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Pseudonyms, brands coming soon to Google+

October 19, 2011 |  3:51 pm

Vic Gundotra was very social at San Francisco's Web 2.0 Summit Wednesday.

Google's senior vice president of engineering told the audience that the Internet search giant is very pleased with its new social network and plans to add new features to Google+ by year's end.

GundotraChief among them: After weeks of controversy triggered by its policy to force users to go by their real names, Gundotra said Google is working on a way to allow people sign up under pseudonyms on Google+ in the future.

Gundotra also said Google+ would roll out pages for brands. Major advertisers already use Facebook and Twitter to reach large audiences on those services.

Still, Google faces an entrenched and mighty competitor in Facebook, which has more than 800 million users around the globe. When asked how Google could compete against the world's most popular social network, Gundotra said: "We're going to play a different game. It may take some period of time."

In a direct swipe at Facebook, Gundotra told the audience that unlike Facebook's new "frictionless" features, which automatically share users' activities with their friends, "we do not believe in oversharing."

"We think curating matters," he said.

Google is riding the early success of its new social network. Gundotra appeared onstage alongside Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

Brin, who described himself as a "not a very social person" and says he initially opposed many of the features of the new social network, said he found Google+ "instantly compelling."

Last week, co-founder and Chief Executive Larry Page told analysts that Google+ has more than 40 million users, up from 10 million three months ago. Page did not specify whether Google defines a user as someone who visits the site regularly or just once.

Author John Battelle, who interviewed Brin and Gundotra on stage, asked about a lengthy internal memo written by a Google engineer who accidentally made it public, giving onlookers a window into dissent over Google+ inside the company. Gundotra responded that Page and Brin had encouraged a culture of open debate. 

Brin responded differently. "I stopped reading it after the first 1,000 pages or so," he said. "If you want to get a point across, limit it to a paragraph or so."

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-- Jessica Guynn

Photo: Vic Gundotra from his Google+ profile

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