Google Sells SketchUp (Wait, Google Sold Something?)

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Harry McCracken /

Google’s “spring cleaning,” which involves the company reassessing stuff that’s not core to its activities, continues. It’s selling SketchUp, a really nifty program for creating 3D  models of buildings, to Trimble Navigation. (Google bought the tiny startup that created the software back in 2006.)

It sounds like good news for everyone involved, including SketchUp fans: Trimble says that it will continue to offer a free version, and that it will work with Google to maintain the 3D Warehouse of models, which contains vast quantities of real and imaginary creations.

Selling a successful — if specialized — product isn’t something that Google does often. In fact, I can’t think of any other examples that are similar to the SketchUp situation. It’s rare for large technology companies to sell anything, ever — generally speaking, the products they acquire or build either thrive or die. And when sales do happen, it’s often because a company is offloading a disaster at a fire-sale price.

When tech companies lose interest in something they own, they often abandon happy customers, even when they probably could have found a buyer. (Exhibit A: Cisco’s sudden execution of the Flip camcorder.) It’s nice to see Google moving on without leaving anyone in the lurch.