Google: Nothing Is Changing With Google+

Apr 28, 2014 • 8:25 am | comments (35) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Other Google Topics

Google+ iPhone AppGoogle's Moritz Tolxdorff, the Google+ Community Manager said on Google+ in response to the rumors of Google+ being cut down, saying that is not true. He said:

Yes, no one is moving anywhere. Everything will stay as it is.

You can Moritz's response in this Google+ thread on April 25th.

Chris Lang asked the question that got the response from the Google+ community manager.

Forum discussion at Google+.

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Mark Traphagen

04/28/2014 12:33 pm

We had much stronger and deeper affirmation from even higher up. Google+ Chief Architect Yonatan Zunger called the conclusions in the infamous TechCrunch article "pure bollocks." As to the "move and reassignment" of over 1000 Google+ employees that was cited by TechCrunch, Zunger said this was a move not to another division but to a new, larger building because the G+ staff had outgrown their current space. He also affirmed to me that Google is still investing heavily in Google+, with many new features and innovations in active development at this very moment.

Nick Ker

04/28/2014 01:30 pm

I thought this story just didn't add up. Google+ has been growing and adding new features pretty regularly. It just doesn't look like a product that is being phased out at all.


04/28/2014 01:33 pm

I hope that's true but given Google's track record of "sunset" services and rotting social media failures like Orkut or Google bookmarks I'm not really optimistic.


04/28/2014 01:52 pm

Those comments from G+ management are useless. My company cut services a few years back, and when the rumour got out in advance, senior management denied it for weeks in advance, loudly and longly. In the end, the services were cut. If Google would have said nothing at all, or simply confirmed that changes were coming, it would have been "abandon ship". Would YOU waste your time maintaining your G+ presence knowing that in a matter of months, the entire thing could be de-bundled? In my case, I stopped being active there weeks ago. The only people the seem to think it's full steam ahead (and that G+ is a gift from the gods to the social networking world) are all of the social media experts on G+ who have spent the last 2 years extolling the virtues of G+ versus other networks, and warning us that if we didn't actively engage and establish a presence on G+, we would be left behind. The "G+ is changing" message is all over the internet now; there are hundreds of articles featuring this message. Even if there's a chance that they're false, the damage has been done. G+'s image has now moved from ghost town to graveyard. Whether it's true or not is irrelevant. This is all about perception. And no one wants to waste time on a network they consider to be about to croak.


04/28/2014 01:55 pm

Wondering if they are having second thoughts on killing Google Reader? Wonder if it will return? Wonder if it does return if people would bother returning? I think many Google fans are losing faith. Why continue to put your personal time into platforms and apps that could be pulled again by Google.


04/28/2014 02:03 pm

Vic Gundotra was very high up at Google. When someone in that position leaves, it's a fact that the rumour mill will churn. I think the decision to leave Google was made very quickly. In the normal scheme of things, the PR implications of a departure at that level would require that a departure be well scripted and controlled. If Gundotra was simply moving on to other interests and overhauling his lifestyle and values, I firmly believe the timing and messaging would have been quite different. This has created a great deal of speculation not on Gundotra's future, but on Google+'s future. There are hundreds of articles all over the internet. If Google was trying to control the message, they screwed this up BIG TIME. I don't believe that a company like Google would just allow that to happen. For that reason, I don't believe a word that the senior G+ people and the social media "experts" are saying. For the record, I had a presence on G+ for 2 years and was an active advocate and participant. I moderated communities and posted quite frequently. Over time, I got bored (and somewhat lonely) with G+. My participation declined. A few weeks back, I realized I was just wasting my time on G+. I killed my profile, wiping out my content and returning to Picasa for photos. Life goes on. I'm not a social media expert. Just a guy that liked G+ and was a "general public" participant. I suspect that my experience is not that different from most people. If I couldn't find a reason to stay, others who were less engaged are probably in the same boat. The numbers seem to suggest that.

Michael Martinez

04/28/2014 02:25 pm

The rumor itself may have done irreversible damage to user participation on the service. I don't use Google+ much myself but I have been checking in more lately and I see less activity than I used to. I can't tell when the decline started, though. I follow mostly tech people and marketers, the so-called "hard core users".

Trent Mc

04/28/2014 02:50 pm

Thank God, I moved to Google+ as soon as Mutt Cutts suggested. I love his unbiased suggestions.


04/28/2014 03:25 pm

I'm willing to bet the the dropping engagement and enrollment has impacted Google's likely decision to rethink it. If it was growing at an acceptable rate, why would they change it?


