Google's sale of SketchUp to Trimble felt a little strange and as TechCrunch points out today it's actually the first time Google sold one of its popular assets. Google bought SketchUp developer @Last Software for $45 million in 2006, and according to the site's sources the application was sold to Trimble at a profit.
This could signal a sea change in how Larry Page executes his vision for a leaner, more focused Google. The company frequently shuts down extraneous products, but that requires redistribution of their team members internally. If it’s now willing to sell them instead, Google could streamline around the theme of making user’s lives more convenient, while making some money at the same time.
It wasn’t that SketchUp wasn’t working. It had 30 million activations since joining Google as part of @Last Software in March 2006. But it just didn’t fit with the direction Google is heading in. It’s a relatively niche product for architects and the construction industry, game developers, and filmmakers. It doesn’t fit with last year’s theme of inherently social product that could be tied to Google+, or this year’s plan to simplify everyone’s lives.