Google VP Bradley Horowitz Talks Buzz’s Future, Gmail Innovation, And More
by Jason Kincaid
Last night dozens of entrepreneurs and investors met up in Palo Alto for Startup2Startup, a program founded by Dave McClure and Leonard Speiser that’s meant to help new entrepreneurs connect with their peers, and perhaps meet some potential investors. Each month, Startup2Startup invites a seasoned entrepreneur or tech executive to speak to the attendees; this month’s guest was Google VP Product for Google Apps Bradley Horowitz, who is charged with managing a big chunk of Google’s services, including Docs, Gmail, Calendar, Voice, and more. We’ve embedded the full video of the talk below.
During his talk, Horowitz spoke at length about Google’s new Apps Marketplace, which allows businesses using Google Apps to easily sign up for a variety of third party services like TripIt and Aviary, directly linking them to their Google accounts. He then sat down for a fireside chat with Dave McClure, who asked him about a variety of issues pertaining to Buzz, Gmail, and other topics.
Here are some of my notes from the fireside chat:
Horowitz says the Buzz team accomplished “extraordinary” feats in the first 48 hours after Buzz’s release to deal with the initial concerns
The launch of Buzz and the experiences of the team are extending not just to the Buzz and Gmail teams, but to all of Google as they think about the opportunity that social brings.
Google is thinking about how to make following less Boolean (either on or off). Wouldn’t it be great if there was a personal relevance, that allows me to get the parts of your life that I’m interested in, and filter out other parts. Google is really good at relevance and ranking. It’s one of our core competencies, and it’s something we want to bring to this space.”
“I ought to be able to follow nodes in an attention graph that aren’t just people, but imagine following a product, a place, a brand.” Twitter has done a great job at this in the sense that their profile is a proxy for an entity.
“Ultimately we’d like to provide something that is a tool for managing attention.” There are too many inboxes (several Email, social network silos, etc.).
Through the course of 2010, the lines between Google’s Docs products will continue to blur as they work better in tandem.
With regard to payments, Google has a lot of different marketplaces (Apps Marketplace, Android, etc.) and there’s an opportunity for Google to re-factor them, build more trust with users, allow users to pay in situ. There’s also opportunities in being open, allowing users to pay with whatever methodology they’re comfortable with.
With regard to policing applications on the App Marketplace (users on Google Apps can now hand their data over to third party apps using OAuth, and there’s a risk that they could be hacked or do something malicious), Horowitz says that Google “hasn’t ironed out all the eventualities in this process that might occur”. But administrators are given choice over what data they are handing over. It’s possible that this data could be abused/hacked. “In many ways you’re only as strong as the weakest link in the chain.” Companies will have to establish reputations with how they handle data and get better at disclosure. “We need to get better as an industry with helping users understand the flow of data”.
Number two app on the Apps Marketplace is Aviary, the free image editor, which surprised Horowitz
App Stores on mobile seem obvious, and until there’s a way to compile for all these devices, there’s going to be these different flavors of App Store. The opportunity to get beyond that is HTML5 and web apps.
Bradley Horowitz – Bio
Bradley oversees Google’s communications products and social applications including Google Talk, GrandCentral, Blogger and Picasa. Before joining Google, Bradley led Yahoo’s advanced development division, which developed new products such as Yahoo! Pipes, and drove the acquisition of products such as Flickr and MyBlogLog.
Bradley Horowitz is the former vice president of Yahoo’s product strategy group. He led Yahoo’s efforts in building innovative products and technologies across the company. Horowitz drove innovation and leveraged Yahoo’s platform to deliver compelling Yahoo products and services to a community of 500 million users. In addition, he was responsible for the company’s initiative to open up its platform which included overseeing the Yahoo Developer Network (YDN). Prior to that, he managed a portfolio of products for Yahoo including media search, desktop search and the Yahoo Toolbar.
Prior to joining Yahoo, Horowitz served as both the chief technical officer and the vice president of engineering for the Virage division of Autonomy, where he was responsible for the technical delivery of five major product lines. Prior to Autonomy, he founded Virage, the company widely recognized as the market creator and leader for advanced media indexing and analysis. Horowitz helped grow the company from “a garage startup” through its NASDAQ IPO.
Horowitz was a PhD candidate at the MIT Media Lab. While at the Media Lab, he worked on a number of topics related to computer vision, graphics and image processing, which resulted in a patented new technique for the recovery of structure, motion and camera parameters from video sequences.
Horowitz holds an MS in Media Science from MIT and a BS in Computer Science from the University of Michigan.