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Searching For Google CEO Sundar Pichai, The Most Powerful Tech Giant You've Never Heard Of


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Do most Americans even know that Larry Page isn't the CEO of Google any more? Do they know anything about the guy who is? He is leading Google into a more global, socio-economically diverse, product-driven, science obsessed, and mobile-focused new frontier.

He won't be able to stay anonymous for long. 

Google has seven different products that more than a billion people use: Search, Gmail, YouTube, Android, Chrome, Maps, and its app and media vending machine, the Google Play Store.

Sundar wants to make software for humans.

Pichai clearly understands there are all sorts of things we don’t want anyone to know. “We need to design systems so that we give people a very easy way to say, ‘I need to be off the grid, I need this to be private,’” he says over a smashed avocado at the Wynn, moments after being buttonholed by Barry Diller in a nearby hallway. Can Sundar Pichai transform Google’s image? Can he make you actually like Google again?

As Clay Bavor, who runs Google’s virtual reality efforts, says of Pichai’s approach to technology, “You want a deeply thoughtful, caring human person, thinking about those issues and leading the company making those things happen. I’m really glad that he, of all people, is Google’s CEO. That’s what I tell my friends.”

Sundar is all about product.

Pichai is clearly in the product camp. Under him Android has bloomed, going from a customizable but clunky interface to something beautiful and fluid. Chrome redefined how fast and invisible a browser could be. Google Photos transformed the way photography can be organized and displayed in the smartphone era. Yet now he needs to not only focus on product, but manage Google’s massive advertising business as well.

“The thing within product that really appeals to me is when you can distill something complex to a reductionist, simple thing,” he says.” Google Search was that way for me. There’s so much complexity within Google Search but for most people it’s just a simple search box. Simplicity is hard to articulate, but anytime you can make anything simpler users respond to it.”

Pichai says he now thinks about Google the company as a product unto itself. “I think a lot about simplicity in the context of Google, too. Large things inherently tend to get more complex; it’s how things work. How do you simplify? It’s hard.”

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