Vic Gundotra On How Google+ Handled Brands: “It Was Probably A Mistake”

After warning people about it for weeks, Google began enforcing its ban on all Google business profiles this morning, to much consternation from, well, businesses. Yes Google did warn people at the launch of Google+ that any non-human pages would be killed and that people shouldn’t be surprised that the pages were killed…

But of course, like when anything is axed on the Internet, people were up in arms. Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan wrote an “Open Letter To Google+ On The Subject Of Brand Pages” and, emboldened, my colleague MG Siegler wrote the elegantly titled “Fucktard+.”

We were explicitly told not to put up a Google+ Profile for TechCrunch at launch, but other brands like Mashable, Search Engine Land, Ford and Seasame Street didn’t get the memo and had their profile pages suspended this morning. Since then Ford and Mashable have had their Google+ pages reinstated after what I’m assuming was communication directly with Google. Danny Sullivan in contrast will have to file a reconsideration request for Search Engine Land’s page.

Because we had Google Social Head Vic Gundotra and Product Manager Bradley Horowitz in the TCTV studio today, I decided to ask them what they thought about the backlash and inconsistent handling of the Google+ Business Accounts. Vic Gundutra’s solution was to choose a figurehead from the organization to represent the brand and deal with the interim months between now and when the Google+ Business pages launch that way. Gundotra told me that in hindsight the treatment of brands in this way was “probably a mistake.”

Of course the whole thing is exceptionally ill thought out. Using the Pete Cashmore switchover as an example, Gundotra says that Cashmore recognized that he made a “mistake,” and that’s why he changed the Mashable profile to Pete Cashmore; But, wait Cashmore already had a Google+ profile with 40K followers when he was allowed to switch the Mashable account (and its over 100K followers) to his personal one. So now Pete Cashmore has two (!) personal accounts. I don’t know about you but that doesn’t sound at all like “complying with the rules” to me.

When asked if he would take Google up on its solution Danny Sullivan said, “Honestly at this point it’s not that important to me, to have someone go in there and pretend to be our business off of their personal account.” Indeed, as this kind of pullback and “oh here’s a workaround wink wink” strategy creates mistrust between platform and users. “Putting the business genie back in the bottle is just going to generate a lot of ill will,” Sullivan expained.

Related: Meet our newest employee: Techathew Cruncherin, Google+ Maven.

Interview below.