Paul Adams, the Google user experience researcher who critiqued Facebook in a lengthy report over the summer, is leaving the search giant to join them. His report is said to have accelerated the Groups product, which launched earlier this fall after Facebook went into “Lockdown” to finish it.
The move is a blow for Google as it undertakes a radical effort to counter Facebook’s growing influence across the web. In addition to a big social project led by Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz, the team the company acquired from Slide is also beginning to work on its own creation.
Adams published a widely read report on the social network’s weaknesses five months ago, arguing that it didn’t do enough to help people manage the distinct social groups in their lives.
He found that people typically have between four and six friend groups and only between two and six “close” friends, he said. College friends don’t necessarily mix with work friends, who don’t necessarily mix with a person’s family.
“People have multiple facets of identity,” Adams wrote.“There is not one proﬁle that ﬁts for all the people in their life. People appear differently to different audiences. They act one way with their family, they act another way in work, and they act another way with their best friends.”
After Adams’ work became public, Facebook later went on “Lockdown” over the summer and used that time to finish the Groups product, which had already been in the works.
On the day Groups launched, Soleio Cuervo, a designer there, tweeted in response to Adams’ report, “Google researcher said we had a problem: http://sole.io/fbg Not anymore: http://facebook.com/groups This was how I spent Summer 2010.”
And now, they won’t be rivals anymore.