When it comes to social media, the major players are pretty well defined. Most of us hate Facebook
(NASDAQ:FB) but continue to use it because everyone we know does. Twitter
(NYSE:TWTR) can be amazing and soul-crushingly annoying in equal measure, depending on whom you follow. Instagram is a great way to see what people had for lunch, and Vine offers a peek at six-second short films that still seem to be too long.
And then there's Google Plus
(NASDAQ:GOOG), which the company stylizes as "Google+" -- the whipping boy of social media. While it has its share of passionate fans and a preferable layout and user experience when compared with Facebook, Google Plus evokes distaste from users who had been forced into the platform in order to operate various Google services. But despite the forced integration, a considerable majority of folks outright rejected using the service on a regular basis, leaving many to count the days before its inevitable concession to defeat.
Well, that day appears to be fast approaching.
Vic Gundotra, widely considered to be the "Father of Google+," announced
on his profile that he will be leaving the company after nearly eight years. "I'm also forever in debt to the Google+ team," Gundotra wrote on Thursday. "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."
However, according to a report by TechCrunch
, it's not all sunshine and roses over at the Google Plus division, and Gundotra's optimism seems to differ from reports of corporate reshuffling and a product downgrade.
Google Plus will reportedly cease to be in competition with Facebook and Twitter, and that unpopular forced integration with services such as YouTube will allegedly come to an end. Approximately 1,000 to 1,200 employees who made up the Google Plus team will be moved to Android development. Along with them, Google Hangouts and Photos will also be shuttled to the Android division.
In light of this dour report, a Google spokesperson told
Ars Technica, "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." Even Google CEO Larry Page wrote a commendable comment on Gundotra's post, praising both the exec and Google Plus.
"I really enjoy using Google+ on a daily basis," Page wrote, "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."
But the writing seems to be on the wall, and Facebook users -- by and large -- have no desire to emigrate to the shores of Google Plus. Hopefully, there will come a day when a social media platform pulls us away from Zuckerberg's site once and for all.
Google Plus, alas, wasn't that platform.
No positions in stocks mentioned.