Google buys Angstro and hires founder to help build social networking service
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Highly respected entrepreneur and Internet researcher Rohit Khare has sold his company Angstro to Google and taken a job at the Internet giant to help build its social networking product Google Me.
He is sitting near Slide’s Max Levchin, who was also recently hired to help lead the effort to counter the exploding popularity of Facebook.
Khare made the announcement that he had shut down Angstro and joined Google in a note on his company’s website. Khare has created a number of products that will be very useful to Google, including one that exports information from Facebook and other social networks. Angstro built a service that scoured the web and the blogosphere for news about your friends from sites like Facebook and LinkedIn and delivered it to you.
With his vision for an “open, interoperable social networks,” Khare’s a good fit for Google, which has championed that approach over Facebook’s “walled garden.”
Khare joined Google because he was sold by vice president of engineering Vic Gundotra’s pledge that Google is serious about social, a person familiar with the situation said.
“He has built a lot of interesting pieces that would be useful to anyone building a social network,” the person said.
“I’m looking forward to working on that in my new role at Google,” Khare wrote.
A Google spokesman confirmed the acquisition but declined to comment on Khare’s role at the company. Khare could not immediately be reached for comment.
Google is quietly putting together the pieces of the puzzle so it can more effectively compete for the eyeballs and dollars that are increasingly drawn to social networking.
The question is exactly how Google plans to do that. Gigaom’s Om Malik’s blog post this week, “All Hail Gmail,” suggests that Gmail is “the most viable launch pad for new Google services.”
And that makes the most sense. Google has been in discussions with top developers to offer their games on the new service including Zynga, in which Google now has a financial stake. But this play from Google is part of a much broader initiative that’s all about communication.
If Google mounts a full-blown communications platform, that could give Facebook a run for its money. Clearly, the battle for the social web is not yet over.
-- Jessica Guynn