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Google Seeks Social Networking Head

A reportedly leaked recruiting letter acknowledges that Google is late to the high-stakes social networking game.

After striking out in the high-stakes social networking world, Google wants to regain a top-spot in the line-up by creating and hiring a "head of social" executive.

The company contracted with an international executive-search firm to lead this charge, according to a recruiting letter obtained by the technology site, GigaOM.

"This is a new and very strategic position, as Google knows it is late on this front and is appropriately humble about it. In Google’s view, conceptually, there are two ways to tackle social, each impacting who may be successful in this senior post: 1) building an innovative offering specifically in this area; or 2) developing the capability and integrating social into Google’s existing portfolio," the letter said, according to GigaOM.

Google would not confirm the report to GigaOM. “We’re continuing to invest heavily in people and are recruiting top talent in all areas of the company," a company representative said.

Google has played in the social network game before, with sites such as Orkut and Google Buzz, neither of which became a fan-favorite. In February, Google also acquired Aardvark, a social search service founded by former Google employees, for about $50 million, according to reports. Over the past few months, Google has added social layers such as maps and search. In addition, Google entered into a paid contract with Twitter for real-time updates to its front-page search results.

On the human resource front, Google hired advocates of open social web standards such as OpenID Foundation members Joseph Smarr and Chris Messina. In early 2008, Google lured Bradley Horowitz from Yahoo to oversee as vice president of product management for Google Apps, including Gmail, Calendar, Google Talk, Google Voice, Google Docs, Blogger and Picasa.

"Getting the future of the Social Web right -- including identity, privacy, data portability, messaging, real-time data, and a distributed social graph -- is just as important, and the industry is at a critical phase where the next few years may well determine the platform we live with for decades to come," Smarr told GigaOM last year.

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