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    • Daria, you are kind of the perfect example of what the platform could do for creatives! And how cool was it that a few years later, you and I were having breakfast with Ron Garan, the astronaut, in Austin, Texas? G+ made so many good connections possible.

      I think G+'s big advantage was they helped people to connect over passions much better than Facebook. FB always seemed (and mostly still is) about friends and family. But, on FB, you're still kinda "stuck" with friends from your high school that you may or may not like anymore, and who most assuredly do not share whatever passions you develop later in life.

      G+ was always, to me, a very positive place. Compare that with all the energy-vampires on Facebook. I don't need that in my life. I think it's much more healthy for creative people to be around other positive, giving souls.

      I was always excited to open my G+ feed and see what fresh goodies had been served up by people I followed. It's the total opposite of Facebook. I think staring at your FB feed is the exact same as staring into the refrigerator when you're not even hungry.

      But yeah, those Google Hangouts, what a killer feature. I loved doing those live shows and meeting all kinds of new photographers and stuff. That tech on top of G+ was a real game-changer!

      Here's one of those hangouts we did that @Gino was referring to above with Kim Dotcom and lots of other photographers at

    • Wow.

      Half a Bill invested,

      Users who look back and almost unanimously feel like it was the one platform that they felt personally invested in it and loyal to it.

      All the name recognition that being Google brings.

      All for nothing.

      There's a serious study that needs to be done investigating how this happened.

      I don't want to hear "None of my friends/family were on it." Everybody uses Google and/or uses Gmail. There's NO WAY that Google can look itself in the mirror and explain how they blew this hand so badly.

      Was it hubris?

      Did the people at Google (Vic?) simply believe that being Google would be enough?

      Was it lack of boots-on-the-ground recognition of what was happening, for good and bad, on their own platform?

      I didn't know one person on G+ that didn't think it was the real deal. Everyone felt like Google wouldn't let it fail.

      How did Google get dealt 4 Aces and still lose this hand?

    • Gino, it's a fascinating question and I'd love to have some insight. One thing that bothered me was Trey's screenshot of the most followed people in the early going and how many friends they had:

      It makes me wonder how much the top Googlers—Larry, Vic, Sergey and Matt—really used it when their leading competitor was. It seemed to me that they used it like Twitter for mass broadcasts and then just stopped in 2015 when they still had good engagement in their broadcasts. Mashable wrote this a few months after it launched:

    • Whoa! That article brings in even more questions with the benefit of Hindsight.

      Google publicly stated that G+ was to be a major face for the company, even plastering the name Google on it in a big way, and they massively funded it. But, somehow, those who stood to benefit the most from it's success didn't even bother to use it, or at least act like they were using it.

      To me this speaks to my original thought. Hubris.

      They thought they didn't even have to try. People will use our new platform because we are Google and we just dropped a 1/2 Billion with a "B" on it.

      If we are really being honest with each other, we will admit that there remains a certain set at the top that considers Social Media in general to be a tool that is used to influence the unwashed masses. It's for the mob. Not for the senate.

      I think Google brass never used it because they weren't using social media in general.

      The next question is, would it have made a difference if they had?

    • I know the press made a big deal about Google management not using it, but I never was worried about that. A lot of those managers are just not "public" kinda people like us, who bloviate nonstop and are constantly creating photos and stuff to share. Many of those execs can't really use social media like us because the press and Wall Street hangs on every word.

      I was flummoxed why I could get more of my Facebook friends and family over to Google+. It was clearly superior in almost every way and I had every logical argument laid out. Still, not many came over. They were comfortable on Facebook and they weren't "power users" in that they didn't really see the faults that Facebook had. Facebook has fixed a lot of those faults by now, thank goodness, but I think one thing that sours most of us is how people love to use it to complain about everything.

      And back on a positive note, another great thing about Google+ photos that were different/better:

      1) The photos were huge and looked cleaner in the G+ interface

      2) There were no advertisements

      3) There were "View Counts" so you could see which ones seemed to be most popular. I still haven't figured out why Facebook doesn't show view counts.

      4) It was blazing fast!

    • but I think one thing that sours most of us is how people love to use it to complain about everything.

