Former Google+ Designer: ‘We F*cked Up!’


Meet Chris Messina. 

He’s a guy whose palatial estate may be large enough to contain his ego: he was a lead designer at this start-up called Google. In fact, he was one of the user experience masterminds behind Google+.

(Not for nothing, but dude is credited by many with creating the hashtag.)

No matter how much Google tries to force us to use its own network, the project has been a failure by any real measure. Now Messina is blogging about its demise in very unflattering (and profane) terms.

On Medium, Messina exercised his nimble fingers and showcased his dexterity with a 3,200-word diatribe on how bad Google+ really is. To summarize, he essentially confirms what every user and ignorer already believes — it’s Facebook-lite, and that’s insulting to the young man in the hoodie who invented the thing.

“Lately, I just feel like Google+ is confused and adrift at sea. It’s so far behind, how can it possibly catch up?”

Almost everything this company touches turns to Bitcoin, but Google+ is a bit like its unwanted child:

“I f—ed up. So has Google.”

G+ failMessina discusses the project’s development and combustion in colorful potty-mouth tirades. The question: why go scorched earth on the company that has made you a rich man?

“When I thought about what motivated me to lob this snarkbomb, I realized I was looking for a reaction. I wanted some kind of defiant response to questions that’ve recently bugged me — What’s going on with Google+? Where is it headed? What the fuck is it for, anyway?”

Evidently, Google+ was created because of jealousy — someone in the great Googler nation didn’t like the fact that “digital identity” was being “determined by one company.” That’s high praise:

“Sure, Google gives you controls to set your ads preferences, but this framing is all wrong. Whereas Pinterest helps you express your aspirational self, Google pigeonholes you into what you already are, based on your previous search activity.

This is where improving the data that Google has about you  —  in turn trusting Google as a steward of that data — changes the nature of the conversation by making it less about “privacy” and more about empowerment. While some people will freak out (as they always do), this would be a bold, productive, future-forward direction to take.

This piece should be Exhibit A in case you ever need to tell a stubborn client that they really do not need to “plus it up.”