time.

posted on 01 Jul 2013, 22:22

3. k1ng617 (Posts: 242; Member since: 13 Oct 2009)


I wish them the best of luck in their new venture.

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