Google's new CEO, Sundar Pichai, has an amazing story and I wanted to share it with you

Google's announcement of Alphabet today caused quite a stir. If you didn't hear, there's a new boss in town for the company. His name is the incredible Sundar Pichai. Ok before I go any further, let me catch you guys up quickly - Alphabet is an umbrella company that will be lead by former Google CEO Larry Page and Google founder, Sergey Brin and Google will now be one of the companies under that umbrella with Sundar as the CEO of Google. Does that make sense? If not, here's more info on that. Now, what does this mean for Google? It means, simply, that Google will now be a leaner organization with the ability to focus on their core product with Mr. Pichai at the helm. Everyone is talking about the announcement and there are many news articles you can find online about it but I didn't notice a lot in terms of who Sundar Pichai really is and what's his story. I was curious and wow, he has a beautiful one that got me inspired to write this. Below is his story broken down into smaller parts for easy digestion. PS: If I missed out anything, let me know, I'll put it in :)

From humble beginnings: India to Stanford

I hope my heading didn't kill the suspense, but don't worry, there's a twist in that story which I will get to. With a brother and his parents, Sundar grew up in Chennai, India. His dad was an engineer and he'd always been curious about his father's job. He slept in the living room with his brother in their small two bedroom apartment. For much of his childhood, they had no car or TV. Basically, he didn't have much growing up. He had to hustle and work hard to get what he wanted. With that being said, he was incredibly intelligent and unusually smart in one area - he had the ability to remember any number that was dialed on the phone. You may think that last fact was irrelevant. But it wasn't. He used his ability to memorize numbers when presenting stats in meetings. Can you imagine how smart you can sound if you can pull up crazy stats when trying to explain something? Anyhow, as expected, he did really well in school and got a scholarship to study at a very coveted school in Kharagpur, the Indian Insitute of Technology. He killed it there too and got another scholarship to Stanford University. Yep, Stanford. Here's a crazy part, his father tried to take a loan to help pay for his flight and other expenses but it didn't come through in time so he withdrew the money from his savings account. It was $1,000 and it was more than his annual salary. Bear in mind that $1,000 in India is a lot of money for them. "My dad and mom did what a lot of parents did at the time," Pichai says, "They sacrificed a lot of their life and used a lot of their disposable income to make sure their children were educated." At this time, I'd like to thank my mom and dad for using so much of their savings for my education. I really appreciate what you guys did and sacrificed for me and I hope I can make you proud :). When he arrived at Stanford in '93, he didn't have enough money to buy a backpack that costed $60. Ok, I can see that, $60 for a bag is a bit much. Anyway, while he was studying at Stanford, he surprisingly dropped out of school and went to work as an engineer and product manager at a Silicon Valley semiconductor maker company. He dropped out of Stanford guys. Who does that? I can only imagine how scared his parents must have been. In 2002 he got an MBA from Wharton School of Business. That is the end of his personal life. I don't want to share more because a) nobody really needs to know everything about a person, it's kind of scary and b) I shared the most interesting bits. As you can tell, I am having fun with this post. 

Next Stop: Google

Quick fun story - Pichai had his first interview with Google on April 1, 2004, the same day the company launched Gmail and thought it was one of those awesome pranks they pull. He started off in a small team working on Google's search toolbar giving people quick access to Google search. Out of this, he proposed that the company make their own browser, and got approval from the co-founders except, from then-CEO, Eric Schmidt. He felt it would be a distraction that could cost the company a lot of money. Google being Google still built a browser and it's known as Chrome. Something a third of us use. I used Chrome when writing this post and also use it when surfing the web. It's so easy, quick and seemless. Brilliant. Download it here if you want to try it. And no, Google doesn't pay me to say that. It's an honest recommendation. Anyway, boy was Mr. Eric Schmidt wrong. Chrome now has 32% of the browser market on mobile and desktop. That's more than Internet Explorer (not really difficult to beat IE), Firefox and Safari. That's one way to get attention of your superiors, my friends.

