Ex-Googler claims Google+ was a failure from day one, tweets out his story

Morgan Knutson explains his ordeal with Google+ and how he was tricked into working for it.

It was startling to hear that Google had, without ceremony, pulled the plug on Google+, but after their explanation, the reasoning made sense. Despite being plugged into just about everything that Google owned and operated, it never really took off.

If you missed it, Google shutdown Google+ when they discovered that user data was leaked to third-party developers. People were outraged and lawsuits have been filed, but the lack of impact that Google+ had means that it's facing only a fraction of the uproar that Facebook faced when it was determined that data was stolen from there.

While Google did get caught for failing to inform users (those who still used the network) about a security bug, it tried to make up for it by shutting down the entire social network altogether. Simply put, Google failed to acknowledge to users that there was a major security flaw and might have exposed user data of up to 5,00,000 accounts. Google claims it had fixed the flaw in March 2018, but it only disclosed the same after a report by the Wall Street Journal brought it to light.

But the Google+ drama doesn't end there.

You can manually delete your Google+ account.

You can manually delete your Google+ account.

An ex-Googler has more to add to the Google+ story and has tweeted out his version of events, where he describes the horrors of working on the platform and about what he thinks of Google as a company.

Morgan Allan Knutson, who is currently based in San Francisco, is the EVP of Design at Zero a financial technology company.

According to his tweets, Knutson’s stint with Google took place between 2011-2012 and he claims in a tweet that “the Google experience is different for everyone”.

Knutson had been working for several non-profit organisations before he got a call from Google and decided to give it a try. Despite applying to work for Chrome, he was then pushed into working for Google+ instead. To make things worse he realised that he was not the only one and that he was flanked by first-time job seekers from the Ivy League.

Out there, Knutson witnessed SVP Vic Gundotra, who was heading Google+, in action. As it turned out, Google actually rewarded employees with heavy bonuses for integrating Google+'s features in other products. It didn't matter what else they were doing.

Knutson was not too happy with what he made at Google either and the same goes for his designation, which was UI Designer Level II. While things seemed fine here, the worst was yet to come.

Placed in the Google Photos team (absorbed by Plus) Knutson’s first project was to redesign the photos lightbox. After completing the job at hand, he went about the floor trying to help others in the team, getting to know what they were up to and as he discovered, things were “disjointed” or “siloed”, all of which he felt lacked vision.

According to him, “None of it (code) had been made with the consideration of all the products in the Google ecosystem” with all of the designers working in their silos with the only objective being to finish off tasks.

A few months into his job after his first boss left, Knutson realised that things weren’t crystal clear. In short, he had the smallest idea about who he should be collaborating with.

The problem was Real Time Communication (RTC) which took place using Chat Moles. These were the pop-ups that would let Gmail users chat with someone. The problem was that it wasn't well integrated. This can be summarised by the tweet below.

In the vacation that followed, Knutson worked through it instead of actually going on a vacation. In that time, he came up with a new chat system.

While his immediate boss (whom he refers to as 'Greg') liked it, the executive responsible to take things forward did not. The reason? It turned out that another team had spent the last 4 months building a Chrome extension that did something similar. As per his tweets, the executive did not want Google+ to have such a chat feature, which would have allowed anyone to have a conversation no matter where they were. This again shows how disorganised things were.

Upon showing his ideas to another team that was lead by Andy Hertzfeld, someone agreed to build a prototype of the chat platform. Once ready, the project came to be known as North Star.

While then SVP Gundotra gave a go-ahead to North Star, not everyone was okay with it but saw opposition from another designer on the team who had worked on Google+ since its inception. Despite all his hard work, Knutson’s efforts went in vain, the designer who opposed the idea became Knutson’s next manager.

Life moved on it became pretty clear how Google+ was a massive waste of resources. To top it off, more resources were hired for the redesign of Google+.

Once the redesign was launched, Knutson left the team and began looking for other projects at Google. And as he discovered, not all teams were equal, or in short, as bad as Google+.

Eventually, he got an offer from Dropbox and he claims that it was one of his best jobs ever.

Morgan Knutson soon co-founded shift.com and is currently working on another startup.

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