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.
Gundotra 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.”