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Slide’s Levchin takes lead role in Google’s social efforts

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We told you earlier this week that Slide executive Keith Rabois is joining Square, the mobile payments startup run by Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter.

Max Levchin, the PayPal co-founder who was chief executive of Slide, was recruited by Google to become a vice president of engineering and take a lead role in Google’s social media efforts. Google bought Slide earlier this month for $182 million plus $46 million in retention bonuses.

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We requested an interview with Levchin a few weeks ago but were told that he’s not talking to the media at the moment.

But the backstory is this: Google co-founder Sergey Brin championed the acquisition of Slide and will be working closely with Levchin. The challenge of trying to help Google counter the explosive growth of Facebook by leading a new initiative called “Google Me” intrigued Levchin, who relished the idea of building something so massive and perceived as being so difficult. Levchin has been at Google’s Mountain View headquarters since the Slide deal closed.

Google did pick up technology from Slide, including its popular slideshow product. But Google was really interested in Levchin, a hard-core senior engineer with major social networking credibility. As one person close to the deal said, “There just aren’t that many people who have that combination.” And it’s a combination that carries weight in the engineering-centric Google world.

Brin’s backing and the big title are no guarantee of success at Google, which has fumbled efforts in social media. Google could benefit from Levchin’s talents.

Stay tuned.

-- Jessica Guynn


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