Vic Gundotra, the Google SVP of Engineering that brought Google+ to the world, is leaving the company. Gundotra took to his creation to publicly announce his departure in a post title "And Then". He thanked the Google leadership for their support over his 8 year tenure, as well as the Google+ team that he led:

I'm also forever in debt to the Google+ team. 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.

He also said that he is "excited about what's next. But this isn't the day to talk about that." It seems he has something lined up, but what exactly, we're not sure.

Google CEO Larry Page responded to the Google+ posting with a comment of his own, saying:

You cut your teeth on our mobile apps and developer relations, turning our disparate efforts into something great. When I first used turn-by-turn navigation, it blew me away. And, walking onto the stage at I/O last year, it was amazing to see developers so excited about Google. These were vintage Vic projects. Then you built Google+ from nothing. There are few people with the courage and ability to start something like that and I am very grateful for all your hard work and passion. I really enjoy using Google+ 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+ fans.

A Google spokesperson has confirmed to Gigaom that previously-rumored candidate Dave Besbris will be taking the helm as the head of Google+. There's no indication that Besbris will leave his current role as VP of Engineering at Google.

We'll miss having Vic around and his approach to building Google products, and look forward to whatever he has planned next. Even if it just spending some much deserved time off with his family.

Source: +VicGundotra; Re/code; Gigaom

 

Reader comments

Vic Gundotra, head of Google+, is leaving Google

66 Comments

Looks like even he realizes how "evil" it has become lately. Better start jumping ship before it sinks. I appreciate his efforts on improving G+ but it's really too late. FB and Instagram have a foothold and there's nothing Google can do about it.

I do enjoy using the photo features on G+ though.

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how so? the guy built G+ from the gound up, I doubt he sees it as "evil"

and its not any more "Evil" than Facebook.

I really dislike using facebook, but I'm basically stuck using it because almost no one else i know uses G+....sad really, because it is a better social platform IMO.

I'm betting he does see it as evil. After all he didn't expect Google to make it virtually mandatory, create secret Plus pages for every user, and attempt to force everyone into using it. He probably hates the billy-club that Plus has become.

The only thing keeping Google from imposing Plus on everybody is the fear of more Congressional and EU investigations and the fact that it would cause a revolt in the Open Handset Alliance.

Beat me to it! Guy wears way more than just a tinfoil hat...

To each their own. Look up Occam's razor. Most likely he was offered a position of similar interest that pays more money. Evil? LOL you guys better move to deep into the wilderness while you still can. You're going to hate the future...

Exactly. It's actually not that bad, but their user base is mostly imaginary.. they push you to make an account, going so far as to automatically make you one and set it to public without your permission, sharing everything you post on YouTube to g+... Etc. They are greatly inflating their users.. people who actually want to use the service is probably less than 1/10th of what they claim to have.

Imaginary? Spoken like someone who doesn't actually use the service. You have no idea what your're talking about as far as numbers go. Anyone who regularly uses Google+ knows better. I interact with hundreds of people a day on Google+, more people than I do on Facebook. Facebook is my tool for chatting it up with folks I've already met (family and a few friends). Google+ is my tool for chatting it up with people that I may not have met, but they're a more diverse group of people, and the conversations are more robust and engaging because people speak their minds without fear of being judged by their "friends".

With Facebook, you have to "Friend" someone before you see content. With Google+ you add people or communities to a "Circle". You can "follow" like Twitter or use circles to set your audience/privacy for a posting. Google+ is more flexible.

As to your privacy complaints about the profile: For one thing, all Google+ profiles are public. You can set specific information within the profile to be private, but the profile itself is public. You can set it to not be part of search results for non-Google account users, but you can't stop anyone from finding your profile if they use Google+. That's the nature of the service. You're a citizen walking on a public street. If you don't want to be seen, then get off of the street.

Also, if you don't want your comments on YouTube to be applied to a Google+ posting, simply un-check the prominently-displayed option at the top of your comment before you submit it. Google has chosen to use Google+ as the tool to integrate their services. If you don't like the integration, you have the option of not using the service.

Finally, there's no ads or invitations to silly games, like on Facebook. You have control over what you see, how you're notified, and what you display. All one has to do is stop trying to turn it into Facebook and let it be Google+. The experience is quite superior to Facebook when you make an effort to actually use it instead of hiding from it.

Wow.. a very well drafted, yet completely incorrect reply. 1. You're right, I don't use the service, yet I have 3 supposedly "active"accounts that I can't get rid of without deleting my email and or YouTube, both of which I had before G+ existed and was forced into.

2. So it's a better social network because nobody you actually know uses it... Ok Interesting, but not why most people use social networks.

3. Not true, you can "follow" someone on facebook you aren't friends with and set who sees what. You've said nothing unique to G+.