      Trey, I listened to a debate on NPR during Trevor Noah's early days about whether he would make it. One of the media veterans said something I've never been able to forget: audiences want to see blood. This was something, they said, that tortured Jon Stewart but he eventually had to cave to get the ratings he needed. No one wants to be made fun of, but they want to see Tina Fey draw blood with her parody of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live.

      Do you think we're seeing some of that on Twitter and Facebook? The burns, the justice served to the company that did a perceived evil, they tend to go viral there, no?

      For people like you and Daria, who are so incredibly positive, it sounds like Google+ was a big draw because it was so positive. I'm just wondering if a larger audience wanted more edge.

    • Trey, "I think staring at your FB feed is the exact same as staring into the refrigerator when you're not even hungry." is now my all time favorite explaination of Facebook. So so perfect! I totally relate, G+ was kinda a thrill to open up every day. I never knew what gorgeous photo would be floating down the stream, or whether someone ridiculously famous or outrageously interesting was going to comment on something, and then those "Join Hangout" buttons popping up at all hours of the day and night made every mintute into a possible meet-cute or adventure. Facebook is just, ugh. I don't open it at all any more.

      And yes, brunch with you, Uncle Ron The Astronaut (which is what I call him now, by the way, we should get him on this thread! We were just texting about G+ yesterday!) and Vic at The Driskill in Austin Texas on my birthday was mindblowing. There's so many stories. That's actually another one of G+'s magical-fairy-dust-features: It made stuff happen in real life! Friendships, parties, concerts, relationships, fandoms, opportunities, connections, photowalks, and totally hilarious stories. No other social network has so effortlessly translated into real life experiences like that, at least not that I know of and not for me. I think it was again a side-effect from Hangouts. When I would meet people in person who I'd hung out with often, they already felt like close friends. We'd go in for a hug without even thinking about it. When I got to play shows around the world my Hangout friends would be my personal tour guides! Tel Aviv. Scotland. Chicago. London. LA. It was crazy.

      Speaking of funny stories... Trey, remember when we went around that Zeitgiest cocktail reception arm-in-arm introducing ourselves as completely different people to everyone we met?! I think you told one lady you were a goat farmer. And you tried to talk me into saying hi to Malcolm Gladwell but I was too nerd-struck. And then you totally walked up to Azaelia Banks and told her, "I don't know who you are, but you're fabulous!" Yeah, so many priceless moments online and IRL.

      Ps. I just found these pics on Google+, their trusty search bar still works! Just made me realize I gotta go download all my photos and stuff offa there!

    • That's an interesting thought, kinda like, "a person is smart, people are stupid". Maybe something about Google+ – the face-to-face of Hangouts, the long beta period when most of us joined – created a much more personal, human connection between people, whereas FB and Twitter are more like mob-mentality, and because of that things over there can get really outta hand really fast. I loved the optimism of the vibe we created there. I guess as creators it's always something we can cultivate in our own communities through the work we do and how we communicate with our audiences, but that inherent sweetness was super special.

    • This is probably a crazy thought, but I wonder if Larry and Sergey did their moonshot-or-bust thing with Google+ and when it didn't turn out to be a moonshot, they lost interest. It didn't turn out to be a place where the stars would promote movies, but it did turn out to have some great local communities.

      Do you think they could be persuaded to sell it to someone who has more modest aspirations for it? SmugMug bought Flickr and I don't think anyone saw that coming.

    • Yes, Chris, I know what you mean about the Romans being placated with bloodsport.

      I can get a little philosophical about "online sociology" here, I suppose. Negativity breeds and attracts more negative people, and of course it's the polar opposite for positivity. The negativity online (especially on Facebook) sounds a lot louder, because all the Negative Nancies have something to vociferously complain about. On the other hand, positive people generally don't comment much because everything is pretty okay in their life.

      What I notice, even more, nowadays on Facebook is that positive, optimistic people don't even use Facebook much anymore. Why dip a toe in the cesspool?

      The core problem with all the complainers out there is tied to a larger sociological issue that feeds the importance of the overall ego. People's egos create elaborate stories in their mind of how the world should work, how their lives should go, and how X person is supposed to do Y. And now, these online platforms have created a structure that supports that story and encourages them to agree with one group out of fear for another group.

