Sundar Pichai, formerly the SVP of Android, Chrome, and Google Apps, recently catapulted into a new position overseeing all of Google’s branded products, while CEO Larry Page takes a step back to focus on the “bigger picture.”
In his memo to employees about Pichai’s new role, Page said of Pichai, “We very much see eye-to-eye when it comes to product, which makes him the perfect fit for this role.”
Those who have worked with him say Pichai is incredibly smart, collaborative, and empathetic, but he also has another unique skill: He knows how to translate CEO Larry Page.
One story a source told us summed up that idea perfectly.
About eight months ago there was a planning meeting with a bunch of VPs and directors from across products to discuss several secret projects and they were all squabbling.
Then, Larry Page walked in. He started talking about abstract concepts and big ideas, unrelated to the established engineering roadmap and introducing aspects the teams hadn’t expected. Everyone was shocked into silence and Page walked out without getting a single question.
A minute later, Pichai walked in and broke everything down: “I talked to Larry, and I think what he means is this…”
After that meeting concluded, Pichai hopped between the different teams and helped them figure out how they would move forward on the projects together.
“He’s like the Aaron to Larry’s Moses,” our source says, meaning that Pichai often acted as a spokesperson for Page. By not only interpreting Page’s vision but then coordinating efforts between groups, Pichai may have already been stepping into his role before it was officially given to him.
“He’s particularly good at managing Larry,” another source agreed. “He has a great ability to listen to what Larry wants to have done, and either convincing him that that’s actually happening by saying ‘Here’s how it’s getting done,’ or by going out and making sure it gets done.”