The Rise And Fall Of Orkut: Google’s Decade-Long Social Media Experiment

On Monday, Google announced the end of its first foray into social networking, Orkut. September 30, 2014 will be the 10-year-old network’s final day. 

ReadWrite has been covering underdog Orkut since its invention. We followed its rise to dominance in India and Brazil and its ever-constant (if somewhat understated) battle with Facebook for the eyeballs of international social media users. 

We took a peek into the archives to highlight some major moments in Orkut history. 

Orkut Through The Ages

September 2006: In our Social Networking Faceoff, we declared Orkut the second largest social network on the Internet, second only to MySpace. Also that month, we discovered that 70% of Orkut users are Brazilian


Orkut in 2007

May 2009: Facebook began battling Orkut in earnest. Noticing Orkut’s presence in India, Facebook became conveniently available in Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, and all other Indian languages. The announcement came after Zuckerberg made a trip to India to talk with technologists.

June 2009: Orkut remained the most popular social network in India and Brazil.

February 2009: Orkut made the news when the Supreme Court of India denied legal protection to a teen being sued over comments he made on Orkut. The case set a global precedent for how far freedom of speech extends over social media.

August 2010: Google began marketing Orkut as a place you could limit what you shared to certain groups of friends. Sound familiar? It’s the same theory behind Google+ Circles

October 2010: Even as Facebook was growing in adoption all over the world, Orkut held on steadfastly to its Brazilian majority. Orkut must have really liked futbol.

June 2011: Google launches Google+, making it look as if the company saw the writing on the wall when it came to Orkut. It may or may not be coincidence that the shutdown of Orkut was announced almost exactly three years after the launch of Google+.


Orkut in 2010

September 2011: Orkut owned 43% of the social networking market in Brazil. 

January 2012: After a lot of effort, including Mark Zuckerberg making a trip to Brazil to spread the Facebook gospel, Facebook finally overtook Orkut in the one country it still dominated.

June 2014: Our first time mentioning Orkut since Facebook overtook it in Brazil. Unlike the dropped bomb that was Google Reader, Orkut enjoyed a slow decline. Now that it’s gone, Google said it will devote its “energy and resources” on YouTube, Blogger and Google+. 

So long, Orkut! We’re not sure anyone is going to miss you.

Lead image “Children of Brasil” by Flickr user Alobos Life

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