Meet Sundar Pichai: The journey of an average Chennai boy becoming the new Google CEO
Google today announced the formation of Alphabet that would be the holding company of all Google divisions. Along with this, the company also announced Sundar Pichai would be the CEO of Google under Alphabet. The 43-year-old joined the company in 2004, and formerly oversaw the development of many products like Gmail, Google Maps, Chrome OS and Android before becoming the CEO of one the biggest tech company’s in the world.
Pichai Sundararajan was born in Chennai on July 12, 1972. He did his schooling from Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan Nungambakkam, where he was considered as the brightest in his batch. Pichai developed his curiosity for tech from his father, who discussed his job as an electric engineer with his son everyday. He told him about his everyday challenges, seeding the initial interest in the engineering world.
“Even at a young age, he was curious about my work. I think it really attracted to him to technology,” Pichai’s father Regunatha told Bloomberg.
Pichai lived an average Indian life for most of his young days, with his father owning a two room apartment in Chennai. The family didn’t own a television set or a car till very late, and just had a blue Lambretta scooter as a vehicle to move about.
At the age of 12, the Pichai got their first telephone. His father details that Pichai had a knack of remembering telephone numbers, and could remember every phone number he ever dialed. Pichai went on to study Metallurgical Engineering from IIT Kharagpur and then flew to Stanford University to study his MS in Material Sciences and Engineering. He previously worked in engineering and product management at Applied Materials and in management consulting at McKinsey & Company, before joining Google in 2004.
Pichai began his career at Google by heading the teams behind Google’s Chrome browser and operating system. Soon he got the added responsibility of overseeing Google Toolbar and desktop search, among others. He convinced a number of manufacturers to install the Toolbar on their machines, which would result in Google search being easily accessible on hundreds of millions of desktops worldwide. In 2012 he was given charge of Google Apps after the then head Dave Girouard quit, and in 2013 he was given the reins of Android after Andy Rubin stepped down to work on other Google projects.
The growing popularity of the Chrome browser and Android increased his credibility in Google. He earned the reputation of being a ‘nice guy’, as he liked to stay away from politics. Pichai gained enough street cred in his years at Google, with Twitter asking him to lead Product and Microsoft also considering him as a top contender to replace Steve Ballmer as CEO.
Now that Pichai is CEO of Google, he is faced with a lot of challenges. From YouTube increasingly facing stiff competition from Facebook in the video space, to making sure that the new Android M OS rolling out later this year is a success – Pichai has his plate full.
For now, we hope that the new CEO keeps the innovation train moving – one of the key elements Google is known best for. All the best, Sundar Pichai!