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Google just lost one of its most visible and outspoken executives: Vic Gundotra, the VP of Engineering who has been leading Google+ since its inception and also became the face of the company’s developer relations though his appearances at the annual Google I/O conference, is leaving effective immediately, according to a Re/Code report that has been confirmed by Google.
Gundotra also confirmed the move on Google+,vwriting in part:
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 remained vague about what he will do next:
But, now is the time for a new journey. A continuation. An “and then”. I am excited about what’s next. But this isn’t the day to talk about that. This is a day to celebrate the past 8 years. To cry. And smile. And to look forward to the journey yet to come.
Google CEO Larry Page fittingly took to Google+ to thank Gundotra, saying that he 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.
Gundotra joined Google in 2007 from Microsoft, and initially worked on the company’s mobile apps, including Google Maps. He was then tasked to restart Google’s social efforts, an area in which the company had failed with products like Orkut and Buzz while competitors like Facebook (S FB) and Twitter (S TWTR) quickly gained traction.
In addition to his work on Google+, Gundotra hasd also become the ringleader of the company’s annual Google I/O developer conference, where he frequently used that stage to take stabs at competitors like Apple (S AAPL).
Rumors about Gundotra’s impending departure first popped up on Secret, where an anonymous poster wrote two days ago that the Google executive was “interviewing.”
A Google spokesperson confirmed to Gigaom that the leadership of Google+ will go to Dave Besbris, whose job title (coincidentally) also is VP of Engineering and who has been on the Google+ team from the beginning as well.
However, the choice of Besbris means that Google+ Product VP Bradley Horowitz was passed over for the job. Horowitz joined Google in 2008 after leading Yahoo’s acquisitions of Delicious and Flickr, and had worked closely with Gundotra on the launch and evolution of Google+.