Google+ Grows to 40M Users, Revenue Nears $10bn

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Google+ now reaches over 40 million members as the company continues to see profits beat expectations

At the announcement of  its Q3 2011 financials, Google CEO Larry Page happily announced that the company’s fledgling Google+ social network had grown to reach over 40 million users and that “people are flocking into Google+ at an incredible rate”.

Launched to limited field testing in June and to public beta on 20 September, Google+ includes information sharing tools that resemble those found in Facebook, the incumbent it is seeking to challenge for users’ attention. Google has opted to offer a “Circles” sharing construct, where the default setting is that anyone can follow anyone else on the network.

A Big Plus For Features

The company has added well over 100 new features to the social network since it was launched, including real-time search and, only yesterday, better hashtags . However, such features pale in comparison to what users can expect in the future, according to Page.

“We are still at the very stages of what tech can deliver,” Page said on the conference call with analysts. “These tools will look very different in five years’ time.”

Google in Q3 also announced its intention to acquire Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, a play to gain over 17,000 patents to shore up its defences against Apple, Microsoft and other erstwhile litigants looking to sue the company to halt the spread of Android and Google Search.

Consummation of that acquisition is in limbo while the Department of Justice (DoJ) is investiges the deal for antitrust concerns. The company is also subject to dual antitrust investigations from the European Commission and the US Justice Department relating to its search business and advertising practices. Just three weeks ago, in front of Congress, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt testified that Google is not misbehaving.

Solid Performance

In the financials call, Page announced that Google had soundly beaten third quarter earnings expectations, announcing $9.72 billion (£6.18bn) in sales excluding traffic acquisition costs paid to advertising partners of $2.21 billion (£1.4bn). The earnings marked a 33 percent boost from Q3 2010.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had tipped Google to report net revenue to rise 32 percent to $7.21 billion (£4.58bn) from Q3 2010 on earnings per share of $8.74 (£5.56).

The search engine provider also made a profit of $2.73 billion (£1.73bn) compared to $2.17 billion (£1.38bn) during the same period last year. Google saw paid clicks increase 28 percent from Q3 2010, and 13 percent from Q2.

Meanwhile, Google has $42.6 billion (£27.08bn) in cash in the bank and is still hiring. The company’s headcount crossed the 30,000 employee mark to 31,353, up from 28,768 in the second quarter.

Google managed to conduct business even though it is embroiled in patent infringement litigation with Oracle, and indirectly from Apple and Microsoft, over its open source Android platform.

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