Vic Gundotra Leaving Google, What's It Mean for Google+?

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Vic Gundotra, the driving force behind the Google+ platform, has announced he is leaving Google, which has many people pondering the future of Google+. Gundotra, who has been with Google for eight years, is leaving the company effective immediately.

The new head of Google+ will be David Besbris, currently Google's VP of engineering, although Google hasn't yet confirmed any other changes. Besbris has also been with the Google+ team since its beginnings, and worked closely with Gundotra. However Bradley Horowitz, vice president of product management for Google+, was passed over for the position, leaving many to question whether Horowitz would remain with Google.

google-plus-questionGundotra has led Google+ since the beginning, leaving many questioning whether Google would continue to invest in their version of a social media platform. Google has been struggling to gain traction on Google+, other than among those people who use it for authorship purposes. However, CEO Larry Page, wrote in a post on his own page that Google will "continue working hard to build great new experiences for the ever increasing number of Google+ fans."

Google+ was very much a newcomer to the social media market, starting with a limited release in 2011 before rolling out and then further integrating itself with related Google products, such as YouTube. TechCrunch said there will be a massive changeover at Google+, with many of the team’s talent – including those who were part of the Google+ Hangouts team – heading to Android, and with Google+ no longer being pushed for integration within everything Google.

One big change for Google+ is that there will no longer be a policy of "required" Google+ integrations for Google products, something that has become de rigueur for most product updates.

One impetus of this was that the YouTube integration with Google+ did not go well, something that the public recognized through the comments blowback, but that was also seen inside the company as a rocky move.

TechCrunch also believes that Google will transition Google+ away from being a product.

What we're hearing from multiple sources is that Google+ will no longer be considered a product, but a platform – essentially ending its competition with other social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

A Google representative has vehemently denied these claims. "Today’s news has no impact on our Google+ strategy – we have an incredibly talented team that will continue to build great user experiences across Google+, Hangouts and Photos."

Gundotra has not announced where he is heading to next, although his own Google+ post simply titled "And Then" seems to hint that he has something on the horizon:

But, now is the time for a new journey. A continuation. An "and then". I am excited about what's next. But this isn't the day to talk about that. This is a day to celebrate the past 8 years. To cry. And smile. And to look forward to the journey yet to come.

The Secret.ly app had an anonymous post last week revealing “Vic Gundotra is interviewing.”

About the author

Jennifer Slegg began as a freelance writer, and turned to search engine optimization and writing content for the web in 1998. She has created numerous content-rich sites in niche markets and works with many clients on content creation, strategy, and monetization. She writes about many search industry and social media topics on her blog, JenniferSlegg.com and is a frequent speaker at search industry conferences on SEO, content marketing and content monetization. Acknowledged as the leading expert on the Google AdSense contextual advertising program, she runs JenSense, a blog dealing exclusively with contextual advertising. She is also the founder and editor of The SEM Post. She is known by many as her handle Jenstar on various webmaster forums.