      It's all quite poisonous on and individual level and dangerous on the meta-group level. Not to sound overly solipsistic, but I think the antidote to all that poison is creativity and love. I believe it's up to artists and creatives to save the world! Whenever you're listening to a transcendent song, viewing a beautiful painting, eating a ridiculously awesome meal, watching brilliant film, etc - everything totally zens out. Imagine if we could get all 8 billion people on the planet to chill the fuck out a little bit! :)

      Now, that's a rather long way of saying that G+ definitely felt like a place for all sorts of creatives: painters, chefs, dancers, photographers, performers, etc to gather as if in a Parisian salon during the artistic periods. I think of each of us as Owen Wilson's character in those scenes in Gertrude Stein's salon with everyone from Dali to Picasso to Fitzgerald from Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris."

      Now that G+ is gone, where are we all supposed to gather?

    • Hey panel, we got a question from @CygnusX1 in another thread and I wonder what you think (edited by me for brevity):

      My take on the decision to bin G+ because of privacy lapses was it lacked credibility.

      If G+ was leaky, you would fix the leak rather than throw the bucket away.

      My suspicion is the platform was not monetising its subscriber base to sufficient degree.

      Ironically, this is one of the many reasons why users did like G+. There was not the sense that you were being used as data-fodder for someone.

      I would be interested to hear what the panel thinks.

    • My take on the decision to bin G+ because of privacy lapses was it lacked credibility.

      If G+ was leaky, you would fix the leak rather than throw the bucket away.

      My suspicion is the platform was not monetising its subscriber base to sufficient degree.

      Ironically, this is one of the many reasons why users did like G+. There was not the sense that you were being used as data-fodder for someone.

      I would be interested to hear what the panel thinks.

      Hi @CygnusX1 :) I agree the "angle" to shut down G+ because of a minor privacy breach doesn't pass the sniff-test. I would have appreciated if they were more forthright and simply said, "We have decided it's not in the best interest of Google to pursue a social network at this time." We're all grown-ups and can appreciate a clear, solid statement like that.

      I don't agree with you that they shut it down because they wanted to monetize it, though. Google makes so much money from its ad sales that they can run many of their other sub-businesses and experiments at a loss. Facebook must monetize their social network with ads because that is their only business.

      When thinking about the "demise" of G+, I have a few good ideas about that... I'll share them in a bit. I'm waiting for a few other panelists to come online and talk about all the good stuff first, and why we loved it at the very beginning.

    • I have a question from Louis Gray, who works at Google and hosted Daria at the Plex in January 2012, when G+ was a few months old.

      Louis said:

      After her performance, including a rousing rendition of our all-time favorite hit, +1 Me, SVP Vic Gundotra found me in the hallway and thanked me for inviting her. I remember his comments verbatim... "I had no idea... she was so good."

      @Daria was amazing. I'd like to ask her to tell her story of getting inspired by the network and writing this song. She was always such a delight, even as we'd add her to live hangouts with others interested in the platform.

      He even included his cell phone recording of that performance of +1 Me:

    • It was quite a ride there for a few years. My own experience was that I was fairly active in Flickr Groups from back in the day, along with that crazy Russian accountant mentioned above, Ivan Makarov. For me that was the earliest online "photo community," for lack of something else to call it. We were doing books and meetups and trips. Flickr redesigned groups really moving conversation to the background and right about that time Google launched Google+.

      For me Google+ seemed ideal for the photo community. It was very visual giving photos high visibility on the platform. At the same time posts really became conversations. Hangouts allowed people to interact in real time. And most of all Google seemed very interested in promoting it. From what I'd read in the Wall Street Journal and other places, they certainly poured a lot of money into it.

      The nice thing about Google+ was how much the online interaction led to offline interaction around photography. There were contests and hangout shows and I loved hunting for interesting new photographers to add to my photography circles on G+.

      Many of the people I'd known for a few years from Flickr and other online photography flocked to Google+. Ivan helped organize a book. There were worldwide G+ photowalks. There was an epic trip to go shoot Death Valley that Luc Asbury helped lead.

      I still remember that dinner on New Year's Eve in Yosemite with you and others Trey. The photowalk at Google i/o that Trey mentioned where we gave away a pair of Google Glass was another super fun event. Little did we know in just a few short months Google+ would be killed.

