Biography | Sundar Pichai – Chairman and CEO of Google


Sundar Pichai was born “Pichai Sundarajan” and had a humble childhood in Madurai, India. The son of a stenographer and an engineer, he grew up in a small rented apartment where there was neither fridge nor television when he was a child.  » My life was simple compared to today’s world “, he recalls in an interview granted to the New York Times in 2008. As a child, he even saw his house flooded.  » We were short of water. To this day I still sleep with a bottle on the side of my bed because of this.« , did he declare. His dream was to become a cricketer. His sporting career ambitions having failed to materialize, he majored in metallurgical engineering in India.

Sundar Pichai’s professional debut

Sundar Pichai graduated from Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur. After graduating in technology, he exhausts his family’s savings to continue his studies in the United States. He obtained a specialized master’s degree from Stanford University in Californiaas well as an MBA from Wharton Schoolfrom the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a scholarship holder. After earning his master’s degree in materials science from Stanford University, he decided to reverse the order of his name and henceforth call himself Sundar Pichai.

Sundar Pichai and the Google era

Sundar Pichai worked as an engineering consultant at McKinsey. At 47, he was given a very complex mission: to replace the old bosses Larry Page and Sergey Brin at the head of Alphabet, the holding company that controls Google. Previously, he had rubbed shoulders with these two people on the benches of the university in California.

During his first decade at GoogleSundar Pichai worked on several products which are today the spine of the company, as the Navigator web google Chromiumthe following Google Drive and courier service Gmail. He also had to replace technological legends: in 2013, he began to lead the development of the operating system Android, occupying the position of Andy Rubin, an engineer considered to be the father of the platform.

In two years, Sundar Pichai has grown the company, launched in 2008, from 1 billion to 1.8 billion devices worldwide. These good results allowed him to take control of Google in 2015, when Brin and Page decided to create the company structure Alphabet apart. With it, they were able to devote themselves to innovation and invest in future technologieslike the self-driving carswithout affecting the profits and dividends of the Google company.

More than a change in governance, this novelty has allowed Pichai to take his place in the limelight: he is in charge of the main events and declarations of Google for the company during testimonies in Washington, where Page and Brin have not intervened for years. In short, Sundar Pichai acts as the spokesperson for the company.

In 2019, Alphabet announced that Larry Page and Sergey Brin are stepping down as CEO and President of the company respectively. They will be replaced by Sundar Pichai, who will now combine both roles with the post of CEO of Google. The Page and Brin duo will remain active as co-founders, shareholders and board members.

Difficult phase

It is precisely in Washington that Pichai’s first big challenge, as sole leader of the company, will arise. Indeed, in recent years, Google has been heavily attacked by lawmakers due to its market power, unfair competition,data usage and even the political influence of the company in several countries, and the lawsuits it has spawned there.

Currently, the US Congress is investigating Google’s anti-competitive practices in several markets. Democratic presidential candidates also have the company in their sights. In the European Union, Google’s situation is not ideal either: it has already sued the company three times for unfair competition, with fines totaling more than 6 billion euros.

Challenges for Sundar Pichai

The emerging countries another challenge for Google. Indeed, it is in places like Brazil, India, Nigeria and Singapore, for example, that this company will be able to continue to increase the total number of its users, while being subject to more flexible local control. Due to his nationality, Pichai will sail better than his former bosses on these fronts. It will also have to figure out how to maintain targeted advertising, at a time when subjects, such as privacy data, are increasingly controversial.

Finally, he will have to face the pressure internal employees: lately, the protests of the « Googlers », the employees of the company, have intensified. The reasons are multiple: from the involvement of the company with the Chinese government in a secret project to the working conditions of the subcontractors, passing by the internal policy on the questions of moral and sexual harassment. For example, Google is often criticized for leaving Andy Rubin, Pichai’s predecessor on androidleaving the company with millions of euros in bonuses, even after being accused of sexually harassing a colleague.

Finally, theartificial intelligence has long been part of theDNA from Google. Indeed, the company has already shown itself ready to launch products that outperform the competition. Sundar Pichai is currently working on Google Home, their new product. It constitutes a new and interactive form of communication and can be used as a personal assistant. The object books flights, buys tickets, responds to messages, schedules tasks and ensures that nothing is forgotten. Google Home can not only suggest gifts for special dates, but also remind you to pack your bags for your next trip.


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