04/28/2014 03:34 pm

One more thing.... the moment a company like Google has to resort to "that's not true! nothing is changing!" messages in response to hundreds of articles all over the internet claiming otherwise, you know that company has lost control of the message. Further evidence that in fact Vic's departure was unplanned and unexpected. Google is on the defensive on this one. For good reason.

Gareth Mailer

04/28/2014 03:48 pm

There's a REASON Google + isn't going anywhere: 'it's not a social network'. Despite the perception of what seems to be a large share of marketers Google, seemingly, never intended it to be used as such. If it's anything 'specific' then it's a unified login, a data repository it will likely draw from increasingly in years to come. There is so much more to it than merely 'socialising online'.


04/28/2014 04:05 pm

i disagree. How can a network that features and promotes Communities be labeled as anything but a social network. Google+ is a social network; but it encourages exchange between people who don't know each other, for the most part.


04/28/2014 04:14 pm

Its growth is artificial... by forcing YouTube to require all users to use it makes G+ look like it competes when most people are reluctant participants which is poison for public opinion of it. Without the YouTube hack G+ would have next to nothing to show in terms of marketshare growth.


04/28/2014 04:22 pm

I see a lot of people are latching on to Vic's departure to assume it means something negative for G+. We get it, you hate Google or G+. Yet all I hear when I see so many people trying to inject meaning into something that they cannot possibly know (as no real details have been released) all I see is a lot of silly angst. The head of a department leaving doesn't indicate a negative any more than Rubin leaving as head of Android indicated its demise..quite the opposite in fact. For whatever reason some folks are so emotionally against the idea of G+ succeeding that they can't seem to cope with the fact that others do use and enjoy the service. Maybe its time to stop assuming negative press equates with reality. The fact is we don't know what the reasons are for his departure. And how about some perspective. G+ is not even three years old and its a solid number 2 social. Facebook took 4 years to even catch MySpace.

Gareth Mailer

04/28/2014 04:43 pm

There are thousands of websites online which have bolted-on communities (web forums) - are they social networks? Sure, social is a part of what Google + is all about, but it's a very small part. It's a way for Google to monitor a unified identity, track your behaviour across platforms i.e. Drive, YouTube etc, and in the long-run utilise that data to provide superior, more relevant advertisements. Other tie ins include Hangouts, Google Local, Rel-author/publisher etc. It;s integrating into most of Google's peripheral services. it's most definitely NOT just a social network, the social aspect is a very small component in its overall purpose.


04/28/2014 05:27 pm

This is the way these debates usually go... if you see issues with G+ and you agree with the now numerous reports of its pending restructuring, you're labelled as a "hater". I find that whole approach really juvenile and dismissive. Can't compare the growth rates of FB and G+. G+ came onto the scene when social networking was well entrenched. People "got" social networking when G+ came along. But, it's worthwhile noting that FB attracted as many new users in the last 18 months as G+ did. G+ could only hope for those numbers. I think trying to pretend that all is well at G+ is a bit naive. It's clear that changes are coming. Vic Gundotra wasn't a mere "department head". And his fast and unexpected departure was unscripted and unexpected. I'm not a negative person. I actually was an early G+ adopter and moderated several communities. I don't hate G+ at all. I just am realistic. No one I know used it. No one MOST people know use it. Yes, some people have many contacts they know there. The point is, the vast majority of users don't. G+'s growth has been extremely slow. Usage is hard to measure because Google insists on categorizing YouTube comments and Hangouts activity as "being active on G+". Do a Google News search on G+ today. The negativity out there is now astounding. It's not just me. Social Network "experts" on G+ have been saying for the past 2 years that the world would catch-up and eventually, all would see that G+ was the better network. That just isn't happening. It's sad. For 2 years, I hoped that would be the case, but I see the writing on the wall. One could easily switch your own statement around as follows: "For whatever reason some folks are so emotionally in favor of the idea of G+ succeeding that they can't seem to cope with the fact that the rest of the internet doesn't feel the same way and really doesn't care what happens to G+". To be honest, there are a whole bunch of people who will be happy to be able to use the Google services they really like without having G+ shoved down their throats.


04/28/2014 05:32 pm

In that sense, yes. That's why reports that G+ is moving from a product to a platform make sense.

