SAN FRANCISCO — His name might not ring a bell, but chances are you know some of the products Google’s new CEO, Sundar Pichai, has worked on, including the Chrome browser and Android mobile operating system.
Pichai, 43, was named CEO of the Internet giant on Monday, as Google unveiled a new corporate structure creating an umbrella company called Alphabet. Pichai will oversee the biggest company under that umbrella, which will still be called Google and will continue to include some of Google’s best-known products, including its search engine, ads, maps, apps, YouTube and Android system.
Alphabet will be run by Google chief Larry Page, who showered praise upon Pichai, the current senior vice president of products.
“I feel very fortunate to have someone as talented as he is to run the slightly slimmed-down Google and this frees up time for me to continue to scale our aspirations,” Page said in a blog post.
He said he was impressed with Pichai’s “progress and dedication to the company” and promised to continue to groom him. “I have been spending quite a bit of time with Sundar, helping him and the company in any way I can, and I will, of course, continue to do that,” Page said.
In his current role, Pichai oversees product management, engineering and research for Google’s products and platforms, according to Google’s filing at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Before that, he was SVP of Google Android, Chrome and Apps, working on consumer products “used by millions of people,” the filing said.
Pichai was part of the team that launched the Chrome browser in 2008 and, prior to that, worked on various search products, including Google Toolbar, Desktop Search, Gadgets, and Google Gears and Gadgets, according to Business Insider magazine. Before joining Google, Pichai worked as an engineer at manufacturer Applied Materials, followed by a stint in management consulting at McKinsey & Company, according to Business Insider.
Congratulations poured in from around the business and technology worlds during the 24 hours after Page’s initial announcement.
Congrats @sundarpichai well deserved!— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) August 10, 2015
I am sure all IITs are celebrating today. Proud of you @sundarpichai— Padmasree (@Padmasree) August 11, 2015
Various media described him as soft-spoken, little-known and a long-time right-hand man to mentor Page. Growing up in Tamil Nadu province in southeast India, his family lived in a two-room apartment where he slept on the floor. He was attracted to technology partly because of his father’s job as an electrical engineer at a factory.
He received a Bachelor of Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, and later earned a Master of Science from Stanford University and a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
India has a population of a little more than 1.25 billion and produces about a million engineering graduates a year, Pichai among them. That has earned the country a reputation for its booming IT outsourcing business, thanks to its large English-educated workforce.
Vikram Dhawan, director of Equentis Capital in Mumbai said ambitious Indians often left for the United States and flourished in its aggressive corporate culture, rather than staying in India where companies have a tendency to keep positions in the family.
“I think one of the motivations of these very successful individuals for going overseas is because of the extremely meritocratic-based culture, against the Indian corporate system which is still pretty much family-driven,” he told AFP. “After having emerged from a system which can straitjacket you, you end up in a place where you’re judged by your capability and inherent qualities, and that’s why they tend to thrive overseas.”
Page said Pichai is the man to steer the Google ship in the coming years, as it continues to innovate and expand its product base.
“Google itself is also making all sorts of new products, and I know Sundar will always be focused on innovation — continuing to stretch boundaries,” he said. “I know he deeply cares that we can continue to make big strides on our core mission to organize the world’s information.”
Peter Hutchison contributed to this report
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015