Vic Gundotra to leave Google, future of Google+ social network in question

25 Apr 2014

Vic Gundotra, outgoing Google senior vice-president of social and head of Google+

After almost eight years of service, Google’s head of social Vic Gundotra is leaving the company. The departure has called into focus the future of Google’s social network Google+.

Gundotra joined Google in 2007 after being head of platform evangelism with Microsoft and driving the creation of Windows Live.

Writing in a Google+ post entitled And Then, Gundotra said the decision to leave Google came in the aftermath of the tragic death of his wife’s uncle in LA two months ago and how the tragedy got him thinking about his life and moving on to the next challenge.

“Today I’m announcing my departure from Google after almost eight years,” he wrote. “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. And I’m overwhelmed when I think about the leadership of Larry Page and what he empowered me to do while at Google.

“From starting Google I/O, to being responsible for all mobile applications, to creating Google+, none of this would have happened without Larry’s encouragement and support. I’m also forever in debt to the Google+ team. This is a group of people who built social at Google against the scepticism 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.”

The future of Google+ takes on Android dimensions

Despite Gundotra’s encouraging words, the future of Google+ has been called into question. Various reports suggest Google has been steadily dismantling the Google+ teams.

According to TechCrunch, Google has been reshuffling the teams that used to form the core of Google+, which numbered close to 1,200 employees.

It is understood that the Google Hangouts team will be moving to the Android team and that the photos team will follow. It is not yet clear what Google intends to do with the teams not designated to go to Android.

While Google+ has amassed more than 540m users worldwide – less than half of that of Facebook but more than double that of Twitter – it’s impact on the social-media landscape has been debatable in terms of engagement.

The question now is, does Google+ have a future within Google considering its leader has departed and reports suggest core teams are being dismantled?

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years