Nick Ker

04/28/2014 05:44 pm

That's a fair point, but not really much different from the thousands of sites that require you to use Twitter or Facebook to login to use the site, comment, etc. Login numbers may be inflated by that, but actual usage is not. Nate Elliot & shared your mistrust of Google's numbers, so they did their own survey: "Rather than trust Google’s own user data, we decided to run our own survey. We asked more than 60,000 US online adults which social sites they used — and 22% told us they visited Google Plus each month. That’s the same number who told us they use Twitter, and more than told us they use LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Instagram." That's not "next to nothing". And this is hard to quantify, but I suspect the type of usage may not be more, but is better than FB in particular in that it actually has some degree of usefulness. Much of FB is nonsense like "I'm bored. Somebody Like this so I don't kill myself" or disseminating sloppy memes claiming Obama is going to put your children in internment camps. Sure, there is some of that on G+ too, but nowhere near the level of FB. So maybe there aren't millions of 12 year old kids, and profiles for peoples' dead pets all over G+, but grownups are getting on board and actually using it - particularly in B2B, music industry and local businesses like restaurants.

Nick Ker

04/28/2014 05:49 pm

...except that it always was a platform more than a social network. So it is kind of a semantic dispute. Nothing is really changing about what Google+ is or does (according to Google). But someone said "platform" instead of "product", and the echo chamber resonated.


04/28/2014 05:52 pm

It's a lot different in that YouTube is nearly 100% of G+'s pie... In most cases logging in with FB is optional... not forced. G+ and YouTube is forced. I think most YouTubers would be willing to pay money to not require their users to link a G+ account to comment. It is really quite awful in fact and much more so than any FB login example I can find. Please share a significant site the forces FB login... FB optional login doesn't count, because the issue isn't the option... its being forced to use it.


04/28/2014 06:37 pm

You raise some fair points regarding growth. I agree its muddy and comparisons are difficult. I disagree that growth has been as bad as you imply, but debating that was not the intent of my comment. The intent of my comment was to point to the issue that people are jumping to conclusions, many of which are entirely based on their feelings toward Google/G+instead of fact. You say, "I think trying to pretend that all is well at G+ is a bit naive.". Yet I think its naive to make assumptions before knowing any of the facts. We don't know why Vic is gone. It could be positive, it could be negative. The litany of articles produced about G+ in the last couple days are negative. This is why I commented. But so what? We know: 1 - negative news sells better than positive news 2 - writers often produce content based on the trend instead of research 3 - the people who read/comment on articles represents a minuscule fraction of the actual social scene 4 - we've seen this cycle many times in the past and its often been meaningless. Think about how much negativity appeared about about things like Android in its early days, FB introduction of Timeline, and even more recently, YouTube. Yet all did quite fine thereafter. The reality is often the negative responses come from a very vocal but tiny segment of the real market. People who love a product are typically much less likely to want to find a place to write about it, and this is no different in journalism. Yet those with reasons for discontent will often search for places to vent. The result is discontent users often drown out the positives and make it appear that everyone is unhappy, and in some cases they seem like a very convincing majority. Is that the case here? I'm saying we don't know, and assuming anything right now is premature. Maybe you don't have angst about Google/G+ yourself, but many do, and that was the point.


04/28/2014 07:21 pm

I agree - lots of speculation. My speculation is just a bit different than yours and some of the others here. But not that different from many, many articles out there now. The uncertainty comes from Vic's sudden departure. It's highly unusual that someone at that level leaves without an exit plan so that this type of speculation simply doesn't happen. There is also speculation based on the fact that that he is being replaced by David Besbris - an engineer -- and not Bradley Horowitz, a social-network expert and Vic's previous right-hand-man (sorry for the sexist term) that there is a major structural change coming. And of course, this irritating business of apparently many, many people being moved off of the G+ project and onto the Android project. All of these things suggest that G+ in its current form is about to change. Yes, it's speculation,but some of these signs are causing the speculation. For me, the biggest sign is that Google has been reduced to pushing out "calm down - everything is OK" press releases. When the news is positive, these kinds of releases are very different and are well prepared in advance. I really, really, really hoped that G+ would succeed. Seriously. I wish it were different. I just feel it's heading in a different direction.


04/28/2014 10:28 pm

Two things strike me about your reply (which is echoed in others). 1 - why the assumption that it was Vic's choice? We don't know that this wasn't Google's choice to get some fresh direction. That is not unusual at all. Of course we don't know this, but that is certainly as believable as Vic choosing to leave. 2 - if one is truly dissatisfied with what Google has done with G+ thus far, shouldn't Vic's departure be a good thing? All those complaints might be rectified by his replacement and maybe this was Google's intention all along. Also, regarding people being moved off of the G+ project and onto the Android project, Google has denied this. They reportedly just built a new building for G+ specific employees due to growth.


