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Google exec & social networking chief Vic Gundotra leaves company

Vic Gundotra, an outspoken member of Google's executive team who spearheaded the company's Google+ social networking service and oversaw its early mobile applications, has left the company after an 8-year tenure, he announced on Thursday.

Appropriately, Gundotra announced his departure via his official Google+ account, where the executive said he's headed on a "new journey," but declined to say where he might end up. In addition to creating Google+ and being responsible for the company's initial mobile applications initiatives, Gundotra also started the annual Google I/O conference, where the company historically has unveiled advancements to its Android mobile operating system.

It was at Google I/O in 2010 that Gundotra and Google came out swinging against rival Apple, comparing the iPhone maker to "Big Brother." The comments were a reference to Apple's iconic "1984" advertisement, which itself was an allusion to George Orwell's classic novel of a dystopian future.

"If Google did not act, we faced a Draconian future where one man, one company, one device, one carrier would be our only choice," Gundotra said in 2010. "That's a future we don't want."

Prior to joining Google in 2007, Gundotra spend 15 years at Microsoft, where he eventually became the company's general manager of platform evangelism.

Google Chief Executive Larry Page responded publicly with a note to Gundotra thanking him for his tenure at the company, and wishing him luck on his "next project."

"You cut your teeth on our mobile apps and developer relations, turning our disparate efforts into something great," Page wrote. "When I first used turn-by-turn navigation, it blew me away.

"And, walking onto the stage at I/O last year, it was amazing to see developers so excited about Google. These were vintage Vic projects. Then you built Google+ from nothing."

The CEO also vowed that Google will continue to bring "great new experiences" for members of Google+.