Is Google giving up on its social network?

The head of Google’s social networking efforts Vic Gundotra has announced that he will be leaving the company, prompting speculation that the internet giant is finally backing out of the social game.

Gundotra joined Google eight years and has been heading up Google+ for the last three. The social network that was his ‘baby’ launched back in 2011 with many hoping that its stratified approach to sharing (friends can be split into different circles with different permissions) might offer a more nuanced alternative to Facebook.

However, despite extremely fast adoption in the first couple of weeks, sustained user growth never materialised and when Google tried to bolster its numbers with an aggressive integration policy – for example, forcing YouTube users to sign up to the social network – the strategy backfired, angering many online.

Despite its troubles Google+ can still claim more than 540 million monthly active users (making it the second most active social network) but most of this is down to the popularity of Google’s other products – rather than the attractions of Plus itself.

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