Sundar Pichai’s recent promotion to the CEO of Google is anything but a surprise — at least for one former employee.
An ex-Googler who requested to remain anonymous said Pichai has shown that he’s “CEO material” over the past few years. This person left the company recently after working at Google for several years.
“If you look at how he’s kind of risen with Chrome, and then getting Chrome and Android, and being able to grow a lot of that under his tenure, it was very clear to anyone that he was being groomed for CEO,” this person said, who previously worked with Pichai. “It’s not a surprise to me.”
Sundar Pichai started at Google in 2004, when he was hired as the vice president of product management for Chrome. Over the years he’s gained a ton of responsibility at Google, and in October he was put in charge of most of Google’s core products, including Maps, Search, and commerce in addition to Chrome and Android.
Earlier this week Google announced a major change to its structure: Larry Page will lead a new company called Alphabet that’s more broad and contains a bunch of Google companies such as Life Sciences. Google is now a subsidiary of Alphabet, and Pichai is Google’s new CEO.
From what we’ve heard, it sounds like Google employees have been excited about working with Pichai for years.
“People kind of gravitate towards him,” this person said. “I don’t know what it is, it’s kind of like there’s this weird gravitational pull, but people want to work with him. And it’s not just engineers or product. The marketing people respect him. Larry respects him, the entire leadership.”
This is likely because Pichai is excellent at getting to the point, and Googlers feel like they can learn a lot from him. Here’s how our source described a meeting with Pichai in which they reviewed a script for a presentation at Google I/O about three years ago.
He’s just very good at asking the right questions. He uses his words very wisely in the sense that there’s no fluff with his words. It’s not like he’s blunt; he’s eloquent to the point that every word matters and has impact, and he asks questions that way. It’s actually at a point where he would ask a serious of questions and it would be really insightful for any of us to think about…He just has this ability to take all of these disparate things or grasp tons of information, but then be able to distill it into the one or two points that actually matter. He can do that with anything I’ve seen.
The new structure is a big change to the way Google operates, but the company has discussed the shakeup over the past four years, as Business Insider’s Jillian D’Onfro reported.
Our source says Googlers are accustomed to frequent change:
“The internal joke within [Google] was if you’re not moving your desk every six months, something was wrong with the company.”