Inside a company full of algorithm-minded engineers, Vic Gundotra is Google's lead social evangelist. And in recent years that's been no easy job; it's no secret that Google suffered a few false starts in its attempts to create its own successful social venture. Wave was snuffed out just 2½ months after it opened to the public. Buzz was a flop from the start, and Orkut was big, yes, but in Brazil. This year, Google set its sights again on carving out its own real chunk of the social web, and the 43-year-old senior vice president was tasked with reversing the company's social-network curse. In July, Gundotra unveiled Google+, an ambitious product with the look of Facebook and the functionality of a Twitter-Tumblr hybrid. A few months later, the buzz has died down, but the site's respectable 47-million user body suggests there's more to G+ than just hype. Loyal users swear by the service and Google seems bullish on its long term prospects, too. As Gundotra's team continues to roll out new features and integrate G+ with the company's other products, Google still has miles to go before it can secure its place in the social space. But for the time being Gundotra has successfully scratched Google's social itch.
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