- Google CEO Sundar Pichai will take on the role of CEO at the parent company Alphabet in a shake-up at the top of the Silicon Valley giant, the company announced Tuesday.
- Page and co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin, “will continue to be involved as co-founders, investors and board members of Alphabet,” the company said.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai will take on the role of CEO at the parent company Alphabet in a shake-up at the top of the Silicon Valley giant, the company announced Tuesday.
Pichai will take over from the internet giant’s co-founder Larry Page at the holding company that comprises Google as well as divisions focused on “other investments” in fields such as self-driving cars and life sciences.
Page and co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin, “will continue to be involved as co-founders, investors and board members of Alphabet,” the company said.
Page and Brin wrote in a letter to employees: “We’ve never been the ones to hold on to management roles when we think there’s a better way to run the business.”
They added that Pichai “brings modesty and a deep passion for technology every day to our customers, partners, and employees” and that there’s “no better person to lead Google and Alphabet into the future.”
The alphabet was founded in 2015, giving the original company Google a separate identity, as well as other ventures such as Waymo autonomous car system and Sidewalk Labs smart cities.
Born in India, the 47-year-old Pichai takes the helm at a time when Page and Brin were noticeably absent and the company is facing a torrent of controversy over its dominant position in the tech world.
In the face of antitrust investigations and controversies over privacy and data practices in the United States and elsewhere, Pichai is likely to fill a gap at the company.
The business also faced accusations of failing to address sexual harassment appropriately in the workplace and straying from the values adopted by the founders in the early code of conduct of the organization, which included the maxim “do not be evil.”
“He’s a technologist, but for the past few years he’s been a steady hand and has shown his ability to conduct business at the highest level,” said Roger Kay, an analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates.
Kay said the change “ratifies that the founders (Google) have almost completely stepped aside.” Pichai will have a new role as he faces President Donald Trump’s allegations of “bias” in internet search results, and Amnesty International’s current complaint that his business model contributes to violations of human rights by requiring user surveillance.
Pichai met with Trump earlier this year and seemed to alleviate the fears of the U.S. president that Google was unwilling to help the U.S. military but was supporting China and its military.
Following the March meeting, Trump tweeted that Pichai had been “completely committed” to US security.
Pichai remained calm last December when he parried US senators over political bias allegations and invasive data gathering.
“We’re building our products neutrally,” Pichai said in one exchange with a lawmaker, adding later: “We’re approaching our work without any political bias.”
Chennai to Silicon Valley
Born from humble beginnings in Chennai’s southern city, he studied engineering at Kharagpur’s Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) before moving to the United States to pursue his studies and career.
He attended Stanford University after leaving India and later studied at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
Alphabet has become one of the most valuable companies in the world in recent years, with a gain of nearly $30 billion in revenue of $110 billion in 2018.
The reorganization of 2015 appeared to install the start-up mentality for new ventures, described as “moonshots” by Google.
These undertakings, including Verily’s life sciences group and Calico’s biotech operation, lost money.
Kay said the “other bets” are struggling because even though they have the financial support of other startups from Google’s profits “they don’t have the do-or-die dimension.”