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Did Jaiku just become a sacrifical lamb for the GPhone?

Jaiku logo

Did Google buy Jaiku for it’s engineering talent rather than for the product? I’m betting the engineering team is going to be siphoned off into the GPhone project.

Firstly, Google just bought themselves a bunch of highly experienced engineers, including Jaiku co-founder Jyri Engeström who is an a former senior engineer at Nokia. They’ve proven they can execute and build product cross-web/mobile product and so the team on its own is an asset to the GPhone project.

Secondly, as Finnish nationals it’s a lot easier for them to relocate to London (where the GPhone project is being built) than American nationals. Migration between EU member states doesn’t require any paperwork or work visas.

Vague blog post is still telling

The wording of the Google blog post is vague and guarded, but still equally telling:

“Current Jaiku users can still use the service normally, and new folks can sign up for an invitation to the service when we’re ready to expand. We plan to use the ideas and technology behind Jaiku to make compelling and useful products.”

Hmmm. “..Users can still use the service normally” doesn’t mean “we’re going to keep innovating the service”.

And “We plan to use the ideas and technology behind Jaiku to make compelling and useful products” implies that the Jaiku resource is going to be used elsewhere in the Google empire to me.

At best Jaiku might be back-filled by lesser Google mortals, and at worst left to rot much like Dodgeball, Measure Map and many other startups that have gone to ‘The Plex’.

As Alex Payne twitters (thanks Alex H for the tip):

“Does anyone else on the internet remember that Google != awesome social products? It’s where social tech goes to die, people.”

If I was Ev Williams and Biz Stone I’d be popping the champaign today as that’s a major competitor out of the game. Meanwhile a smart cookie in the development scene could easily crack on with a son-of-Jaiku to take the place of what Jaiku could, and should, have become.

RIP Jaiku.

Published in News Thoughts and Rants


  1. What indicators are you using when you say the gPhone project is being built in London? I haven’t run across that tidbit yet.

  2. Apple ended up having to shift personnel to the iPhone project, causing Leopard to come late, and maybe feature delays for some other stuff. I can’t help but wonder if Google is also finding phone software harder than expected, or maybe good phone programmers pretty scarce.

    I’m also curious if the Jaiku acquisition might shed any light on the GPhone itself, assuming they did buy Jaiku for the programmers and technology?

    Now I’m a bit glad they didn’t buy Twitter, since I’d hate to see it stop growing new users, let alone disappear!

  3. Ben Ben


    I was invited to the opening of the London Google office, which from the get-go has been championed as their mobile HQ (this must have been 2-3 years ago, before GPhone). I don’t think they do much else there other than some Google Appliance sales.

    Since then I’ve heard various things about the projects going on there from people I know who work at Google, which I can’t really attribute for obvious reasons.

    (Not sure if you know my background, but I’m originally from London so I know a lot of people in the London tech industry at the major players: BBC, Google, Yahoo!).

  4. Erik Willumsgaard Erik Willumsgaard

    Dear Ben Metcalf

    I think you’re having very good points here. I too tried to utter some remarks in the same directions directly on Jaiku, where I have been a relatively activ user during the previous half year.

    But most users seemed to be happily sending grats to the lucky – former – owners of Jaiku, Jyri and Petteri.

    According to your post I find it very exiting to see what will happen in the coming year!

  5. Great post Ben! I hope your wrong but the historical trend is hard to argue with. GrandCentral has also gone essentially dark since being acquired as has JotSpot.

  6. I sure hope you’re wrong! You’re probably not going to be though 🙁

  7. Ben Ben

    @Marc, @Marshall… which leads me to the question – why did Jyri and Petteri sell?

    I’m not against startup owners using Google as an exit, even if it means their project might be put on ice under it’s new owners. But anyone looking to put any serious amount of time/money/attention/another scarce resource into a startup needs to carefully consider what the owner’s ultimate motives are for their site.

  8. Hi Ben – just found your blog, and enjoyed reading your perspective on Google / Jaiku. I have a bit of a different view to yours (, but the length of time passing since the acquisition is making it look more and more like your thoughts are correct.

    There seems to be a fresh wave of Jaiku rumours circulating at the moment, I guess becuase of the technical problems Twitter is having currently. I wondered if this post still reflected your opinion, or if you had any new thoughts on the subject?

  9. Some genuinely nice and useful info on this internet site, as well I think the pattern has wonderful features.

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