TechCrunch delivered the sad news that Google+ is shutting down on Thursday in an article titled, Google+ Is Walking Dead. “What we’re hearing from multiple sources is that Google+ will no longer be considered a product, but a platform — essentially ending its competition with other social networks like Facebook and Twitter.”
The source of all this speculation? The departure of Vic Gundotra, the “father of Google+” from the company. In a post on that apparently dead network, Mr. Gundotra stated, “I have been incredibly fortunate to work with the amazing people of Google. I don’t believe there is a more talented and passionate collection of people anywhere else. And I’m overwhelmed when I think about the leadership of +Larry Page and what he empowered me to do while at Google. From starting Google I/O, to being responsible for all mobile applications, to creating Google+, none of this would have happened without Larry’s encouragement and support.”
I read the TechCrunch article with dismay. After all, I’ve been beating the drums for Google+ personally, going so far as labeling it the “social network of 2014.” After all, Google+ does have over a billion active accounts with over 350 million active users (Wow, you’re right, that DOES sound like a total ghost town!). There’s a pretty fun and active community there if you know where to look, plus with it being released in 22 languages, plenty of opportunities to speak with folks on an international level.
Such a shame, right?
Except, of course, the rumors of Google+ shutting down are merely speculation.
When I read the article, I immediately turned to my friend Lynette Young, Google+ power user and insider, to ask her what she thought. She wrote a blog post about it, but it can be summed up pretty easily with this quote: “I’m begging, stop being stupid, people.” In longer forms, she states, “Maybe Google is shuffling deck chairs, maybe they are just being smart and taking talent from social (Google+) and putting it into mobile (Android) and multimedia (YouTube and Photos). Maybe they are just a global monster of a company and need to rearrange and evolve. Google has always, in my opinion, shipped MVPs (minimum viable products) they have the money and resources to do so.”
But none of that means Google+ is shutting down. After all, Google+ announced +Post ads less than two weeks ago and why on earth would Google start running ads on its social network if they just were going to shut it down?
Sure, Google has a history of shutting down beloved products. We are all still scarred from the loss of Reader. But Google+ continues to be the key integration tool of ALL of Google’s impressive list of products, so Google+ shutting down seems pretty darn unlikely. So remember, just because a couple of articles start yelling about the sky falling, think it through. Google+ is likely to evolve and change as the web evolves and changes, but I can’t see the doors slamming shut just yet.