Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Exclusive: Max Levchin to Leave Google as Slide Is Shut Down

Slide, the social apps company that Google bought just over a year ago for about $200 million, will be dissolved, and its well-regarded leader Max Levchin will depart Google, sources close to the matter told AllThingsD.

Google confirmed the departure today.

“Max has decided to leave Slide and Google to pursue other opportunities, and we wish him the best,” said a Google spokesperson. “Most of the team from Slide will remain at Google to work on other opportunities.”

After being acquired, Slide had operated as an independent unit out of Google’s San Francisco office, maintaining existing apps like SuperPoke Pets and experimenting with new ones such as messaging app Disco and photo-sharing app Photovine, which was released only last week.

The apps, none of which were extremely popular, will be sunsetted over the next few months.

The news was announced to employees at an all-staff meeting in San Francisco this afternoon, sources said. A source said that some of the Slide team is expected to land at YouTube, which is also operated independently within Google. Slide has about 100 employees, with not too much attrition in the last year, said that source.

Although Slide as an independent start-up had not matched its lofty expectations and valuations — at as much as $500 million in a 2008 funding round — its acquisition brought Google some key assets: Social Web expertise at a time when it was dearly needed, and Levchin, who famously founded PayPal.

But that was last August. Since then, Google has entrusted its social efforts to two of its existing executives, Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz, who led the team that created Google+. Levchin was left on the fringes with Slide as an autonomous subsidiary, reporting to Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

In addition, at the time Slide was bought, Google CEO Larry Page had not yet reassumed leadership of the company he co-founded. In April, Page consolidated and streamlined Google’s product structure into seven distinct units. And even though the social team may have been the natural fit for Slide, the two were not integrated.

In addition to Levchin, Slide head of product Jared Fliesler also plans to leave Google, and has accepted a position with former Slide colleague Keith Rabois at payments start-up Square, sources said. (Rabois had joined Google only very briefly after Slide was bought, before jumping ship to work with Twitter co-founder and creator Jack Dorsey at Square.)

Levchin has also been an active angel investor, is chairman of the board of Yelp, and — congrats to him and his wife — is expecting his second child next month.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik