Today at our TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, Google’s Marissa Mayer took the stage to talk a bit with our own Michael Arrington. After she revealed a couple new Google Instant features, she went right into another topic: social.
Michael (of course) asked Mayer to disclose Google’s plans for their upcoming social strategy. Mayer (of course) would not do that. But then Michael turned the discussion to a social product Google does currently offer: Orkut. To hear Mayer tell it, the service never caught on in the U.S. simply because it was far too slow after its initial launch.
Orkut launched in January of 2004, and as Mayer remembers it, it attracted “several million users in a few days“. This caused the network to slow down to a crawl, Mayer noted. And that, in turn, turned a lot of users away from it — at least in the U.S. “It’s all about speed here,” she said.
In Brazil, where Orkut is still dominant, it was a different story. Those users didn’t mind the slowness, Mayer said (though she didn’t elaborate as to why they didn’t care). As a result, it took off, and even today it’s still the dominant social network.
Mayer noted that it took a little bit of time, but eventually Google was able to scale Orkut for its traffic surge. But by then it was probably already too late in the U.S., Mayer indicated.
Michael kept trying to get Mayer to say that in Google’s effort to play catch up in social in the U.S. they should buy Twitter or even Facebook. Again, she wouldn’t do that. She gushed about Twitter (which she said she uses daily), and she said she thought Facebook has a different mentality than what Google is trying to do with social.
Mayer also said that Google remains committed to Orkut — at least in Brazil and India where again, it’s big. “We’re pretty happy with it,” she said.
Orkut is a social networking service owned and operated by Google. Although Orkut is less popular in the United States than competing social networks like Facebook and MySpace, it is one of the most visited websites in India and Brazil. Originally hosted in California, in August 2008 Google announced that Orkut will be fully managed and operated in Brazil, by Google Brazil, in the city of Belo Horizonte.
Google provides search and advertising services, which together aim to organize and monetize the world’s information. In addition to its dominant search engine, it offers a plethora of online tools and platforms including: Gmail, Maps, YouTube, and Google+, the company’s extension into the social space. Most of its Web-based products are free, funded by Google’s highly integrated online advertising platforms AdWords and AdSense. Google promotes the idea that advertising should be highly targeted and relevant to users thus providing...
Marissa Mayer is CEO of Yahoo. Previously as a VP at Google, Marissa Mayer led the product management and engineering efforts of Google’s local, mobile, and contextual discovery products including Google Maps, Google Maps for Mobile, Local Search, Google Earth, Street View, Latitude and more. At 36 years old, she was also the youngest member of Google’s executive operating committee. During her 12 years at Google, Marissa led product management and design efforts for Google web search, images, news,...