The decision had little to do with consumers — the RSS reader was very popular with a core set of power users — and much more to do with corporate politics. At Google, Chief Executive Larry Page and his inner circle of lieutenants, known as the “L Team,” simply did not view Google Reader as an important strategic priority. Internally, it became obvious that despite Google Reader’s loyal fan base, working on the project was not going to get the attention of Page, several sources close to the company told BuzzFeed.
Google teams, like those at other tech companies, have product managers, but much of the company’s leadership comes from its engineers. As a result, many product decisions come from and are executed by engineers, as was the case with Google Reader. Eventually, as Google Reader’s importance declined internally, the engineering leads — the de facto leaders of the project — were moved onto more high-priority projects. (By the time Reader was shut down, the team didn’t even have a product manager or full-time engineer, according to AllThingsD.)
Google Reader began, like other Google products, as an experiment run under Google’s policy that employees devote 20% of their time to personal projects of interest. Adwords, a product that drives the lion’s share of Google’s $30 Billion in revenue began much the same way.
There’s been all sorts of discussion around the net as to why Google was shuttering reader. I had heard Google did not have a full product team, including privacy professionals to make certain the necessary privacy laws, protocols, an internal guidelines were followed. Others, including Google, talked of a decline in usage. Google also suggested that it was focusing on its core products such as Android, Chrome, Google+, and Search and eliminating products beyond that core.
But, Lynley reports, “the major factor is a bit simpler: No one wanted to devote the time and energy necessary to keep the project alive because it wasn’t going to get them anywhere with Page.”