Google’s top Google+ executive is leaving the company

Vic Gundotra, the pugnacious head of Google+ is leaving the company. Gundotra announced the news (obviously) in a touching Google+ post, and his departure is immediate.

Here’s what Gundotra posted:

Today I’m announcing my departure from Google after almost 8 years.

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.

Gundotra didn’t mention his reasons for leaving, or what his future plans were. Over at Re/code, Kara Swisher and Liz Gannes reported that sources say his replacement will be VP of Engineering David Besbris.

Gundotra may have been at the helm of what everyone thought was a second rate social media network, but he was responsible for building out many of the platform’s most attractive features. Most recently, Gundotra demoed a whole range of new tools at Google+ that make it a serious contender in the social space, especially for sharing multimedia.

An engaging and combative public speaker, he didn’t shy away from taking on the competition publicly. While Google+ may not have the reach of Facebook, it does have a loyal following, and as social marketers can testify, it’s a crucial tool for making sure you get discovered through the Google search engine.

Speaking on Gundotra’s departure, Google CEO Larry Page posted his own Google+ post, saying:

Vic — thank you for a tremendous almost eight years at Google.  You cut your teeth on our mobile apps and developer relations, turning our disparate efforts into something great.  When I first used turn-by-turn navigation, it blew me away.  And, walking onto the stage at I/O last year, it was amazing to see developers so excited about Google.  These were vintage Vic projects.  Then you built Google+ from nothing.  There are few people with the courage and ability to start something like that and I am very grateful for all your hard work and passion.

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