Max Levchin, the founder of recently acquired Slide and the co-founder of PayPal can now tell his parents he’s not evil. Levchin has been named the newest Google VP of engineering. This comes on the heals of Google’s $182 million acquisition of the aforementioned Slide, a company that Levchin founded and was CEO of for nearly 6 years. Slide was a social application company, and it was once valued at over $500 million back in 2008.
He will be given the same senior position ranking as Vic Gundotra, and will report to Urs Holze according to Inside Facebook. This is undoubtedly a ‘social’ play and a strong one at that. Let’s not forget, at Slide Levchin helped build some of the most popular Facebook applications in SuperPoke, FunWall and Top Friends. Facebook now has over 500 million users, but the biggest number that should scare Google is of that 500+ million, 150 million are already utilizing the mobile platform. That can be seen as a viable threat to the Google empire and here is why: mobile is where user consumption habits are headed and its a vertical that no one has perfected yet. For a company trying to break into social networking, Levchin makes for a perfect fit.
At the same time that Google acquired Slide, they demoed an earlier iteration of its forthcoming Facebook competitor dubbed ‘Google Me’. Since its changing more often than Brett Favre’s retirement status, ‘Google Me’ is a hard hog to tie down. It’s best described as a mishmash of all of Google’s current social products mixed into one dashboard.
Can Slides technology and experienced team help make Google more social? For that answer only time will tell, however make no mistake, Google seems to think so. Tag team the acquisition of Slide, Levchin’s new roll within Google, the $100-$200 million investment in social gaming company Zynga, confirmed launch of Google Games end of this year and the previously mentioned ‘Google Me’ — it would be safe to say that Google is taking social seriously….times 10 over.
The senior level new hires are stacking up for Google around social products and/or technologies, so the PR angle is pretty simple. It looks like social is going to be a big part of the next evolution of Google. Nothing scares the smaller kids on the playground more than when the bully gets bigger. Hey, at least the bully isn’t evil. Right?