Jonathan Sposato

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.

Sposato is the last of the three Picnik founders to leave Google, following the departures of Mike Harrington and Darrin Massena who left more than a year ago.

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.

Previously on GeekWireWith Picnik set to shut down, former Picnik engineers scratch itch with PicMonkeyThe Picnik is over: Google plans to shutter popular photo editing service, other products

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  • Guest

    “In the words of Sposato, the company decided to put “more wood behind fewer arrows.”

    Maybe he should of have sold to MS where smart business decisions like this would never be made.

    • Pieter

      The big clean up at Google makes sense. Not enough focus and too many projects/products. Picnic is just one of many to get the ax. Not smart you say? To the contrary. Picnic adds little to Google’s ability to profile you. And it needs more detailed profiles so it can sell better targeted AdWord campaigns and compete with Facebook which can target in much more detail.

      Microsoft only making smart business decisions? Really? Like Windows ME and Vista? How many billions did Bings’s lousy 5% marketshare cost again?

      • CWE

        I think you missed the major dig at Microsoft. Granted, he missed a comma, making it a confusing sentence.

      • Guest

        Learn how to read.

  • Guest

    Congratulations to Jonathan and happy trails! I look forward to his next big thing.

  • Guest

    How did you resist titling this “Life at Google no picnik”?

  • Guest

    Good luck Jonathan!

  • Nick White

    Good luck Jonathan.

    Wouldn’t being “not really a big company guy” harm valuations and potential acquisitions of future Sposato companies? I’m surprised he’d say that regardless of how true it is.

  • John Haley

    Congratulations JS!  Look forward to seeing your next creation!

  • Aaron Evans

    Hope he’s still got some startup chops left in him.

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