August 27, 2014

After Its Chief’s Departure, What is the Future of Google Plus?

Vic Gundotra Google PlusEDIT

The recent departure of Google Plus chief Vic Gundotra from the company has many wondering what will become of Google’s social network.

In a Google Plus post announcing his departure, Gundotra praised the team that had helped build the social network and expressed excitement for its ongoing growth, writing:

“This is a group of people who built social at Google against the skepticism of so many. The growth of active users is staggering, and speaks to the work of this team. But it doesn’t tell you what kind of people they are. They are invincible dreamers. I love them. And I will miss them dearly.”

Even Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page seemed to remain committed to Google Plus’ ongoing development. In his own post on the social network bidding Gundotra farewell, he added:

“I really enjoy using Google Plus on a daily basis, especially the auto awesome movies which I really love sharing with my family and friends. Good luck with your next project after Google. In the meantime, we’ll continue working hard to build great new experiences for the ever increasing number of Google Plus fans.”

Despite this, however, media sources like TechCrunch insist the network is the “walking dead,” unlikely to survive Gundotra’s departure. Meanwhile, Business Insider has gone as far as to suggest Google Plus will be carved up. The idea is that teams responsible for Hangouts and other features would be reassigned or their products sent off for independent development.

At 300 million active monthly users, Google Plus is certainly nowhere near Facebook in popularity. However, those passionate about it like blogger Cendrine Marrouat insist it is much too important to its regular community to be allowed to die.

In a post at Social Slant, Marrouat explains:

“Google Plus is NOT a ghost town. Just because your friends and family are not there does not mean that it is useless. Actually, the whole purpose of Google Plus is to allow you to connect with new people who share your interests.”

Add to this the recent launch of the social network’s +Post ads. There’s also this. Google Plus recently entered the top 15 mobile apps in comScore’s ranking, Marketing Land reports.

Given all of this, it’s a bit hard to reconcile with a plan to essentially shut down or drastically scale back the social network.

The question of whether any business venture can survive the departure of its leader or founder is often discussed in entrepreneurial circles.

Despite his iconic status, for example, it isn’t too hard to imagine Facebook surviving the departure of CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Apple has already survived the death of its guiding guru Steve Jobs with seeming success.

Twitter has survived and thrived seemingly independent of the fortunes of its founders.

It remains to be seen whether Google Plus will do the same.

Image: Wikipedia

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Shawn Hessinger - Editor


Shawn Hessinger Shawn Hessinger is the Editor for Small Business Trends. He is a journalist and social media networker with more than a decade of experience in the traditional newspaper business before moving to the digital world. He was the former community manager of BizSugar and the former community editor at AllAnalytics, a site dedicated to professionals in the business intelligence and analytics community.

13 Reactions

  1. Google+ has 300 million active monthly users. Most companies would be thrilled to have numbers like that. This departure may end up being a blessing. Sometimes there is a need for new blood. New leadership might bring new ideas that could jumpstart things.

    • Really Glenn and others?
      The mass of people despise Google+, and their “growing account base” came from strong arm tactics. For example, Youtube’s enormous subscriber base was forced to sign up for Google+, most were unwilling…just go there and type in the search: Google Plus sucks or even F*** Google plus and behold the millions of voices.
      Zak wrote “G+ has collected a huge number of publishers, authors and other influencers” Yes, and same thing with the mmo game Second Life…they too had a huge number of “influencers” put stock into that boondoggle as well. You point is?
      Its here, it’s now, and it will decline and it will be discontinued. YOU people do remember Google Buzz and Google Wave right?

  2. Vic Gundotra’s job was done when he documented the APIs between Gmail and Search and Maps and Circles with Hangouts and Circle-restricted data-file on Drive. Google will throw a wall that encrypts data moving on the web or stored on Google Server Farms. Other emails, searches, locals, socials, video conferencing and collaboration Apps may make use of user data set aside because users want assistance, BUT each Google API will only let pass that which personal preferences permit.

    Contact snatching Apps and other malware won’t get an easier break than Google Apps. However, substituting a non google App, say Excel for Sheets won’t let that App walk off more data than the personal (or administrative) preferences set for the Sheets APIs. In that way competitive Apps have an easy in/out from within the encrypt everything fence.

    There is a huge amount of work slicing all the integrated services apart and building APIs to enforce administrative controls. Modifying g+ is a much bigger job then graphing gossip.

  3. TechCrunch: credibility = nil.

  4. I think Google plus has to do more than be relevant in search engine rankings. For me, it lacks activity. It is more like I post something and people share it when it’s a nice picture but then ignores it when it isn’t. Aren’t there other niches in G+ aside from photography?

  5. Thank you for mentioning my article!

  6. I wonder how many of these 300 million monthly active users are actually people willingly using the service, or if they are people that have an account solely to use other services and those services post to Google+. For example, I talked to about 15 people at work that said they have Google+ accounts, but only one of them actually used it. The rest of the people had the service (G+) so they could use other services, and never changed any of the settings, so their activity from other places was posted to Google+. I have only ever talked to two people that actively use Google+, not counting people that use it for marketing (YouTube channel owners).

  7. TechCrunch clearly had an agenda. I think Google is shunning their content so they’re taking revenge. Their authors are not active users on G+. If they were, they’d be in my spot. When inactive and moving from Facebook for the first time, interaction is ~nil. When you grow it (it only takes a few weeks), my page view is 38000 daily on G+ with 300 +1′s daily.

  8. Doesn’t the survival of Google+ depend to a huge extent on its users? So, what difference will it really make with the departure of the Chief? Will users follow suit and leave because he has? I doubt it. It’s not as if the train isn’t still moving and no-one’s operating it.

  9. G+ has collected a huge number of publishers, authors and other influencers, who are not likely to stop using G+. Companies want to have their profiles up and running, because it improves their online visibility. So I don’t see a reason why other people would stop using Google+

    • Totally agree, Zak. Google+ has a life of its own, and its down (hugely) to its users. I wouldn’t stop using Facebook if Zuckerberg left. By the same token, I don’t see why there’d be a mass exodus because Google Plus’s Chief has left.

  10. Google is also back-pedaling on the way it was using Google Authorship in search results to encourage authors to use the service. Is Google+ really dying?

    Interesting article about this on DMZilla:
    http://dmzilla.com/2014/07/08/is-google-plus-dying-at-a-young-age-of-three-years/

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