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Plaxo CTO Joseph Smarr Will Lead Google's Social Web Efforts

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Joseph Smarr, CTO of Comcast-owned Plaxo (s CMCSA), announced today he is joining Google (s GOOG) to lead “a new company-wide focus on the future of the Social Web.” Smarr, who said he will start at Google in late January, has become highly influential on open social web topics even as Plaxo has stayed mostly out of the spotlight, for instance serving on the OpenID Foundation and OpenSocial Foundation board, giving a talk at events like Google I/O (embedded below) and the OpenID Summit, and co-authoring a “Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web.”

Smarr had joined Plaxo as its first employee eight years ago, and said he took the job at Google for its promise to help evolve the web.

Getting the future of the Social Web right—including identity, privacy, data portability, messaging, real-time data, and a distributed social graph—is just as important, and the industry is at a critical phase where the next few years may well determine the platform we live with for decades to come.

As an aside, I attended a talk at the recent Supernova conference during which Google VP product management Bradley Horowitz spoke of an internal Google conversation about prospective hires in which a colleague warned him “It’s better that we don’t hire these clueful people.” The idea was that smart folks could better help advise, push and regulate Google from outside of the company rather than within. I remember wondering if they were talking about Smarr — well, if they were, it seems they changed their minds.

14 Responses to “Plaxo CTO Joseph Smarr Will Lead Google's Social Web Efforts”

  1. Congratulations, José. This is great news, and other Proofpoint that Google is serious about embracing the open and social web. Hoping to hear great things from you and his new team in 2010.

  2. It seems Google is really getting into the social game and doing it quickly. With the possible purchase of Yelp, intertwining Twitter results in search and more or less moving away from the clean search results we are used to seeing it seems as though Google is accepting the fact that the static search result page is dead. It will be interesting to see how this new wave of social search integration helps or hurts their bottom line.

  3. I am glad to see that they hired Joe Smarr because if there is one man who can make them think differently about social, then it is Joe.

    There have been a lot of people who have tried to bring about change at Google, but their DNA is search and they believe all problems can be solved by machines and computation. As Facebook (and Twitter) have shown, that is not the only case and future of the web has to be social.

    Good news is Joe is savvy, smart, persuasive and more importantly has the larger presence which might buckle Google into thinking different.

  4. Interesting to see that Google is moving into the social space too. In all honesty, I’m surprised they didnt make this move sooner. I guess that is what Google Wave is, in a way, but its not quite the same. It will be interesting to see how they evolve.