In a strictly technical, definitional sense, this is an “era-changing” moment because there’s a new CEO for Alphabet. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of the company, are stepping back from running things and any time the founders change jobs, it means something. Arriving randomly on a Tuesday afternoon, it felt surprising and big.
Alphabet was formed in 2015 as a weird holding company for Google, designed in part to distance Page and Brin’s various pet projects from Google’s core business. That’s when Pichai was put in charge of Google as the CEO. Since then, I think Pichai’s tenure has been marked by a few major stories that are really the same story: he has spent a significant chunk of his time cleaning up the messes that resulted from Google’s culture up to that point.
Pichai’s rise through Google’s ranks was well deserved because he has calmly and consistently delivered good products. From the very first Google Toolbar to Chrome to Google’s online apps to ordering its scattered hardware efforts, he steadily took on more of Google’s user-facing products until, eventually, he took on the job of CEO.
All of the stuff Google made was innovative and smart but also directionless and unpolished. Pichai’s job was to take Google’s products out of permanent beta. At the same time, he’s had to ensure future technologies — especially those based on AI — turned into real products. From a purely product perspective, which of course includes the lucrative ad products that make the whole thing go, Pichai has been very successful.
Things are changing and this is an amazing time to do amazing things!