Sundar Pichai is arguably the most popular face of Google, and now he has one more role to play- a member of Alphabet’s board of directors. Alphabet is the parent company of Google, and ever since it was created in 2015, Pichai has been serving as the CEO of the search giant. Ever since Pichai came at the helm of things, he has really made Google focus on the future. Apart from Google Chrome and Android, Pichai has shuttled resources in hardware and Artificial Intelligence, and that has made Google one the most influential companies in the world. According to a Bloomberg report, Google’s stock has risen about 50 percent ever since he took over the reins of the search engine.
While critics may say that being a board member might be a distraction for Pichai, since even Alphabet has not been doing too well recently; but as of now, Google’s move seems to be a reward for him for the good work he has done at the company. Alphabet CEO Larry Page in a blog wrote: “Sundar has been doing a great job as Google’s CEO, driving strong growth, partnerships, and tremendous product innovation. I really enjoy working with him and I’m excited that he is joining the Alphabet board.” Pichai rising importance in the company shows the level of trust Page and Sergey Brin have in him. Here is a look at how Pichai gained the confidence of Google founders and how he became a popular name in the world of technology.
Sundar Pichai, a shy boy, was born in 1972 and grew up in Chennai. An IIT Kharagpur alumnus, he later attended Stanford for MS and Wharton for his MBA. Pichai’s father was an engineer with GEC. Before he joined Google, Pichai worked in engineering and product management at Applied Materials and in management consulting at McKinsey & Company.
You may like to watch this video on Sundar Pichai:
Pichai joined Google in 2004 and was the driving force behind Google Chrome browser and the Chrome OS. Initially, Pichai started with handling the ‘Google’ search toolbar which used to appear at the upper right corner of Web browsers, well before the launch of Google’s own browser. This was the time when Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was still dominant across the world. The success of the Google Toolbar was what helped build his reputation at the company. In 2008, the Google Chrome browser was launched by Pichai’s team. In 2011, Pichai was promoted to Senior VP and also took charge of Gmail and Google Docs.
But perhaps the biggest responsibility that Pichai was given was Android in 2013 when he replaced Andy Rubin, the man who developed the mobile OS. Pichai continued to be in charge of Chrome too. His promotion was seen as a sign that Google might eventually merge Android, its very successful mobile OS, with the Chrome OS. At the end of 2014, Pichai was made the Google Product head, the lone exception being YouTube’s Susan Wojcicki, directly reported to Larry Page. In August 2015, Pichai was named the CEO of Google itself, a promotion that was inevitable.
You may also like to watch Sundar Pichai speak at I/O 2017 Keynote:
Pichai’s dominance at Google has been very visible even since his promotion as Android head, much before he became the CEO. In fact, he became the sole face of Google, even at its annual I/O developer conference, which is one of the most awaited and watched events from the company.
How did Sundar Pichai rise in Google?
Several profiles and reports are currently flooding the internet which praise the Google Boss. Sundar Pichai is a known team player and one who can handle tough negotiations. A profile on The Information pointed out that when Pichai reported to Marissa Mayer (who is now the Yahoo CEO), he was known to wait for long hours outside her office in order to ensure that his team got the performance scores they deserved. Additionally, what helped Pichai was his nice-guy nature and the fact that he retained the best of his team. A post on Quora by a former Google employee, which had been written at the time of Pichai’s promotion to Google Product Head, said Pichai ‘avoided making enemies’ at the company and ‘navigated’ Google’s ‘politics to make his team successful’.
One profile on Fortune noted that Pichai was ‘universally well-liked at Google’. More importantly, Pichai had come to be Page’s right-hand man and even accompanied the former Google CEO when the latter was trying to acquire WhatsApp, according to the report on The Information. Another BusinessWeek profile pointed out that Pichai had led the negotiations when Samsung and Google’s relationship had taken a turn for the worse over the South-Korean company’s launch of its own Magazine app with the Galaxy Note 3. Of course, for India Pichai’s promotion also means a lot. After all, he heads, arguably the most important technology company in the world.