Google's new chief Sundar Pichai: Three things you need to know about the top boss after Alphabet restructure

 
Lynsey Barber
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Sundar Pichai has been elevated to the top at Google (Source: Getty)

In a shock move, Google has announced it will become just a part of a new corporate holding company named Alphabet, which will encompass everything from artificial intelligence company Deep Mind to restaurant reviews site Zagat.

Read more: Alphabet soup? Here's what the new Google looks like

The company added that with co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page taking the reins of Alphabet, the chief executive shaped-hole left in Google will be filled by product boss Sundar Pichai. Here's what you need to know about the newly anointed one.

1. Chrome made his name

The now 42 year-old made his name with the Chrome web browser. It may now be ubiquitous, but Google wasn't too sure about getting into the browser business at first.

Pichai joined Google in 2004 to work on the Google search toolbar which sits in other web browsers such as Firefox and Internet Explorer.

His idea for Chrome came to fruition four years later, although then-chief exec (now executive chairman) Eric Schmidt first thought it would be an "expensive distraction", according to this Bloomberg profile.

Its success - manifested in millions of users and it becoming "hugely profitable" - elevated Pichai from a softly spoken middle manager to the so-called "L-suite", the group of executives reporting directly to Larry Page.

2. The most powerful man in mobile

In the same profile of Pichai by Bloomberg last year, he was crowned the most powerful man in mobile. That's no small feat.

After Chrome came the Chromebook, the laptop without a traditional operating system which runs directly from the internet; and Chromecast, the media streaming device which connects to your TV.

He picked up responsibility for Google apps and Gmail, and by early 2013, took charge of Android, Google's mobile business.

Then, late last year as part of another rejig, Page put Pichai in charge of the entire Google product portfolio, adding research, search, maps, Google+, commerce ad products and infrastructure to the gig.

3. He's in demand

The unassuming but talented executive, who grew up in Tamil Nadu and attended Stanford and Wharton Business School, has been linked with some of the top jobs in tech, albeit speculatively. He was said to have been the external frontrunner to replace Steve Ballmer at Microsoft, but was beaten to that job by internal man Satya Nadella.

Elsewhere, Twitter has a product development problem - and who better than a product manager to steer the troubled social media giant? Some have speculated the shake-up stopped an exit from Google by Pichai from happening.

In June, Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr, an investor in Twitter and Google who has sat on the search giant board since 1999, pointed to Pichai as one of his candidate picks. At the same time, former Twitter platform director Ryan Sarver, now a partner at Redpoint Ventures, revealed Twitter tried to recruit Pichai for its top product role "years ago" but "Google fought hard to keep him".

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