The Cost of Scaling…

Via @Charlesarthur, a twitter thread from @nickbaum, one time project manager of Google Reader:

I realized this weekend that it’s my fault that @Google shut down Google Reader. /1

I was the PM from 06-07. We launched a major redesign that significantly changed our growth rate… but didn’t take us to “Google scale”. /2

I used to think it was unfair and short-sighted that Google didn’t give us enough resources to execute to our full potential. /3

… but as a founder, I know resources aren’t something you are owed or deserve. They’re something you earn. /4

I should have realized that not reaching ~100m actives was an existential threat, and worked to convince the team to focus 100% on that. /5

As a service, Google Reader allowed users to curate their own long form content stream by subscribing to web feeds (RSS, Atom). When it shut down, I moved my subscriptions over to, where I still read them every day.

If, as the thread above suggests, Google isn’t interested in “free”, “public” services with less than 100m – 100 million – active users, it means that “useful for some”, even if that “some” counts in the tens of millions, just won’t cut it.

Such are the economics of scale, I guess…

100. million. active. users.

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

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