4. The service isn't something I can just delete, how I wish it were. It has latched onto other core Google services, to where now if I want out I have to delete accounts I've had long before G+ existed. You can't use that "if you don't like it, then leave" type argument, because they won't let you do so. I shouldn't have to go through EXTRA steps to not use an unrelated social network, I shouldn't have everything automatically default to being shared on it. This is why I know most of their users don't even know what g+ is, because if you simply own a gmail, YouTube, android phone, or almost any other Google related services, they create an account automatically and make it impossible to unlink, they share things automatically to make it appear that you are really using G+.

There are ads. The entire service is for ad revenue. There are silly games. And I dont care what it is trying to be, I don't wish to use it, yet at every turn I'm prompted to sign in and/or make another account. I don't like Facebook either, but at least I'm not being forced to have that account. In all honesty, the G+ network isn't that bad, but I will never use it because of this offensive, relentless, pestering. Surely I'm not the only one who hates it on principle. It's getting to the point where I might just have to abandon my almost decade old email accounts, stop using Android, stop using YouTube, and avoid Google altogether just to escape. I have never considered ios or windows phone until they started this nonsense.. but now I'm looking for alternatives to everything and Ubuntu can't come to market fast enough.

1. As I said, spoken like someone who doesn't use the service, because you don't know what you're talking about. You can choose not to use the service. (Just go to Google+ and go into Settings... at the bottom, delete your Google+ account.) You're not forced to use anything. Also, you don't have three Google accounts; you have one (unless you happen to have three different GMail email addresses. Do you?)

2. I never said nobody I know uses Google+. That may be your situation, but it isn't mine. I said I use the service to talk to folks I haven't met and that I use Facebook for folks I've already met. That doesn't mean that people I know offline aren't using Google+. Many are and do.

3. I never said you couldn't "follow" people on Facebook (that's something Facebook added after Google+ came out by the way). What I was trying to say was that it's a lot easier to manage on Google+. Sure you can set your audience on Facebook, but it's not as elegant and the settings are buried so deep that there have been news stories about how difficult it is to manage your privacy on Facebook.

4. As I said earlier, you can delete your Google+ account.

You're wrong about ads. Google+ doesn't have any ads on its pages at all. You aren't confronted with them in your stream or in posts. That's one of the things that makes Google+ such a pleasure to use. No ads. Sure Google uses its bots to scan content so that it can tailor ads for you in other services; but those ads are not displayed in Google+. Also, you're wrong about the games. There are no silly games like Farmville on Google+. There isn't even a game section like Facebook has. I can really tell you've never even tried to use Google+.

Like any eco-system, Google has worked to integrate the various services to make them easier to use. You don't like the integration. That much is clear. Your lack of understanding when it comes to how the services are integrated is apparent. I'm not going to try to convince you to like it. I'm merely stating your options. No one is forcing you to use Google's services. They are there for you to use if you want to. Google is a business like any other and they have the right to run their services as they see fit within the law; just as you have a right to not use them.

The problem with people that share your attitude is the sense of entitlement that you seem to have. Google doesn't owe you anything. Google is giving you useful services in exchange for getting to know you. If you don't want them to know you, stop using their services. But if you think any other eco-system (Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, etc.) is any different when it comes to their own properties/services, you're in for a surprise. I'll let you discover that on your own.

1. I have 2 gmails. And one YouTube. It made me one for each without asking. Your instructions do not work. It will force me to deactivate my email or YouTube, as well if I try. That's my whole point.

2.You said that people can use the service, "without fear of bring judged by their friends". You use it mostly for people you don't know, at least stick to that argument.

3. Nope, it's really, really not. You can make a group exactly like circles and quickly share with a particular group.. nothing special there.

4. As I said before, I can't without deleting accounts I've had long before this mess came along. YouTube accounts have been forced into it fopeople that used it before Google even owned YT, so that is especially messed up.

I've personally played games on G+. You're just outright lying now. The entire service is an ad. If you can't see that, no amount of discussion will educate you. Companies pay to get their posts at the top, it may not have big flash ads on the side of the page, but it definitely generates ad revenue.. or did you believe Google just honestly loves us and wanted to give us a better social network with no strings?

I don't think they owe me a thing, but I'd be thrilled if they would just leave me alone and let me use the only service I have ever wanted from them; YouTube. I never implied they don't have the right as a business to do the integration, I'm simply expressing my disdain for it (and slowly but surely, the entire company). Or should we all bow to every decision they ever make? Because hey, you aren't owed anything, if they started blackmailing with their emails or comments and charging to not release identities and other personal info, that's just fine.
I know that all of these services just want to stalk and sell us for ad revenue, but none have made it as glaringly apparent as Google has. You are wrong though, there actually are services that do not do this, and the more Google pushes, the more I will avoid them in favor of others.