04/28/2014 11:39 pm

The average web user probably isn't even aware of the YouTube thing, much less care about it that way. You would do well to not nitpick different departments and view google as one entity, which includes YouTube. You'd be far less confused about it. You have to login to Facebook to use all of its features, so how is Google different? What is the difference if you have to login via google vs logging in via YouTube? You still have to login somewhere! Why fixate on the login anyway? Because the other facts about Google+ use are not convenient?


04/28/2014 11:53 pm

Hundreds?! Good lord, you really want this to be true, don't you. Hundreds of parrots repeating a rumor does not make it true. But that makes sense in a way. Google never said Plus was intended to be a Facebook killer. The parrots said that. Now, to many, that is the "truth"and if Google doesn't quickly vanquish Facebook once and for all, without altering the platform in any way, then the parrots can squawk about what a failure it is. They'll keep being selective about the facts they choose to believe and keep citing each other's theories and guesses as "truth" to support it. I don't use it so I have no dog in this fight. But when I see one person getting all excited about a rumor and claiming its a sign of imminent failure, I have to wonder what Google did to upset that person.

Daniel Delos

04/29/2014 11:16 am

I noticed there's no mention of product vs platform here which was a distinction being echoed without explanation on all the sensational articles about this. Here's my take on it IF Google is actually making shifts in G+ (big IF): Platform is just a fancy or stupid way of saying unified account, meaning an integrated account across many sites and services which benefits users with convenience and benefits Google by collecting unified user data and behavior across those different sites and services, in order to target ads more effectively (always the bottom line). G+ was always already this and if anything, they would be interested in expanding on this front. Product is just a fancy or stupid way of saying full blown social network. In other words, a central location where people would want to go and spend time. Google has had mixed results on this end and may be shifting emphasis towards being a unified account (platform) on the popular sites that people actually do want to visit. They want the unified account for coherent data but the forced social integration is not strictly necessary. With adsense and adwords they already have their fingers in many of the places people are visiting so they don't really NEED to create a new place like this. What they need most is user data in order to target these ads more effectively. Because it would seem much more effective to target ads at the visitor as an individual.

Grammy Winner Taylor Swift

04/29/2014 01:58 pm

Oh please. It's not actually the #2 social network by any metric, and you know it.

Ben Guest

04/29/2014 02:46 pm

It's also silly to think Google would eliminate its way to provide target marketing, i.e., Facebook wannabe.

Ben Guest

04/29/2014 02:48 pm

ESPN forces you to sign in to Facebook if you want to comment.

Ben Guest

04/29/2014 02:56 pm

I agree. Are people going to get up and move out of Facebook along with all their friends? Google's authorship and adding your pretty picture to the SERPs also helped with G+'s inflation.

Mark Traphagen

04/29/2014 04:21 pm

And that's why I as a marketer think the value of Google+ hasn't changed a bit. I never approached it primarily as a social network. Ironically, I now have over 80K followers there and it drives more traffic to our site than any other source other than organic Google. But I always saw it as valuable because of the influence I build that reaches into search, especially at the personalized level. I firmly believe it's why our organic Google traffic has risen at the same rate as our G+ referral traffic. The only thing I'd quibble with is the notion that Google "never saw it as a social network." I think they sincerely did hope it would not only be a major identity data driver for them but also a true rival to Facebook. But they never understood how to make that happen. So I'm going with they won't kill Google+. As I've said elsewhere, removing something like Reader was like removing a sock. Removing G+ now would be like ripping out one's central nervous system. It's too baked in, and the data is too valuable. However, I do expect we will see a decreasing pushing of the social network side of it.


04/29/2014 04:32 pm

anyway, than G- is useless. Same like google "search engine" now.

Nick Ker

04/29/2014 04:43 pm

OK I get it. You don't like to login. Must be new to the interwebs, because I am pretty sure you had to login to youtube to comment or publish before the G+ integration, too. You also don't like to acknowledge the facts from that forrester article.


04/29/2014 05:32 pm

Re 1: Yup - it's all speculation anyway. Re 2: Yes, but the bigger speculation is that Vic left suddenly because he couldn't support proposed changes to the platform. As far as the movement of people within Google, hmmmm.... the only thing that keeps me thinking that this is not just idle speculation is that there are, apparently, over 1,000 people who have been moved. And yet, the media has not had a statement, unofficial or otherwise, directly from one of those people that the speculation is baloney. I would think that at least one of these people would have anonymously spoken to a contact in the media somewhere to make it clear that this is just a change in office buildings. But that hasn't happened, and that's surprising.

Gene Eugenio

04/30/2014 01:16 am

Now, if they can only do something about the PERVASIVE SEO myth that Google + actually boosts your SERP results :)

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