The man from Chennai who has become de facto No.2 at Google

26 Oct 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

Android ambassador Sundar Pichai gets his due.

The India-born executive will have oversight over products such as search, maps, Google+, commerce, advertising and infrastructure, according to a Google spokesman. A graduate of the IIT, Kharagpur, Pichai joined Google in 2004; he worked on Chrome at a time when people asked whether the world really needed another browser.When Google’s Sundar Pichai visited India about a month ago, one question that came up repeatedly was whether he was in line to assume the top job at the company. Six executives who previously reported to Page, including the heads of research, social media and search, will now report to Pichai, according to Re/code, which first reported the change on Friday, citing an internal memo.

Photo: “So so proud of +Alan Eustace (a senior vice-president at Google Inc who) broke the world record today (on 24 October) for high altitude jump and somehow managed to do his work meetings between his jumps…” Chennai-born P. The change will free Page from having as many direct reports and product units to oversee so that he can better focus on “the bigger picture,” according to the Re/code report, which also cited anonymous sources.

And, Google is a place where I can have a long-term vision of computing, and a humbling place to be…Larry (Page) is committed to the very long term. The move puts Pichai, 42, in charge of many of Google’s main services, including its core search and advertising units, which generate the bulk of the company’s revenue. Chief business officer Nikesh Arora departed unexpectedly in July to become vice-chairman of Japan’s SoftBank Corp and was replaced by long-time Google executive Omid Kordestani. Pichai’s empire – which already includes the Android and Chrome products, along with Google Apps like Google Docs and Gmail – will now include Research, Search, Maps, the social media network Google Plus, along with Commerce.

He will also oversee technical infrastructure, which is essentially the ever-growing racks of servers and switches that keep all those products working. After all, he is controlling most of the company as its operations man, leaving co-founder and chief executive Larry Page with more time to focus on the “big picture”. It seems Page, who started the search engine giant with Sergey Brin, wants to devote his energy towards building the Google of tomorrow, through restructuring. The inbox can be organized into tabs like Social and Promotions, or into sections like Unread, Starred, and Important—building on some of the features that users currently have. Google X, the division responsible for the big gambles being taken at Google — glass and self-driving cars — along with digital-thermostat maker Nest Labs, which is dabbling in the ‘internet of things’, will be under Page’s watch.

Around that time, his name was also being mentioned as a potential co-CEO of Microsoft Corp., which eventually announced in February that another Indian, Satya Nadella, would lead the company. Since taking over the division from Andy Rubin, he has worked towards bettering the collaboration between various Google departments on Android, as well as the company’s relations with key partners such as Samsung. Perhaps, it is this acumen for maneuvering difficult situations and running day-to-day operations that makes Pichai and Page such great partners — the former is an ace executor and the latter, a technology visionary.

On 15 September, Pichai was in India to promote the company’s low-cost Android One smartphones, perhaps the first time in the history of personal computing that a global technology firm chose to launch a product in India first and take it to other countries at a later date. “Computing is integral to people’s lives. Page wants Google to make decisions faster, while freeing himself of iterative decisions – like a new Gmail feature – so he can spend more time on its growing list of big bets. Silicon Valley is like a city built on landfill: Each new company is sitting on the bones of another, and with each big shift, an old champion is overshadowed by a younger company. The worldwide smartphone market grew 25.3% in the June quarter of 2014 over a year ago, establishing a new single quarter record of 301.3 million shipments, according to data from research firm International Data Corporation (IDC).

After KitKat, Google has launched its latest Android L or 5.0, officially called Lollipop—an update that will offer Google’s new material design features, improved battery life, enhanced security features and smarter notifications. Having captured nearly 80% of the global smartphone and tablet OS market, Lollipop will only help it strengthen its presence in the global devices market, extending Google’s reach to the living room in a post-PC (personal computer) era by powering watches and eventually televisions and cars too—an area which Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. too have been eyeing for the last few years. Page has chastised analysts for questioning the company’s propensity to spend vast sums of money on investments for which there are no clear returns.

Page made some philosophical points about aging into adolescence, and how incremental thinking could quickly lead to irrelevance, according to people with knowledge of the situation. This week, Google led a $542 million investment in Magic Leap, a secretive augmented reality company that has no products and no revenue but, according to some, could be the basis for a new kind of operating system.

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