Does closing Reader hurt Google in the future?
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.
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.