Smarr is joining Google to “help drive a new company-wide focus on the future of the Social Web,” he writes on his personal blog today. And it seems like a good fit considering that he had been doing things of that nature for Plaxo for nearly 8 years now. In fact, he was the first non-founder to join Plaxo and helped take the social contact list from a tiny company to one that was bought by Comcast last year for $150 million. Most recently, Smarr was officially Plaxo’s Chief Technology Officer.
The transition to Google should be a pretty easy one of Smarr as he’s worked with them as a partner for Plaxo on a number of projects over the years. He’s also well-connected in the social web and is one of the leading advocates of open standards. In that regard, he closely resembles Marks, who is now with British Telecom. “Like all incoming Google engineers, my official title for the first year will be ‘member of technical staff’,” Smarr tells us. “The work is on turbocharging the opening up of the social web,” he continues. At Google, he’ll be reporting the David Glazer, an engineering director.
Smarr notes his excitement for the various technologies that Google has helped develop over the years to make the web a more dynamic place. He also writes that Google is “unmatched” with its commitment to the open web, and standards like OpenID, OAuth, OpenSocial, and others (like Webfinger, a pretty interesting new one, based on an old concept).
That said, Google hasn’t exactly been the most social setting on the web, largely because its services are spread over such a wide range of areas. Facebook, in contrast, is largely a walled garden (that is trying to open up more, to the dismay of some) that has a tightly wound social experience. Google Friend Connect, a key part of OpenSocial, has not be able to gather the buzz that Facebook Connect has, but Google is clearly trying to help it gain steam. It recently revamped the service and even implemented Twitter to help foster its growth.
Speaking of Facebook, they recently hired another one of the key players in the open web, Dave Recordon, who came over from Six Apart. All of these guys travel in the same circles and their interests seem pretty aligned, so it will be interesting to see what, if any, relationships they can foster with their parent companies for the good of the open web.