This article was published on February 9, 2010

Google Just Declared War On Social Startups – Who Is Going Down?

Google Just Declared War On Social Startups – Who Is Going Down?
Alex Wilhelm
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Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]

google buzz logoWith the launch of Google Buzz, Google is sticking social into the full Google empire, pulling social interaction away from the periphery of social  startups.

Instead of going around to different startup companies to get your social fix, Google will sell you that drug in Gmail, no work needed. They will even auto-follow people for you, just to get you hooked.

We have just seen the giant Google step upon the VC-backed social village. What startups are going to take it on the chin? Let’s take a look.


While Google today made huge overtures to the Twitter community, bringing Twitter up at various times, always discussing integration and nice playing. Real story? Google just created their own way to update your status. Twitter will be there for the comfort of its fans, but Google wants you to use Google. This is a serious hit to the future of the Twitter ecosystem.

Consider the number of users that Twitter has compared to the number of users that Google can bring to bear for Buzz from Gmail, Orkut, and the tens of millions with normal Google accounts. Google can grow Buzz from literally nothing to a behemoth overnight. Twitter used to be growing quickly, now it has to just to keep afloat. The need to innovate and reignite growth or be marginalized.

None of that mentions the fact that Buzz has handfuls more features than Twitter does. Simplicity grew Twitter, but can it carry it around the track again?


FriendFeed was over the moment that Facebook bought it, but now it is especially dead. With Buzz copying quite a bit of its look and feel, FriendFeed will hemorrhage its last few hundred thousand users and disappear with a whimper into that dark night.


Cliqset has long been struggling to find traction, recreating itself numerous times trying to find the right product match. With Buzz, the number of people looking for a new social service is going to begin to dry up, hurting their chances of finding an audience for their product. Google just put a dark cloud in their future.


Ominous from Google today for the startup Glue was Google’s note that Buzz will learn what you do and do not like, exactly what Glue is out to do. Admittedly, Glue does more than that, but its semantic recommendation engine just got a serious competitor. Who wants to share their soup with Google?


Much of the demos that Google gave today included mapping capabilities inside of Google that integrated Buzz into normal Maps offerings. Combine that with Google’s constant mentioning of tying Buzz updates to locations, and the Buzz mobile app’s ability to track where you are, and you have a Foursquare killer already made.

Foursquare has far less than one million users putting them at a serious disadvantage to the coming Google Buzz storm.


Whatever hurts Foursquare will hurt its smaller rival all the more. Gowalla was in hot water to catch up to Foursquare, how will it ever catch Google?


This is speculation, but with Google’s talk around integrating Buzz into locations in Google maps, Google could add in Yelp capability on the double, just by extending how you Buzz at those locations.

Remember when Google almost bought Yelp? I bet that this is why. Google wanted to bake Yelp into Buzz to make it even more killer from day one.


Facebook is the real social success in the last few years. It recently stormed past 400 million active users, and seems to refuse to let its foot off of the gas pedal on growth. Google Buzz competes with parts of Facebook, especially the parts that FriendFeed will merge into, such as your personal news feed, but the two are not direct rivals.

In the question and answer period after the Buzz demonstration, Google was quite demur on Facebook integration. What does that mean? We might not be seeing any. With Google and Facebook keeping apart in two different silos, we are going to see a two part social world in the coming months. Buzz and search, and Facebook and privacy.

What does all this mean? In a nutshell, Google has decided to build instead of buy, much to the startup world’s chagrin. Google is building a social monster that has fingers in the whole world of Google, something that should make everyone worry to no end as to what can be done with Google sucking up potential and current users as fast as it can.

Add in the companies that you think are headed for choppy waters in the comments.

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