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Oyster, a Netflix for Books, Is Shutting Down. But Most of Its Team Is Heading to Google.

Next up: Going head to head with Amazon?

Oyster Books

Oyster, a company that provides a Netflix-like book subscription service, is shutting down. And most of its team is heading over to Google.

In a blog post on Monday, Oyster’s founders said they were “taking steps to sunset” the company’s service, which launched in 2012. “We believe more than ever that the phone will be the primary reading device globally over the next decade,” they wrote. “Looking forward, we feel this is best seized by taking on new opportunities to fully realize our vision for e-books.”

Those opportunities may happen at Google. A rep for the search giant confirmed that “a portion” of the Oyster team has joined Google Play Books, its online store for books. People familiar with the company say that CEO Eric Stromberg and co-founders Andrew Brown and Willem Van Lancker are part of the team joining Google.

Google is resistant to the notion that it bought Oyster. But sources said it will end up paying investors, who put a reported $17 million into the company, for the right to hire some of its staff. In other words, this is an “acqhire.”

Google went through this sort of exercise recently. In July, the company swooped in when Homejoy, a startup connecting customers with professional cleaners online, retired. Google hired around 20 of Homejoy’s engineers, as Re/code first reported. Later that month, Google launched an advertising product for professional services that looked remarkably similar to Homejoy’s model.

So does Google want to launch its own version of Oyster’s book subscription? The company declined to comment. If it does launch a service, it will end up competing with Amazon, which launched its own $10-a-month e-book service in July 2014.

This article originally appeared on

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