Late Wednesday night, Google+ project leader Vic Gundotra announced on the new social website that the invite mechanism was shut down for the night due to an "insane demand." Namely, people like Jane and me were passing out invitations left and right like druggies offering free samples on the street corner. One person with fifteen invites quickly turned into fifteen people with fifteen invites each, thus a small test group turned into a huge colony of pests that even an exterminator couldn't eliminate.
"We've shut down invite mechanism for the night," he said "Insane demand. We need to do this carefully, and in a controlled way. Thank you all for your interest!"
At first glance, Google+ appeared closed for additional business Wednesday evening even if visitors already had an invitation at hand. But like a packed nightclub, they had to wait outside in the cold until more room could be made inside – in this case, interested Googlers were directed to a sign-up page to be notified when the doors would be open again. The same was true for those who didn't already have an invitation.
But despite the CLOSED sign in Google's window, most of us found a way to sneak inside after discovering a loophole in Google's invite system. The trick was that someone already had to be inside Google+ in order to open the secret entrance. Current members simply retrieved the valid email addresses of their friends and sent off an invitation. Recipients would thus click on the big red JOIN button within the email and voila! They were in. Google soon caught on and disabled the email invites, locking out additional party crashers before the roof caught on fire.
Despite Google's ultimate failure of Wave and the PR disaster surrounding Buzz's launch, it's interesting to see that Google quickly came to its knees after opening the doors to Google+. Recent reports indicate that Facebook's overall growth has been lower than usual for two months straight; the United States lost almost 6 million users in May alone. That said, the sudden drop in Facebook minions and the surging interest in Google+ could mean that social bugs may be looking for something fresh, perhaps something more secure than the current offering.
Still, Google will need to offer something extraordinary with its new social website if it expects everyone to pack their bags and move out of Facebook for good.