It was revealed that some of the Oyster team will move to Google, fueling speculation that Google has acquired Oyster and might be angling for a subscription service of its own—a possibility that has tantalized industry observers. But sources said that Google has no immediate plans for an e-book subscription service, and that the company worked a deal to pick up some of Oyster’s talent, and to otherwise “soften the blow” from its failure.

Launched in 2013, Oyster offered subscribers access to more than one million e-books for a monthly fee of $9.99. The service drew praise from readers and gained traction with publishers (including three of the Big Five) by offering a model that paid publishers their full retail cut for e-books read by subscribers. But Oyster’s failure has amplified criticism that the subscription model is not sustainable, following on the heels of the July closure of Entitle, a similar service, and a recent announcement by Oyster’s main rival, Scribd, that it is scaling back offerings in certain genres.