Joseph Smarr, CTO of Comcast-owned Plaxo (s CMCSA), announced today he is joining Google (s GOOG) to lead “a new company-wide focus on the future of the Social Web.” Smarr, who said he will start at Google in late January, has become highly influential on open social web topics even as Plaxo has stayed mostly out of the spotlight, for instance serving on the OpenID Foundation and OpenSocial Foundation board, giving a talk at events like Google I/O (embedded below) and the OpenID Summit, and co-authoring a “Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web.”
Smarr had joined Plaxo as its first employee eight years ago, and said he took the job at Google for its promise to help evolve the web.
Getting the future of the Social Web right—including identity, privacy, data portability, messaging, real-time data, and a distributed social graph—is just as important, and the industry is at a critical phase where the next few years may well determine the platform we live with for decades to come.
As an aside, I attended a talk at the recent Supernova conference during which Google VP product management Bradley Horowitz spoke of an internal Google conversation about prospective hires in which a colleague warned him “It’s better that we don’t hire these clueful people.” The idea was that smart folks could better help advise, push and regulate Google from outside of the company rather than within. I remember wondering if they were talking about Smarr — well, if they were, it seems they changed their minds.