A Closer Look at Sundar Pichai: From Middle Class Indian Upbringing to Google's Head Honcho

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Google and its parent company alphabet on the precipice of several major challenges regulators are expected to file antitrust lawsuits as early as this month and other example some faith company isn't as innovative as it used to be. A CEO of alphabet sooner Pechanga will play a key role in how the company navigates the headwinds, and while Pichai, is not nearly as in the spotlight as the other tech leaders. He's already had a long history Google, and by taking a look back, we can try and get some clues about how he might move the company forward a reporter Copeland joins us with an inside look rob. Thanks for joining me. Thank you. So, at the tech hearing before the House antitrust subcommittee earlier, this year Pichai himself as an immigrant sort of the picture of the American dream. And wonder if you could start by telling us more about the Chinese upbringing shore so Definitely outlier in many ways in Silicon Valley perhaps the most famous way that he stands out is that he was born in. India. So he grew up middle-class for India but not necessarily add western standards. He famously talks about growing up and getting in his first. Rotary phone. He is in such an older guy that the technology was just a lot less developed there. So he speaks frequently about the connection that he feels to technology and the knowledge that new technology can really change someone's life. So pettah eventually came to the US for Grad School. How do you find his Google? He worked relatively ordinary corp jobs until he joined Google right after its IPO google was not the Google that it is today it really was just a search engine. Quickly impresses people for his ability to one build consensus, which is true to this day, but also get the job done his first major job at Google. toolbar product. So before there was chrome there actually was an add on on your browser to search google. So his job was to convince companies like Dell when they sold you a laptop to have an automatic google search bar on there. So he's moved through the ranks since then becoming CEO of Google and then last year taking over as alphabet. CEO How did he make his way up the ladder? What's so remarkable is he's been at Google for sixteen years and we even though we're the Wall Street Journal have never done a full profile of him. So a big part of my task for the last few months was really unpacking who he is and how he got to this position and what really emerges is that Google was a place and still is a place with big personalities people who scream at each other people who say we should bet the farm on this or that and what sooner sort of did. was stay in the background, but he was also very careful that whatever he did it worked starting with toolbar but that extends to chrome the browser which he co lead and is now by far the most used web browser one of the big reveals of this reporting for me was that he's a very strategic person. It's not an accident that he stayed in the background for instance, someone who used to report to him. Told me early on in a meeting with with Larry? Page. who was CEO of Google before soon Dr Sooner made sure that they never disagreed in front of Larry. He really didn't want anyone to see any cracks and this also emerges in a lot of the people I spoke to some of whom sooner himself suggested that I speak to. But then when I got on the phone with them, they didn't seem to know him personally well. So he he keeps it very close to the vest. So it sounds like he's pretty deft at navigating the company politics now that he's in the top spot. What's he known for as a leader? So to a man to a woman ever and I spoke to said that sooner has a tendency in the middle of meetings to stand up and begin pacing in the middle of your presentation. He won't say anything necessarily sign that he likes or doesn't like it. It's just signed that he's thinking. So you can imagine people have spent weeks preparing for the CEO and he leaps up in the middle just starts pacing it can be quite disarming frankly this comes back to the criticism. Of Soon Dr to standing up in the middle of meeting and pacing as you think is not necessarily your traditional hey drive the car forward leadership. There's a big knock at Google today it's that and this comes from investors analysts even some executives of the company it's that the company is pretty much operating on autopilot. It makes almost all of its money from online advertising and you don't really have to do much besides sit there and the money comes in adding an extra add to youtube isn't exactly a high level. Decision. So the criticism is that sooner hasn't necessarily made the big move to position Google for the next decade on the other hand. When you have such a head start that Google has just not messing up is a billion dollar proposition. And what about as a coworker? What's he known for that? The best thing that's has going for him is that people genuinely like him in fact, one of his deputies Caesar. Gupta told me he loved sooner Pichai. He said the reason I stayed at Google this long as because of Dr He's someone that I trust. He moved to Jakarta because soon are asked him to. People. Say in this world where everyone is obsessed with Silicon Valley with what is happening in Menlo Park and Palo Alto and San Francisco that soon Dr a truly global outlook that he cares for instance, about Google pay in India where there are many multiples number of people using payment products in there are in the US. But tacitus surly had as much investment and one of the really fun things that is in the story is he's very much a creature of habit. You can imagine your CEO of of Alphabet you're traveling the world whenever he's in Korea he goes to the same burrito place an orders, the same Veggie Burrito. And in this world of he's hard-driving CEOS who appear in TMZ or go through high profile divorces. Everyone says that sooner Chai's legitimately just a kind nice guy.

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