Seemingly every day, the Google+ "suggestions" feature would implore me to "circle" (read: follow) the Google+ activities of Google CEO Larry Page, as more than 300,000 users had done already.
Where has Larry Page gone?
Finally, I decided to relent - probably should have done so long ago - and clicked on the link to Page's page so I could see what I'd been missing: It turns out that I hadn't been missing much of anything, at least not for the past month, as Page hadn't posted a word to Google+ (for public consumption) for that long.
What's up with that?
After all, Page had been reasonably active on Google+ early on: publicly congratulating the Google+ troops upon launch of the service in late June; sharing vacation photo after vacation photo; pointing out an interesting story about some French trans-Arctic adventurers; and trumpeting the company's acquisition of Motorola Mobility.
That last one was the last one, though, dated 15 August. So where'd he go?
Yes, world domination can keep a CEO busy and Page certainly cannot be expected to use every Google product, but Google+ and social networking are considered critical to the company's future, and there are already whispers about waning interest in some circles without the CEO creating at least the impression of having gone napping himself.
When I asked Google for comment, here's the reply they gave me: "We don't comment on individual profiles, but it's important to keep in mind that sharing activity can be taking place privately to circles. As we've shared before, we're seeing that people are two to three times more likely to share content with one of their circles than to make a public post."
Possibly keeping his content private
My reply to Google's reply: That's all well and good, but it doesn't address the central issue raised, which is that it doesn't look good to have Google's CEO publicly appear on - then publicly disappear from - the company's fledgling social-networking platform, especially at this early stage of its attempt to gain hearts and minds.
Yes, it's certainly possible that Page has continued to use Google+ regularly to share his thoughts and funny YouTube videos with a subset or subsets of the 300,000 people who have circled him; those interactions would not appear among his public posts. Google employees who are active on Google+ claim that such is indeed the case.
But if that's so, why shouldn't Page come out and simply acknowledge that he's had a change of heart and chosen to keep his Google+ activities private? Instead, it appears as though he only went through the motions of participating publicly in the early weeks.
And the platform itself continues to suggest that users follow Page. Since I first visited Page's page and wrote about it on Buzzblog, an additional 75,000 Google+ users have "circled" the CEO.
My guess is they're expecting to hear from him.
If they don't, it's a certainty that a good number of them will assume he's lost interest in that particular communications channel. No one would advise any CEO to create that kind of impression. That this particular CEO is in charge of the platform and its future makes the impression much more potentially troublesome.