Last week, Google's Vic Gundotra announced his departure from the company after eight years of focus on Google+. This raises many questions about where this will leave Google+ and what effect this will have on small businesses.
Some experts are claiming that Google+ will change as a result of Gundotra's departure, moving from a product to a platform and ending the competition with other social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. Google, however, denied this claim in a statement saying that, "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."
With the significant growth of the usage of Google+ by small businesses, analysts are discussing whether or not these new changes will alter their relationship to the product moving forward. Sources claim that Google has been reorganizing the teams of between 1,000 and 1,200 employees that formed the core group of Google+. Whether or not these changes are related to Gundotra's departure is unclear, as is the future of the product itself. Apparently there is a new building at Google as well, with these employees also being moved physically. The Google Hangouts team are said to be moving to the Android team, with speculation that the photos team will follow suit. With these substantial moves, it appears that Google is shifting a large amount of its talent from Google+ over to Android as a platform.
These changes fit within the general acceleration of mobile efforts, as well as the move away from Google+. It is expected that the teams will be building widgets to take advantage of Google+ as a platform as opposed to being its own integral product. Perhaps these moves are coming as a reaction to the fact that the integration of YouTube and Google+ wasn't received well by the general public, with a massive backlash from both businesses and standard users, as well as concerns from within sections of Google itself.
Gmail will continue to be integrated with Google+, but it is expected that the requirement to sign-on to Google+ to use various other products will be reduced. Sources reveal that there were differing opinions between Gundotra and others at Google over the "forced" integration of Google+ into other products such as YouTube and Gmail, and it's possible that this conflict was the impetus for his departure from the company.
David Besbris is taking the place of Gundotra, although sources reveal that parts of Google+ are actually administered under "the person responsible for Chrome". It is unclear whether or not this is the head of Chrome and Android, Sundar Pichai, as well as why this change would occur. Many questions remain, and Google representatives have denied this claim altogether.
While the full effect of the changes to Google+ aren't clear yet, small businesses are taking note as their focus on this platform may need to shift to accommodate the alteration to its integration with other products.