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    • No matter how well or poorly Google handles the shutdown, I see zero impact to Google’s brand.  

      Prior to this October, I had no idea that Google + was still a thing.  And since then, I have seen zero stories in my news reader about its pending demise. None. A half billion dollar investment is being trashed and what the president served for lunch gets greater coverage.

      By the summer, everyone on Google+ will have moved on to somewhere else and will continue to use Google for search and maps.

      If there was going to be a coordinated boycott, like with Reddit in 2015, the silencing of the Moderators Community would be a brilliant counter-measure by Google’s management.  But as @Factotum suggests, it may just be the result of a crumbling or highly misunderstood infrastructure.

      Chris, I have an answer, or at least a theory, as to what Google is and was thinking about Plus in 2009, 2014 and today, but I don’t think you’ll like it.

      Google was afraid that Facebook was going to steal their advertisers.

      That’s the only logical explanation for why they decided in 2009 to create Google +.

      In 2009, Alphabet’s total revenue was $23 billion.

      Even a 10% loss of revenue to Facebook would have translated to over $2 billion annually.  Add in the drop in valuation on the stock market from such a loss and a half billion dollar spend on Google + seems like a bargain.

      Google + was never created to realistically best Facebook.  

      It was introduced on June 28, 2011 with the goal of putting doubt in the minds of advertisers who were considering switching to Facebook.

      And Google kept it up by introducing new technology on Google +.  

      So Google’s advertisers thought that if Google was putting all this money and enhancements into + then maybe Facebook isn’t where they need to be.

      Google+ also created an arms race with Facebook, causing Facebook to invest massively in video in 2014-2015.

      And did Google succeed in protecting their ad revenues?  

      From 2009 when Google + was started to 2014 when management lost interest in Google +, revenues TRIPLED from $23 billion to $66 billion.

      Since then, Google has acted like a New York City landlord who tries to drive tenants out of their rent-controlled apartments in order to turn their units into luxury condos: turning off the heat, not making repairs, letting spam flow freely.

      But not everyone took the hint.  And it would’ve been a PR nightmare with protests if they shut it down while it was still popular.

      And forget Google manufacturing a phony reason to shut it down—the truth would’ve come out, causing an even bigger PR nightmare.

      Google would’ve kept Google+ going and falling apart for years longer if need be.  

      A prime example of this wait until it’s safe approach is Google Blogger.  It was officially dropped from Google’s strategic focus over five years ago.  It should’ve died five years ago. But they still haven’t shut it down. Why?  Because there are still bloggers on Google Blogger with 10+ years of blog posts and SEO who would cause a PR nightmare.  Or would’ve five years ago: maybe it’s been forgotten so no one hits the kill switch.

    • I mostly agree with @apm 's assessment - although I believe the reason they are using now to shut it down very much is a phony reason. ;)

      Google+ played the role of sacrificial anode for a while, and the recent schedule of Congress hearings and whatnot was the perfect time for it to be useful one last time: Look, we admit we did mess up as far as privacy is concerned - but we didn't hesitate and instead tossed this multi-million dollar platform overboard for the safety of our users.

      That's just nonsense, and everyone knows that - except perhaps those members of Congress who asked Sundar Pichai for help with deinstalling apps from their iPhones. If it had been any successful product from Google's lineup, like Maps or Photos, then a privacy leak would have been fixed, but the product itself wouldn't have been discontinued.

      Also, I'd still say that the privacy leak wasn't really a problem specific to Google+: Profile information had been moved out of Google+, and into its own subdomain, years ago. You can access yours at, and will probably continue to be able to do so even after G+ shutdown. Similarly, sign-in with Google has not been a G+ thing for years. So, if some misbehaving API specific to G+ really was the problem, that API could just have been fixed or discontinued instead.

      Google+ has been the sacrificial anode in other regards as well. Over the years, we saw so many half-hearted attempts at adding new features, or commandeering old ones for new purposes, that I personally believe the platform mostly acted as a testbed not only for features, but also for new product managers at Google, in its last few years.

      Many of the features we got were obviously rushed into production while still incomplete and then left to rot - and I can only guess that this is because no one had any grand strategy except "let new product manager X do their thing before rotating them to a different product, and then let's see if anything sticks".

    • I have a few friends (five) who worked on Google+ in the early, heady days. You're probably very right about why Google entered the space and invested so much in it.

      I'm always fascinated by what causes some products in a company to succeed so wildly, and others to fail. Sometimes they succeed like Adobe Lightroom and gmail seemed to do, by being protected from the company so they could do their own thing. Other times, like in the case of the iPhone, it's because they had an amazing leader (Steve) who could draw the best people onto the team, away from products they cared less about.

      It feels to me like Google+ had neither. The team they had early with people like Andy Hertzfeld didn't seem to last long as they got pulled into other areas of the company like Adwords, or fired.

    • So, if some misbehaving API specific to G+ really was the problem, that API could just have been fixed or discontinued instead.

      I wonder how easily things would be to fix. Every time someone left, knowledge that was in someone’s head but never documented becomes lost forever. @ChrisJenkins might best be able to speak to the upkeep given to an unwanted product, but I feel like there are so many undocumented or poorly documented patches in Google+ at this point that it would (a) take significantly longer than expected to fix and (b) result in other vulnerabilities being uncovered. Like the API was discovered during review of a small statistically sampled batch of code. You’re better at statistics than me, but basically if you take a large enough representative random sample of the whole and there’s a 5 percent failure rate in the sample, then you can assume with a 95% confidence level that there is a 5% failure rate in the whole.

      Google’s brand is built on consistent reliability. The risk of bad PR from disgruntled + users is now outweighed by the risk Google+ poses to the overall brand image.

      But yeah, I agree that their justification of shutting Google+ down to protect your privacy is disingenuous.

    • Given the fast and dirty rip out of G+ as a centralized Google identity layer after Vic Gundotra left (which was a massive mistake, IMO), I'm sure the problem was half brain drain, and half technical debt. I'd hate to see the Kanban board for that backlog.

    • What needs to be noted here, though, is that Google+ as a whole is not going away. While the public "consumer" instance will be shut down, the "intranet" variants for enterprise customers will supposedly continue to exist.

      I'm sure there will be, or already have been, changes to that enterprise variant. For example, from recent screenshots it looks as if collections will no longer be a thing going forward - but the point is that they surely won't throw out their whole code base and start from scratch, which means that already existing bugs will continue to exist. They might be hidden behind another layer of authentication, but I have to assume that the same or a similar effect would have been possible for "consumer G+" if they really wanted.

    • I have a regular "consumer" account, and I haven't seen any in-product notifications either. Even the Google+ page account itself has posted about this just twice, so a random user that is just minding their own business and does not follow the G+ page or any of the semi-official "help communities" might still not know that they need to find a new home in less than 3 months.

      I have not seen official communication about anything that bungled in a while.