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.