Google just placed a lot of power in one man’s hands.
Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page offloaded his day-to-day responsibilities to Sundar Pichai, the search company’s biggest rising star, while he shifts his focus to the “bigger picture.” The restructuring of Google’s top management was first reported by Re/code..
Pichai, who already oversees Google’s operations for Android, Chrome and the company’s suite of web apps such as Gmail and Google Drive, will also now be in charge of six other divisions, including search, research, maps, Google+, infrastructure and ad products.
The shakeup seems to be borne of Page’s concern that Google is becoming less innovative as it grows older. As Silicon Valley’s most influential company grows bigger, product development has slowed and bureaucratic wars have broken out as responsibilities begin to overlap. Pichai, a well-loved executive at Google, is known for his thoughtful and diplomatic leadership style that is useful in smoothing over internal squabbles that could impede the pace of innovation.
Pichai’s title of senior vice president will remain unchanged and he will report directly to Page himself. The six executives heading the divisions will now report to Pichai. Page, on the other hand, will focus his sights on other projects the company is working on, including the moonshots under Google X, access and energy which includes Google Fiber, smart home automation Nest, biotechnology innovations under Calico, as well as Google’s business, legal and finance operations.
“This plays to the strengths of Sundar and Larry,” a person familiar with Google says. “Sundar is a proven product guy and Larry is a visionary.”
Not included in Pichai’s plate, however, is the vastly independent YouTube, which remains under the oversight of Google veteran and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.
After working at Applied Materials and McKinsey & Co., Pichai joined Google in 2004 to lead the team that released the Chrome browser and the Chromebook line of computers. In 2012, he was named head of Google Apps after the division’s former head Dave Girouard left to start his own company. A year later, Pichai again added another slice to his growing plate of responsibilities when former Android head Andy Rubin stepped down to work on Google’s moonshots.
Pichai was clearly the star of the show at this year’s Google I/O developer conference, where he was the keynote’s master of ceremonies and demonstrated the latest developments in Android and Chrome. With Pichai at the helm, there have been speculations of a merged operating system which hasn’t happened yet, though the lines have become blurred.
Outside of Google, Pichai remains popular. He was one of the top contenders being considered for the CEO position at Microsoft before Satya Nadella took over. Twitter was also said to have offered Pichai a key position in the company’s upper echelon.