Again, you're making statements, but evidence says otherwise: When you delete your Google+ profile (https://plus.google.com/u/0/downgrade/), here is what happens to your YouTube: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2657970?authuser=0&hl=en

Your channel will go private (until you make it public again).

Your email is totally unaffected. You're saying your GMail will go away? (Now you're just lying.)

Not going to argue with you any more about Facebook "friends" and groups vs Circles. If you like it, good.

As for games on Google+, enlighten me. Seriously. Name some. Give me a link to one. I see none. I also see no section for any. When I search for games all I get are a couple of links to some communities where people discuss games. No actual games hosted in Google+. No invitations to play games. No infrastructure in Google+ settings or otherwise to even support games. So if you actually played games on Google+, I'd like to know where they are. I've been using Google+ for two years and haven't seen a single one. Show me.

As for ads on Google+, I'm talking about on the actual Google+ social network. (If you're not using the service, how are you able to tell me that there are ads displayed on it, when I'm logged in and looking at the service and see none?) I'm not talking about on the Google Search page. Everyone knows there are ads there. I'm talking about within Google+. I'm well aware of how Google makes their money through ad revenue. What I've been saying to you, which you don't seem to want to accept, is that Google doesn't DISPLAY any ads on Google+. That's all I've been saying. What part don't you get?

As far as the "cost" of free services, so you're okay with it as long as they keep it a secret from you? Of course Google is "glaringly apparent" about it. They've never made it a secret. If I'm going to use a service, I'd rather know what they're doing with my profile data, versus them trying to pass themselves off as totally free and then selling my data behind my back. But as I did earlier in this post, I'm going to ask you to show me. Name some totally free services that don't profile you for ad revenue. Dollars to doughnuts, if you read their privacy statements or terms and conditions close enough, they'll tell you that they use your data. If you think that any company can afford to just host free services (paying for equipment, facilities, bandwidth, etc.) without any kind of compensation, you're delusional. So I ask you, name some of those free services that do.

As for the rest of your argument about hypothetical blackmailing or charging for privacy, IF that ever should come to pass, Google would be out of business. It's completely contradictory to their business model. Your tin-foil hat dramatization is completely out of left field. We can question Google (or any company) about their policies, practices, etc. If they do something we don't like, we vote with our feet and leave. Simple as that. I've been telling you that since the first post.

So as the gamblers would say, put up or shut up. I've shown you links (from the horse's mouth) to back up what I've said about deleting your Google+ profile. You've been telling me that certain things exist on Google+, like games and ads. Show me. That's all I ask.

Again, you think you know these things, but that is not how it works. If i go to delete my + page, it prompts me with this: "You can’t delete this Google+ page because it’s linked with a YouTube channel. To delete the page, first disconnect or delete the YouTube channel from this Google+ page."
If i click its link to disconnect my youtube, it will take me to an account page that has no option to disconnect, only delete. I cannot unlink my youtube from my gmail either, therefore the only way to fully kill plus is to delete one of my other accounts.

I have had a plus since it started, I willingly tried it once, left, and then was forced to return. I see that they abandoned games, because like most of the service, it was an embarrassing failure: http://www.theverge.com/2013/5/16/4337498/google-plus-games-shutting-dow...

I remember there was a pretty limited games area (around 10 games total).. so i guess it never improved much and was shut down.

The service itself is an ad.. I see you still haven't grasped this concept.. it doesn't need banners everywhere to promote certain things that in turn pay for such promotions. They wan to turn everyone into a walking billboard.

The cost can be applied in fair ways, that monetize things i already do.. instead of trying to shove me into another service i have no interest in. Or they could even just give me the option to pay $10 a year or something to use youtube and gmail, while leaving out ads and all this garbage.. I would happily pay that.

There are tons of open source projects that charge nothing and don't data mine you. Ubuntu, Firefox, Chromium (the base, not googles version), xda, blender, gimp, etc.. literally thousands of examples. I never said it couldn't have ads. I never implied they must be free either, There are email and other clients that you pay for and they don't underhandedly do anything with your info. You keep moving the goal posts, my only point is that Google blatantly forces you into things you don't want, and then makes you a mule.

You're right, I pointed out a flaw in your logic, therefore I must believe in ridiculous conspiracies. I've been telling you since the beginning too that I AM voting with my feet. If this keeps up, I'm going to stop using all google services and get others to do the same, because they wont let me out of their stupid network.

Alright, I'm sorry you've had such a rough time with Google's product direction. I'm not going to argue with you about any of this any more. It's no longer productive. Use whatever works for you. If you find an alternative that meets your needs, great. If not, well one can only hope something comes along that will satisfy your needs. I wish you well. :-)

I haven't reviewed a single app nor posted a single comment on YouTube since the mandatory use of my real name and the auto-posting it to G+. I still appreciate a modest degree of anonymity, and don't want any G+ contacts continually bothered with what I might say or review. If I want to say something to someone, I say it to THEM. I barely tolerate the endless irrelevant nonsense from FB contacts.

