Ten things we need to know about Sundar Pichai

Asmita Bakshi
Asmita BakshiAug 11, 2015 | 13:05

Ten things we need to know about Sundar Pichai

Google fans woke up to a surprise restructuring on Monday (Tuesday in India). One that the search-focused Google will now be a subsidiary of a new parent company called Alphabet Inc headed by the CEO of Google Larry Page. And replacing Page as the CEO of Google is India-born Sundar Pichai. From discovering what technology can do through a rotary telephone to running the show for Android - the most popular mobile OS, Google's newest CEO has come a long way.


1. Sundar Pichai was born in Chennai and his family of four (Pichai, his mother, his father and younger brother) lived in a two-room apartment. Pichai was the captain of his school cricket team and under him, the crew won several competitions in the region.

2. Growing up, Pichai had neither a television nor did his family own a car. They would either all hop on to their blue Lambretta scooter or use public transport.

3. The two sons slept in the living room. Pichai's mother was a stenographer until she had her sons and his father was an electrical engineer for the British conglomerate GEC and managed a factory that made electrical components. His father introduced him to technology, by sharing stories and challenges he faced during his work day.

4. For Pichai, the wonders of technology were revealed to him when the family bought their first telephone. Pichai was just 12 years old and the rotary helped him realise his talent for numerical recall. He could remember every number he dialled, but did not know at the time, how useful this skill would be in the future.

5. He studied metallurgical engineering at IIT Kharagpur and was described by his teachers as "the brightest of his batch". He eventually earned himself a scholarship at Stanford.


6. His father, Regunatha Pichai applied for a loan in order to pay for his air tickets and other miscellaneous expenses. When it didn't come through, Regunatha withdrew the required amount from the family's savings - it was more than his annual salary.

7. Pichai surprised his parents - though probably not pleasantly at the time - by dropping out of Stanford to work as an engineer and product manager at Applied Materials, a semiconductor maker in Silicon Valley. However, he got an MBA from Wharton in 2002 and did a stint at McKinsey as a consultant.

8. In 2004, Pichai joined Google and was part of a team that worked on Google's search toolbar. He later proposed that Google create its own browser, for which he won the support of all the co-founders, but an objection from then CEO Eric Schmidt. Today, according to Adobe, Google Chrome holds 32 per cent of the browser market on phones and desktop PC.

9. Another product under Pichai's watch was Android, the world's most popular mobile operating system. In 2012 Google announced a version of Pichai's Chrome browser for Android, which would replace the mobile browser Rubin had developed within his own group. Andy Rubin founded Android in 2003 and sold it to Google in 2005, after which he successfully navigated the OS to keep Apple from dominating the market for the next eight years. In 2013, Page handed responsibility for Android over to Pichai, when Rubin felt he would be unable to integrate Android with the rest of Google.


10. Though Google usually waits until the fall to announce their annual version of Android, Pichai previewed the next release at Google's annual developer event, I/O, in May. This change in timing, which seems like no big deal, actually addresses a large problem Android hardware makers face - which was that an announcement the fall gave them no time to prepare for the holidays and it put them at a disadvantage to the company selected every year to develop a phone in partnership with Google.

Last updated: August 11, 2015 | 16:05
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