Sorry to resurrect this thread, but I thought it could be useful/informative to share a brief review of its history and collect the relevant bits and pieces together, since I was doing this for myself anyway.
Though I lamented the death of Google Reader - it was so useful
and thus had a high utility value for me - I did not lament the death of Google Wave. Having given Wave a pretty good "suck-it-and see", I found it of no real/potential use (this was after trialling it on a collaborative side project with @superboyac
So when Google Reader was killed off, I decided to find out what had happened to Wave, just out of curiosity. Well, in short, after being released as Open-source under the name Apache Wave
, work seems to have halted quite soon thereafter.
Google Wave was based on Etherpad
, which Google acquired and shut down, with the Etherpad software being released as Open-source.
Etherpad was a pretty nifty and unique tool, and I have used it - or branches of it - on separate collaborative bits of document-writing. Etherpad projects are alive and well and quite active as you can see from here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etherpad
A perspective on what actually happened to Etherpad and Wave is covered in this summary on Hacker News, from Aaron Iba, cofounder and former CEO of EtherPad:The strange story of etherpad
(Copied below sans
aaroniba 841 days ago | link | parent
Cofounder and former CEO of EtherPad here. I appreciate your kind words about our product. Allow me to clarify some aspects of the story.
First, we knew etherpad was more than a toy. We knew people were using it for real work. We had paying customers and thousands of dollars a month in revenue. (Not a lot of revenue, but decent evidence that etherpad was more than a toy).
Second, the relationship between etherpad and appjet is much different from how you characterize it. AppJet was a failing idea. We had like no users. We had spent over a year building this developer platform and we had practically zero developers actually using it. It clearly wasn't working. We were ecstatic when etherpad took off. After etherpad took off, we shut down appjet.com and focused our entire company on etherpad. appjet.com redirected to etherpad.com. It felt great to have a product that people were actually using!
Third, we never thought the Wave product was better than the etherpad product. However, the Wave vision was pretty awesome. Lars' narrative excited a lot of people when he delivered the announcement at Google IO '09. When we met with him, we were dazzled by his vision and the team's optimism. Perhaps we were naive.
The decision to sell to Google was one of the toughest decisions I and my cofounders ever had to wrestle with in our lives. We were excited by the Wave vision though we saw the flaws in the product. The Wave team told us about how they wanted our help making wave simpler and more like etherpad, and we thought we could help with that, though in the end we were unsuccessful at making wave simpler. We were scared of Google as a competitor: they had more engineers and more money behind this project, yet they were running it much more like an independent startup than a normal big-company department. The Wave office was in Australia and had almost total autonomy. And finally, after 1.5 years of being on the brink of failure with AppJet, it was tempting to be able to declare our endeavor a success and provide a decent return to all our investors who had risked their money on us.
In the end, our decision to join Wave did not work out as we had hoped. The biggest lessons learned were that having more engineers and money behind a project can actually be more harmful than helpful, so we were wrong to be scared of Wave as a competitor for this reason. It seems obvious in hindsight, but at the time it wasn't. Second, I totally underestimated how hard it would be to iterate on the Wave codebase. I was used to rewriting major portions of software in a single all-nighter. Because of the software development process Wave was using, it was practically impossible to iterate on the product. I should have done more diligence on their specific software engineering processes, but instead I assumed because they seemed to be operating like a startup, that they would be able to iterate like a startup. A lot of the product problems were known to the whole Wave team, but we were crippled by a large complex codebase built on poor technical choices and a cumbersome engineering process that prevented fast iteration.
I'm grateful for the many lessons learned through the whole experience. And I'm hopeful that the same software engineering and product skills that produced etherpad, combined with the many valuable lessons learned through the Google acquisition, will be able to produce even better products in the future. My cofounder David Greenspan and I have both left Google, so we are not, as you say, stuck in the vortex.
If you have more specific questions, I'd be happy to provide additional clarification.
(There are comments/discussion following this, at the link.)
The announcement and presentation of Wave is caught in this YouTube video: Google Wave Developer Preview at Google I/O 2009
The players in that presentation are:
- Vic Gundotra, Google Vice President, Engineering (apparently still with Google).
- Lars Rasmussen, Google, Engineering Team Leader (apparently now at Facebook).
- Stephanie Hannon, Google, Project Manager (apparently now at Facebook).
- Jens Rasmussen, Google, Engineering Team Leader (apparently still at Google?).
Here is the transcript to the above presentation: Wave 2009 Presentation.txt (93.3 kB - downloaded 169 times.)
In the transcript there are a number of what I refer to as BS/buzzwords, clichés and alarm triggers, including, for example:
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