Jan. 30, 2012 at 8:32 PM ET
By Craig Kanalley, Social Media Editor, NBC News
Sunday night, Google+'s senior vice president of engineering Vic Gundotra posted to the social network that his team was "nervous" about its Hangout with the president of the United States. He said there were some technical challenges — for instance: "You just don't walk into the West Wing of the +The White House and set up computer equipment."
Besides some slight technical difficulties at the beginning, the livestream Monday was nearly flawless on YouTube, and the first Google+ Hangout broadcast publicly with President Barack Obama lasted just over 49 minutes.
The start of the live broadcast was delayed 2-1/2 minutes. Google+'s Steve Grove, who moderated the discussion, said at one point, "Can you hear me? You can't hear me, guys, you need the speaker on." Obama's voice was then heard: "Now I can."
The rest of the Hangout went fairly smoothly, with only an occasional lag, interruption or moment of confusion.
Viewers of the Hangout saw seven boxes at the bottom of the computer screen. One belonged to Grove. Five more to Americans who had been invited to participate, including a group of students from John F. Kennedy High School in Fremont, California. In the final box: the president.
All boxes were displayed equally, and whoever was talking lit up the top of the screen. It was a moment Googlers could likely only dream of when they conceptualized and developed Hangout, a group video chat generally limited to 10 participants.
Perhaps the most notable exchange during the Hangout was when participant Jennifer Wedel of Texas, whose husband has had trouble finding permanent employment for the past three years, interrupted the president.
Obama had said he had a list of folks looking to hire engineers, her husband's specialty. "There's a huge demand for engineers around the country right now," he added, when Wedel jumped in.
"Um, I understand that, but how — given the list that you're getting, I mean we're not getting that — You said in the State of the Union address that business leaders should ask themselves what can they do to bring jobs to America," she said.
The president had a very personal response which Wedel seemed satisfied with.
"If you send me your husband's resume, I'd be interested to find out what's happening," Obama said. "But the word we're getting is somebody in that high tech field should be able to find something right away."
"I'll have to take you up on that," she replied.
Another personal moment took place at the end, when Christine Wolf from Evanston, Illinois, asked a quick follow-up after her last question.
"Mr. President, if it's all right with you, may I just introduce you to my children, who are sitting just off camera?"
"Yeah, let me see them," he replied. And she brought her two sons and daughter into the viewing area.
"Make sure to work hard in school and do what your mom tells you," he quipped.
Not all questions were easy to answer.
A young student asked Obama what he would say to students afraid to go to college because they're worried about paying off student loans.
"I think young people have a little more responsibility to think ahead and make sure when you make that investment it's actually in pursuing a career in which you can have some confidence you're going to find a job down the road."
He also said he and first lady Michelle Obama took out loans themselves which are paid off.
When Wedel asked what the president would say to young Americans who have seen their own parents get laid off, and worry about debt and potentially facing the same situation, he said, "When times are tough, obviously a lot more people are concerned about taking on debt." But he added, "The unemployment rate for folks who only have a high school diploma is multiple times higher than for folks who have a college degree.
It was such a pleasure and honor to be a part of it. The Google team who organized it was really mint, the President is fun and engaging. It went by faster than I ever thought.... :)
Ray tells NBC News he asked a question like everyone else and the next thing he knew he heard from Google and was told his question was picked to be put before the president, thereby allowing him to participant in the live-streaming event.
Grove said 135,000 questions were submitted ahead of the event, according to the New York Times' Liz Heron.
Watch the Hangout in its entirety below, minus the technical issue at the beginning: