Apr 25, 2014

What does Vic Gundotra’s departure from Google mean for Google+?

As a fairly heavy Google+ user, I was surprised to see that Vic Gundotra, the head of the Google+ division and the guy who pretty much developed the network, is leaving Google. His announcement was light on details, but seemed to have one of those generic “moving on to pursue other interests” vibes that you generally see when someone is asked to leave. I know that Google+ isn’t beloved by everyone, but I use it and it’s various functions, especially Photos and Hangouts, all the time. Now that I think about it, I also video conference and make calls through Google+ while I'm at my computer, so it really is the center of my online communication. Does Gundotra’s departure signal a pull back from Google+ by the company?

I dumped my Google+ account last night, and good riddance to it (though not just because of the staffing changes). I think it's doomed.

Goodbye Google+, I Wish I Never Knew You

"Google+ was doomed for a number of reasons, but the one that always stuck with me was when I read that Google CEO Larry Page had tied every employee's bonus to the success of the then fledgling social network. Money is a big motivator, especially in Silicon Valley, but Page's decree was representative of the naive perceptions of social media as some mystical power that could be wielded with the simple construction of a Facebook-esque sharing service.

The early landscape of social networking is littered with countless, forgotten products that all seemed to have the same flimsy marketing credo about connecting and sharing with friends. While those services died a relatively quick death, Google had the luxury of being a multi-billion dollar company that just happened to be suffering from some serious Zuckerberg jealousy."

There are a variety of pundit’s predictions on exactly what this departure will mean, ranging from “Google+ is dead” to viewing this as a more realistic application of resources by the company. Keep in mind, not only is Gundotra departing from the Google+ project, up to a thousand other employees are faced with their jobs being shuffled about. Much of this might simply be changes with organizational efficiency in mind - is Hangouts more effectively grouped with Android development, for example, since the majority of its use is by handset users. Personally I don’t think this will be an abandonment of Google+, although Google has shown a willingness to abandon products in the past, such as Google Reader. Google+ has millions of users which, while not as many as Facebook might enjoy, still constitutes a significant slice of the market. it also acts as a way to unify other services, such as Photos, Hangouts and, last but not least, YouTube.

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