      It was sad to see it go. I pretty much knew it was dead when Vic left. Vic was the ultimate Google+ cheerleader at Google. He was one of the top Google execs on the executive committee. He presented at i/o. Seeing him go it was only a matter of time before you saw Google pretty much completely disengage. I think they would have killed it earlier but they'd already had a reputation for starting social projects only to kill them. Orkut, Dodgeball, Wave, Buzz. So when they really went ALL IN with Google+ when it came time to kill it, they couldn't actually do that but rather just put it out to pasture and probably figured when it wasn't as tender a subject that they could always just kill it later. And that's pretty much what they did with this recent privacy lapse.

      I still think they gave up too soon leaving social 100% to Facebook.

      I'll always remember it as a special time for online social and photos. Similar to DMU at Flickr or FriendFeed before Facebook bought that and killed it. As far as I'm concerned nothing's taken its place and we've been left with the fractured ad-centric Facebook and I suppose Twitter a bit. I've been hopeful that Flickr would try and revitalize groups and reinvigorate the photo community on the web through that, but I'm starting to think that's not in the cards in the future either. Time will tell like most things I suppose.

    • I think Google looked at the data and didn't see it getting big enough to threaten Facebook's dominance and a decision was made to stop funding it. Without funding and promotion it was effectively dead at that point. The only reason not to kill it right then and there was Google was concerned about their reputation. After embracing it so significantly all the way from the top (Larry and Sergey) down, to kill it would be to admit failure in a very dramatic and public way when it would have gotten much more negative media attention. By waiting a few years and especially by using this "privacy" excuse, it gives them time/space and cover to a degree from criticism.

      I don't think G+ was ever about monetization. I think it was a defensive move recognizing that to concede social to Facebook meant allowing a competitor more potential online ad dollars that would not go to Google. Further there's risk that Facebook could turn all that valuable social data into search as well eventually cutting into Google's search revenue as well.

    • $585 million sounds like a lot of money but when Facebook has a market cap of $443 billion you can see the value of what G+ could have been if Google had even built 1/10th of what is Facebook today. Still a colossal waste of money in hindsight though. I think they could have spent another $500 million on it before giving up. I think they had something that with Google's clout could have been viable, but then again, I don't have access to all the data that Google was likely seeing at the time and perhaps they figured there was just no way possible to even peel off the smallest fraction of Facebook's user base. Perhaps they figured in the end online social identity/network was a winner take all game.

    • One of the nice tools on G+ for dealing with the negativity was blocking. When you blocked someone on G+ they were really GONE! They disappeared entirely. I loved that. :)

    • Hey gang happy to be onboard for the conversation. I see a common theme in the posts so far. That is, G+ help us meet people we wouldn't have met otherwise. I became friends with Daria and Trey before ever meeting them in person. As Daria says, it turned the first handshake into a hug. I remember in Dec 2011, someone posted one of those Jib-Jab dancing elf videos that someone put together with some of the top followed people on G+ . Daria and I were "lucky" enough to be elfified. That's how we met. But, besides the strictly for fun stuff, G+ had some really powerful collaborative apps. It really was a powerful tool for collaboration that, for various reasons, never achieved its full potential. It was fun and impactful while it lasted.

    • Prior to joining G+, I really had no idea about social media. I mean, I was on Facebook - but my profile was set to friends and family only. Mostly I lurked, wondering what all the fuss was about - and thinking people sure must have alot of time on their hands. And tiny minds.

      Then Trey invited me to G+ and I felt like a kid in a candy store. At first I hung out in the shadows, marveling at all the bright, shiny things and the incredibly creative people. But before long, G+ became my place to jump in and try stuff. I experimented - alot. Writing, photography, doing hangout shows, making videos, going to photowalks all over the country - lordy, I felt like my heart was cracked open and light was spilling out all over everything. I connected with other photographers and artists, learned exponentially, met lifelong friends, discovered so much about myself and my art and fell face-first into opportunities I’d likely never have had without the platform.

      It. Was. Amazing. I thought: wow, if social media can be this much of a force for good then we’re really onto something! I used to say how G+ could change the world. I mean, why not? It certainly changed ours, right?

      Yet, in the back of my mind, I knew it probably wouldn’t last. It was too positive, too good, too pure! And a corporation was still behind it. I thought it might make it for a couple of years - but it exceeded my expectations. Not just with how long it did last, but the depth and breadth of the deep and abiding GOOD that it did.

      What I know for sure: my life was completely and utterly changed for the awesome by G+. There is nothing to take its place - and for that, I’m truly sorry.