Google's Brin: "I'm not a very social person"

Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google which recently launched its Google+ social networking alternative to Facebook, has admitted he is "not a very social person".

"I haven't spent much time on social networks myself... including Facebook or Twitter. I just haven't been very active on any of them," Brin said in an unscheduled appearance at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco yesterday." I try them as I feel it's important for my job to understand them."

But before his audience began thinking Brin was following in the footsteps of co-founder and CEO Larry Page, who has been lampooned in September for not having posted on Google+ for more than a month - Brin said he found Google+ "instantly compelling", singling out the service's Circles feature for particular praise.

Launched in June, initially on an invite-only basis, Google+ has now garnered more than 40 million users - still well short of Facebook's 800 million user base.

"The incumbent [Facebook] has a huge advantage and if you play the same game then that's a hard game to win. We are playing a different game [to Facebook]," explained Vic Gundotra, Google's vice president of social, who shared joined Brin in conversation with Best Buy CTO John Battelle.

"Your friends, mother and cousins are already on Google - they use it all the time. But we have never given them a reason to express their identity and relationships before. And we are going to do that [with Google+]," added Gundotra.

Google, whose previous (and unsuccessful) foray into social networking, Buzz, was recently canned in a mass cull of products, has pinned its hopes on breaking into the market dominated by Facebook, tying 25 per cent of all employees' bonus payments to the success of the company's social strategy in 2011.

Asked whether Google staff would be getting the payments, Brin said they would have to wait until the end of the year for a decision.