Google engineer slams Google+ as 'pathetic afterthought'

Engineer accidentally posts Google+ rant publicly, getting Internet abuzz

A Google engineer has caused an online stir by posting a long rant on Google+ that slams Google and calls the company's new social network a "pathetic afterthought."

Steve Yegge, a Google software engineer, accidentally posted a diatribe publicly instead of privately on Google+ Tuesday night. And while he has removed the post, his words are still ringing around the Internet.

"We don't understand platforms. We don't 'get' platforms. Some of you do, but you are the minority," wrote Yegge, according to a copy of his post picked up by SiliconFilter. "The Google+ platform is a pathetic afterthought."

Adding that the failure to understand platforms starts at the top of Google's chain of command, Yegge specifically called out CEO Larry Page, co-founder Sergey Brin and Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.

"Google+ is a knee-jerk reaction, a study in short-term thinking, predicated on the incorrect notion that Facebook is successful because they built a great product," Yegge wrote, adding that Facebook wants to hire him. "I'm not saying it's too late for us, but the longer we wait, the closer we get to being Too Late."

Early Wednesday, Yegge took down the post and added a new one, saying his first rant wasn't meant to go out publicly.

"Sadly, it was intended to be an internal post, visible to everybody at Google, but not externally," wrote Yegge. "So my opinions, even though they may seem well-formed and accurate, really are just a bunch of opinions from someone who's nowhere near the center of the action -- so I wouldn't read too much into anything I said."

However, he also noted that he would be reposting his thoughts internally.

Google had not responded to a request for comments at deadline.

While Yegge's post presents the thoughts of just one Google engineer, Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, said this accidental posting is a striking reminder about the need to know how to post something privately and publicly. But it also could be quite telling in terms of the internal Google discussion about how Google+ is faring and how to take it forward.

"This rant tells us a few things," he added. "While it could be one engineer having a bad day, I think it indicates that there's probably some serious discussion within Google about how to make Google+ into something that can give Facebook a run for its money."

While Facebook remains the highly dominant social network around the world, Google+ has gained a lot of ground in the few months since it was launched this past summer. However, despite its advances, analysts have said the question remains as to whether people will use more than one social network in the long term.

"It's safe to say that users don't see Google+ as the best thing since sliced bread," Olds told Computerworld. "While they have gotten a lot of buzz and mindshare, it hasn't translated into the kind of growth that will allow them to strongly compete with Facebook."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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