Google closed the lid on Picnik last Friday, shutting down the popular online photo editing service that it acquired two years ago. With the decision, Picnik co-founder and former CEO Jonathan Sposato has stepped down from Google. His last day also was Friday.
“I don’t know if this is the right analogy. But it is a little bit like the captain of a ship not abandoning ship until all of the passengers are off,” said Sposato in explaining the timing of his departure. “There was something that felt right about sticking around to the last day.”
Sposato worked in management roles in Google’s Fremont office, and remains the only entrepreneur to have sold two companies to the search giant. (Picnik and Phatbits).
And while Sposato described Google as an “amazing company,” he also said it was time to move on.
“I am not really a big company kind of guy,” he said. “I am really an entrepreneur at heart and so it is time to change gears once again, and do some other things and give some of my other businesses and investments more time.”
One of those investments is GeekWire. Sposato, who serves as GeekWire’s chairman, plans to play a more active role in the development of the year-old technology news site going forward. “I think there is a huge opportunity to do a tech news site that is completely different from what has been done before,” he said.
In his role as an angel investor, the 45-year-old also holds stakes in companies such as EveryMove, Vizify and PokitDok. He’s also a part-owner of the Spitfire Bar & Grill in Seattle.
Sposato hasn’t ruled out doing his own startup, saying he’s tinkering with some very early-stage ideas related to residential energy consumption. “The key thing is that I need the time to be able to think about those things, and leaving Google gives me that time,” he said.
Google’s decision to close Picnik mystified and angered many long-time users of the service, with more than 1,800 comments on the blog post announcing the closure. Sposato said that he’ll personally miss the Picnik users who had developed a strong bond with the easy-to-use online photo editor.
“The shutdown of Picnik … I’d just say that I have some emotions around it,” said Sposato.
Google made the decision in January to focus on fewer products, streamlining its lineup and putting engineering horsepower on higher-value offerings. In the words of Sposato, the company decided to put “more wood behind fewer arrows.”
“It made sense for them to thin the herd, and they operate at such a huge scale that you can be a pretty ginormously successful Web service at scale, like a Picnik, and still not make the cut,” said Sposato.