The fact that Facebook has been buying other companies JUST to snap up ex-Googlers is EXACTLY why Google is (rumoredly) building Google Me. I’ve made no bones about my growing distaste for Facebook (or my love of Google, for that matter), so I would love to see Google go into the social space (and with something a bit more thoughtout than Google Buzz, please?) and it seems to me that Facebook going on a multi-million dollar spending spree to hire former Google employees into top Facebook positions isn’t helping them avoid a challenge from Google.

One theory says that with Facebook’s half a billion users and Google’s rocky track record with social media Facebook need not be very concerned with such rumors, and that may well be true. But that’s not how I see it. Despite the mumblings of folks who say Google’s only ever been successful with one thing (memo to such people: SUCCESS doesn’t always equal “profit”. Just look at Firefox, which holds the #2 spot in the browser wars while being completely free; or Google Chrome for that matter, which is the browser with the fastest growth rate and also completely free) Google has, in fact, a huge array of products and services that have had varying degrees of success (search, obviously, has had the most success, but also Google Maps (anybody use MapQuest anymore?), GMail (not as big as Yahoo! or MSN, but arguably the better of the three), YouTube (not created by Google but nurtured by them since they bought the service in 2007, and a great source of social media experience for the company), Blogger (like YouTube, Google bought it in 2003 and has been gaining experience from it ever since), Orkut (a social network built by a Google employee and very popular (to the tune of 100 million active users) in Brazil and India) and, of course, Android, to name only a few. Goggle Buzz, which many people cite as proof that Google only understands algorithmic things like search and serving ads based on keywords, I think was and as a well-meaning attempt at social media, and I think the last 6 months of trying to do “high-profile” social media development has probably taught the company a lot about how to approach this area. Before (and even still mostly since) Buzz was launched the social elements of most Google products (comments on a YouTube video or sharing something in Google Reader) has been separate and (I presume) managed by a different team (Orkut, for example, is managed by people on an entirely different continent from most of the other Google services’ managers). My sense and hope (and this is only a theory, backed up with only a few quotes here and there) is that after the issues raised by the Buzz release Google realized they needed to be even more focused on social if they want to meaningfully play (and I think anyone who wants to survive on the web over the next 5-10 years needs to “play” with social: either linking in (via Facebook Connect (*shudder*) or Twitter’s oAuth, or whatever) or being the ones linked in to (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)) and that they need to make their next move more than just a “side project”. All this means they need to not just let a couple of employees build something cool (like Orkut or Google Wave), but they need to dig around all 10,000 of their engineers, they need to find the 3 dozen who know how social works (if Facebook has managed to hire so many ex-Googlers who know social, there must be some still at Google…I hope) and they need to put them together in a room with a representative from every team that manages a product or service that Google wants to integrate with their social network (YouTube, Blogger, Orkut, Buzz, etc.).

Then they need to hire someone from the EFF to make sure they don’t create a company-imploding privacvy shitstorm, and they also need to poach somebody from Apple’s (or maybe HTC’s) UI design team to make it look awesome.

That’s probably not exactly what they’re doing, but I’m hoping this is a metaphor for reality.

This…kinda took a different direction from how I meant it to. It also took me 90 minutes to write (all those sources, and possibly because I have an addled brain from a head cold and being awake all night) so I’m going to leave whatever it is at this point and take myself off to bed…since 7am is waaaaaaay past my bedtime.