Gundotra was joined on stage by Sergey Brin, one of the company's co-founders and a surprise guest at the conference. Gundotra said Brin was very involved in the design of Google Plus, especially its Hangouts feature, where up to 10 people can join in impromptu video conferences. Hangouts has become one of the more popular features of the service. Sergey painted his role as being more of "the peanut gallery."
Brin also hinted that he is working on problems like Google's Autonomous Car Project, which he hopes will help people who cannot drive, and ultimately solve urban congestion issues. Other projects he is working on, which he would not divulge, are along the same theme--helping solve bigger world issues.
[ See InformationWeek's complete coverage of Web 2.0 Summit. ]
Gundotra also said that the company will be taking a slow approach to opening up Google Plus APIs, pointing out that there are a few read-only hooks, but that the company's experience with APIs through products like Chrome and Android have taught Google to take a conservative approach. Gundotra and Brin took some not-so-disguised swipes at Facebook Connect, and some of the problems that service created for developers.
Web 2.0 Summit host and chairman John Battelle also raised the "real names" issue -- the inability to create pseudonyms in Google Plus, which has been the source of debate and user consternation. Gundotra said that pseudonym support will be in Google Plus in the future, but that the company decided to create an atmosphere around real identities at first.
Gundotra and Brin tackled other challenges as well. Although the company reported 40 million users on Google Plus, Battelle pointed out that it didn't have nearly the momentum that Facebook does, at least for personal connections. Gundotra bristled a bit at that approach, but also said that the company was patient, that it has plenty of customers of other Google technology, and that eventually those users will discover Google Plus.
"The incumbent has a huge advantage," Gundotra said,"if you play the same game, you're not going to win." In other words, he is happy with the early momentum (that 40 million is 4% of Google's user base, John Battelle pointed out).
Watch more of the Web 2.0 conversation in the video below: