谷歌要实现在社交领域的野心或许确实需要一些这样的铁律。谷歌之前对Facebook领地进行的几次攻势均铩羽而归。2004年，几乎在Facebook面世的同时，谷歌就推出了第一个社交网站Orkut，但目前除了在巴西市场，Orkut网站早已被人遗忘。2007年，为了对抗Facebook，谷歌联合Myspace和其他社交网站，推出了社交网站开放式平台Open Social，结果也以失败而告终。两年后，谷歌又推出了Wave，但仅仅几个月之后便被打入冷宫。2010年，谷歌推出Buzz，试图将Gmail用户强行拉入社交网站，但很快这便成为谷歌在社交领域中的最大败笔：Buzz将人们的Gmail联系人公开给其他人，导致美国联邦贸易委员会（Federal Trade Commission）介入调查，并强制要求谷歌修改其隐私政策，同时必须接受政府监控，时长为20年。
In many ways, Google+ is Larry Page's social network. Early work on Google+ predated Page's ascent to the top post, but he has been intimately involved with the project from the start. In the initial months, Page dropped by every Friday at 11 a.m. for the group's weekly product reviews. To keep close tabs, Page moved his office and much of the executive suite to the building where the Google+ team was sequestered. He blessed the project with massive resources, making it one of the largest engineering endeavors Google has undertaken in its 13-year history, and he elevated Gundotra to the post of senior vice president, reporting directly to him. Page also tied a portion of the bonuses of thousands of Googlers to how well the company did in social.
Google+ is also the first test of Page's plan to transform Google into the nimbler, more accountable company it once was, and in the process avoid the Innovators' Dilemma, the paralysis that grips so many successful companies. In the Google+ project, the company's freewheeling and sometimes chaotic approach to innovation was cast aside -- replaced with a more top-down style. Allowing a thousand flowers to bloom may still be important at Google, says Sergey Brin, the other co-founder, but "once they do bloom, you want to put together a coherent bouquet."
Maybe some discipline is what Google's social ambitions needed. Google's previous attacks on Facebook's turf were an embarrassment. Orkut, Google's first social network, was born alongside Facebook in 2004 but is largely irrelevant outside of Brazil. Open Social, a Google-led effort in 2007 to rally MySpace and other social networks into an alliance to balance the clout of Facebook, flopped. Two years later Google introduced Wave, only to kill it after a few months, and Buzz, a 2010 attempt to shoehorn Gmail users into a social network, quickly turned into Google's biggest social faux pas: Buzz exposed people's Gmail contacts to others, triggering a Federal Trade Commission investigation that forced Google to revamp its privacy policies and accept government monitoring for 20 years.
The Buzz fiasco was a wake-up call at Google. Some of its most high-profile engineers started making the case that the social web posed a vital threat to Google. As the web was being rebuilt around people -- and, in particular, around Facebook's graph of human relationships -- Google could end up on the sidelines, its relevance eroding by the day. The message rattled Google's top brass, and an ambitious project -- called Emerald Sea -- not only to create a credible rival to Facebook but also to transform Google's existing products around social media, quickly took shape. (Gundotra picked the name Emerald Sea to suggest both new horizons and stormy waters.)
After more than a year of gestation, Google finally introduced Google+ in June. The result? A social network that cloned much of what people like about Facebook and eliminated much of what they hate about Facebook. You'll find familiar home and profile pages, tabs for photos and games, and of course the endless updates from friends. Google's +1 button works much like Facebook's Like. But where Facebook is perpetually accused of running roughshod over people's privacy preferences, Google+ made it very easy to decide who can see what users post on the site. Facebook lacked a good way to separate workmates from classmates from real friends, so Google+ was built around Circles, an intuitive way to group people in buckets. Facebook takes 30% of the revenue that app developers like Zynga make on its platform, so Google+ said it would take only 5% for now. Since the launch, Google has rolled out more than 100 new features, and Page says there is much more to come. In Silicon Valley, where everyone had given up on the idea that Google could compete with Facebook, Google+ caught everyone -- including Facebook loyalists -- by surprise. "Google+ was impressive," says Joe Green, one of Zuckerberg's Harvard roommates and the founder of Causes, an application built to run on Facebook.