When Google+ head Vic Gundotra abruptly left Google earlier this year, it quickly led to rumors that Google would be scaling back its ambitions for the social network and cutting the division's resources. In an interview with Re/code today, new head of social media Dave Besbris said that the Google+ team is still going strong, and the service won't be going anywhere anytime soon.
“We’re the largest we’ve ever been,” Besbris told Re/code. "We’re actually very happy with the progress of Google+, [Larry Page] said this at the time that Vic transitioned that he’s going to continue working on building this stuff, that he’s very happy with it. The company is behind it."
The full interview is worth a read—while Besbris didn't give surprising answers to any of the questions asked, he did talk about Google+'s ad policy and the challenges of battling peoples' "pre-conceived notions" about the social network. He also attempted to reassure those who feel they have been forced into signing up for Google+ just because they want to use another Google service.
"I only want people to use the software when they want to use the software," he said.
Though Google+ will apparently be around "for the long haul," the social network is still being decoupled from many of Google's other services. Google+ sign-ins are required to comment on YouTube videos, but use of your real name to create a Google+ account is not. Businesses using Google Hangouts no longer need to give their users Google+ accounts. Creating a Gmail account no longer requires you to create a Google+ account. Reports suggest that the Google+ Photos service will eventually be separated from Google+ as well. So even if Google+ itself isn't actually going away, it's clear that it's no longer as central to Google's product strategy as it once was.