Maybe I'm getting old, but I just don't get the idea that everyone hangs on my every thought or utterance... because they don't. Social networking mostly perpetuates the delusion that anyone and everyone give's a rat's ass what someone thinks. Again, they don't.

And of course, it's impossible that one could make constructive comments but still desire a degree of anonymity.

I agree completely. Just because I don't wish to use my real name on YouTube doesn't mean I have nothing to contribute.. But the dedicated trolls aren't stopped, because theyll just make a fake account and call themselves Johnny Depp or whoever. All you end up with is less real users, and more fake ones.

No, because Google+ is thankfully here to stay. Don't like it? Stick with crappy Facebook.

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They really need someone who can fix Google+. It's a huge mess. Slow and horribly designed.

Case in point: I hate clicking on a picture in Hangouts on my browser, which opens up the Google+ photos album, displays thumbnails of about 20 or so irrelevant old pictures that were posted months ago, and then 5 seconds later, the photo i originally clicked on is displayed. Why on Earth are they even showing me old thumbnail pics that are 6+ months old?

I guess that makes Twitter even more of a ghost town since G+ overtook it to become the 2nd biggest social network Site. Thanks for playing troll. ;)

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Not sure what you're talking about. I just clicked on a picture in Hangouts and it took me to the picture (not to an album or thumbnails). Now, after you finish viewing (or editing) that image and click the close button, it will display any photos you've already shared with that person in that same Hangout. So you can easily get to all of the images from a particular Hangout. Since Hangout conversations are continuous (until you actually delete it), any pictures you share in one are added to a dedicated album for that conversation. I call that good design. It's convenient.

For context, I'm using an HP Chromebook 14. Not the fastest system in the world, but not slow either. I'm also on Verizon FiOS broadband. If it's taking super long for you to see an image on your system, I don't know what could be causing that, but it's not the design of Google+, since the same service is quite speedy for me.

In most of my Hangouts, the pictures do load immediately. However, in this one Hangout that has been going on for probably a year now, there are 1250 pictures in it. I'm not sure if it's because of the number of pictures, or what. But there is a noticeable delay between me a) clicking the picture, b) the gallery displaying, c) and then the photo actually showing.

Additionally, the photos don't appear to be organized from newest to oldest, so the thumbnails I see are from ages ago. To find a recent picture is impossible with 1250 photos in the stream. So for me, seeing the photo stream is useless.

Anyway, here is a video with what I'm experiencing that i just uploaded to Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asgXMAcNl0s

1250 pictures? Yeah, I can see any service taking a bit to wade through all that. You made it sound like this was happening across the board. Granted, I don't have a Hangout with that many pictures in it to try myself. I think the longest, most media-laden one I have has a couple hundred pictures in it over the course of several months. I see no noticeable delay with it.

If your complaint is over a single Hangout with 1250 pictures in it, and calling the whole Hangouts infrastructure flawed because it takes a few seconds for a photo to appear under those circumstances, I think you're being a bit unreasonable. But your point is understood. How would you have Google change it so that there is no delay? Eliminate displaying the photo album altogether and just put a link to the album next to the photo while being viewed? I suppose that could work.

To the people saying G+ is a ghost town, that's simply a lie. It's been growing for quite some time and the numbers just keep getting bigger. It's a more mature community than FB (no "like if your a 90s kids" posts) and I much prefer it over any other social network. As to the people saying G+ is slow or a mess, that's also a lie. Upgrade your browser, upgrade your hardware, and stop using your AOL internet. Sad to see Vic go, he will be missed.

Yeah, even when every other site runs just fine, its clearly time to spend more money on hardware just to use Google+.

Seriously, do you have any idea how that statement characterizes anything else you have to say?
You almost had a believable post up to that point. Then you jumped the shark and put your true stamp of authorship on it.

I am an active G+ user, but if you think that the way Hangout photos and G+ work is well done you have issues.

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I could say the same about people who think the opposite and I wouldn't be any more wrong than you are.

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Their numbers keep growing because they are making people accounts automatically and requiring it for unrelated services like YouTube.

No, it's because people actually like it. If you're gonna bash something, put some intelligence into it. Lol

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Can I get Google bloat off my phone then? Yea they do good stuff but do I have to have all of them on all my devices

I see a lot of Zuckerberg lovers on the comments here. Lol Or maybe they're all just 14-15 year Olds who take selfies and talk shit to each other all day. XD

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I don't see anyone praising facebook.. guess what? It's actually possible to dislike something without loving it's main competitor. Crazy concept, I know.

Everytime i open my mobile phone,there are a few times that i encounter a google+ account.the only difference is,it doesnt seem to work.it must have been an error page.never blogged inany google+ account yet.