Google+ is an orphan.
Vic Gundotra, head of Google+, is leaving Google after eight years. He made the announcement on Google+ on Thursday 25th April: “I have been incredibly fortunate to work with the amazing people of Google. I don’t believe there is a more talented and passionate collection of people anywhere else.” Why, then, is he moving on? No solid reasons have been given as yet. “Now is the time for a new journey,” says Gundotra, “but this isn’t the day to talk about that. This is a day to celebrate the last eight years.”
Google+ has always been something of an easy target among social networks. Naturally, the news of Gundotra’s departure has prompted a number of opinion pieces on the subject, with TechCrunch decreeing Google+ “the walking dead” and Mashable’s Chris Taylor defending the network, describing it in turn as a “wonderfully weird town” and “a beehive from which the beekeeper has been trying to extract too much honey way too fast.”
Many see Google+ as kind of an intrusive nuisance that they are forced to engage with when they want to access content on a Google-owned platform like YouTube. But the fact is, Google+ does have an incredibly passionate any loyal user base, says Taylor: “Google+ has grown into a thriving community, or rather a complex and interlocking set of introverted communities.”
“Today’s news has no impact on our Google+ strategy,” claimed a Google spokesperson following Gundotra’s announcement. “We have an incredibly talented team that continue to build great user experiences across Google+, Hangouts and Photos.”
Gundotra leaves the company just as plans to restructure the Google+ team come into effect, with a number of the Google Hangouts staff being moved to Android. “Talent will be shifting away from the Google+ kingdom and towards Android,” say TechCrunch, although this is “not necessarily due to Gundotra’s departure.”
Perhaps, then, Google+ will be less of a party crasher and learn to refine its technology offering in a more integrated way for Android customers. To borrow TechCrunch’s phrase, it might just be Google+’s destiny to be “a backbone rather than a front-end service.”