Google has an unfortunate history of buying companies — and then running them into the ground. Sometimes, this leads to a bit of ill-will between the Internet giant and the companies’ founders. We saw a perfect example of this when Dodgeball’s founders (including current Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley) quit Google in a huff. Today, the co-founder of another acquisition, Panoramio, is out as well, but he insists the company is happy under Google.
In a post today on the Panoramio blog, co-founder Eduardo Manchón, says that after four and a half years working on the service, it’s time to leave. Google acquired Panoramio in mid-2007 and Manchón has been there ever since, running the service. He notes that, “Acquisitions can be complicated, and the private nightmare of a founder is the site not surviving the process, but after some time Panoramio feels very comfortable at Google.”
Panoramio has certainly gained a lot of exposure thanks to Google. It’s heavily featured not only in Google Earth, but also in Google Maps. The service claims to have over 20 million high quality photos in Google’s databases, which makes it much smaller than Flickr, Facebook, or even Google’s own Picasa, but the difference is that all Panoramio photos are geolocated, which makes them very useful for Google’s mapping projects. Under Google, the Panoramio photo collection has growth from about 2 million to this 20 million number.
Manchón’s exit seems to more closely mirror that of Jyri Engeström, the co-founder of Jaiku, who left Google last October. Even though Jaiku was another service Google managed to run into the ground, Engeström claimed that he enjoyed his time at Google but simply wanted to make new meaningful products. This is similar to Manchón’s stated reason for leaving, which is to join the “new hyperlocal Q&A site Askaro.com,” he writes to us.
Another Googler, Gerard Sanz, formerly of the Blogger team, will take over running the Panoramio community.