Indian-born Google executive Sundar Pichai was on Friday named the company’s product czar heading maps, searches, Google+, commerce, ads and infrastructure.
He gets to keep Chrome, Android and Google Apps. All this real estate makes Pichai one of Google’s most powerful executives, after co-founder and CEO Larry Page.
And questions will inevitably be asked if the promotion meant he was being groomed as heir. Re/Code, which reported the restructuring first, said, citing sources, it didn’t.
Page has been telling staff that he wanted to free himself from routine chores, with so many executives reporting to him, to focus on the “bigger picture”.
He did just that handing over products to Pichai, the well-liked executive who has been picking his way up the Google hierarchy since joining the company in 2004.
Born in Chennai and educated at IIT Kharagpur, Pichai has built himself a formidable reputation in Silicon Valley. Twitter tried to hire him for a senior products position.
And his name figured prominently in the race for the top job at Microsoft, which eventually went to another Indian American, Satya Nadella, born and raised in Andhra Pradesh.
Pichai’s career at Google took flight from his time at Chrome, which he launched and turned into a major success. Then he picked up Google Apps and Android, in that order.
He is now the highest ranking Indian American at Google, which was earlier Nikesh Arora, as long-time chief business officer. He has left since to head SoftBank.
Other Indian Americans in leadership positions at the search giant are Amit Singhal, senior VP for search and Google Fellow; and Sridhar Ramaswamy, senior VP for Ads and commerce.
They will both report to Pichai now, with other products heads.