The King of Mobile

Sundar Pichai was then given the keys to Gmail and Google Docs in 2011. Again, he did an amazing job. So much so, CEO, Larry Page, made him in charge of Android. Larry Page said, "Pichai has deep technical expertise, a great product eye, and tremendous entrepreneurial flair. This is a rare combination, which is what makes him a great leader." That's a really nice thing someone can say about you. The fact that it was Larry Page who said it, makes it that much better. So, how did Android do? $60 billion in revenue in 2013 and the operating system runs on 1.2 billion devices worldwide. BILLION. In 2013, Android had 78.6% of the Smartphone's market share with iOS coming in second at 15.2%, Windows Phone at 3.3%, third being Blackberry 1.9% (that is such a shame) and 1.0% are other operating systems. I think he did just fine. Please note that was sarcasm, he did great!

Android's Market Share in 2013

Photo Credit: Bloomberg Business

He lead Android to be continuously successful and he then got dubbed 'The King of Mobile'. As he developed and continuously worked hard in the company, he played larger roles for Google. His goal with the company is very simple - give the power of Google and all the services it offers to everyone and anyone in the world, whether you're a billionaire or a farmer in rural Africa. In my eyes, the power of technology is phenomenal and we are seeing the technological revolution happen in front of us. Tech companies are 'teching' the world by storm (see what I did there). Amazon is valued more than Walmart and Apple is, well, Apple. They have more money than Greece and can bail them out no problem. It's an exciting time and we will see companies such as Google be at the helm of change. For example, Project Loon:

Why did they chose Sundar Pichai to be Google's new CEO?

Well, first off, his track record is impressive. Building Chrome, leading Android to be the most used mobile operating system in the world and working on Google docs and Gmail are just some of the things he did. He also did an amazing job at all of them. Ok, but Google is not all about results, it's also very important to be a good person. He is a universally liked individual in the company and everyone has nice things to say about him. Add that to his proven leadership skills, it sort of becomes a no brainer. I came across a thread on Quora that asked, "What did Sundar Pichai do to get promoted up to the highest ranks at Google?" I found one I thought was a great response to that question:

  1. Foremost: he led successful efforts for difficult projects that were core to Google's continued financial success, namely Toolbar and Chrome. Toolbar wasn't an obviously sexy product but it helped defend the presence of Google search on users' computers during a critical period following the revelation of Google's incredible profitability. Chrome extended that mission to improve the user experience of the entire web: keep users on the web and you'll keep them searching on Google.
  2. He recruited, mentored, and retained a great team. Sundar's team of product managers had a reputation as being among the best of the best, similar to the reputation of the software engineers within Search Quality.
  3. He avoided making enemies. Google has politics like any other large company, and Sundar navigated those politics to make his team successful while inflicting the least possible damage on any other team.   

With the memo Google released today on abc.xyz, Larry Page said, " Sundar has been saying the things I would have said (and sometimes better!) for quite some time now, and I’ve been tremendously enjoying our work together. He has really stepped up since October of last year, when he took on product and engineering responsibility for our internet businesses. Sergey and I have been super excited about his progress and dedication to the company. And it is clear to us and our board that it is time for Sundar to be CEO of Google." 

What's next for Google and final thoughts?

Google will continue as a trimmer organization and that's very important for Pichai. He can focus on a core product and scale it. With millions, and potentially a billion, more users expected to get online, Sundar Pichai has a lot to think about and figure out what direction Google takes. 

On a personal note, I am very happy for Sundar Pichai. It gives me hope, just like many others, that by being a good human being and working hard, you can make your dreams come true. Being honest with yourself and delivering above expectations, constantly, is all you need to do. It's not easy, but very straightforward. I plan to use this philosophy in my area of expertise. Work hard, take risks, do good, be honest and always over-perform! 

I really hope you enjoyed reading this. As always, please connect with me on Twitter or comment below! Let's talk about this, or if you have any feedback. That's cool too. 

Resources used:

abc.xyz
The Verge
Quora
The Guardian
Slate
Quartz
Bloomberg

 

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