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Sundar Pichai Now Leads Alphabet Into Future But Faces Challenges

Google CEO has been handed the reigns of Alphabet but he faces quite a few challenges which need to addressed.

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Tech News
3 min read
Sundar Pichai now heads both Google and Alphabet.
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On 3 December, Google CEO Sundar Pichai was made the head of parent company Alphabet as well. But the bigger news here is that co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have officially given up on their public duties for the company they started from a garage in Silicon Valley more than two decades back.

But it seems that the change at helm has been in the works for a while, and Pichai, after becoming the CEO of Google was most likely being groomed for this day.

However, the change brings about different questions, especially with respect to the role of both Sergey and Larry, and what’s their main reason for letting one man take the reigns of Google as well as Alphabet.

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It’s hard to ignore that Google’s co-founders are relinquishing their executive positions just as state and federal regulators, not to mention the Department of Justice and Congress, are taking a keen interest in possible abuse of its privacy practices and market power.

Google is facing increasing criticism and investigations from authorities in the U.S. and Europe about its privacy policies and nature of its many-legged business. That will now fall to Pichai to wrangle and push through — though Brin and Page, both 46, have noticeably backed out of the spotlight already.

Although longtime tech analyst Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies said he doesn’t believe Brin and Page are leaving “because the fire is getting hotter,” he said Pichai's role at Google has been preparing him for the increased government scrutiny.

Sergey Brin and Larry Page decide to let Pichai run their co-founded company.
Sergey Brin and Larry Page decide to let Pichai run their co-founded company.
(Photo: AP)

Last year, Google raised hackles in Congress by refusing to send Page or Pichai to a hearing on Russian manipulation of internet services to sway U.S. elections. Congressional officials left an empty chair for Page at the witness table; top executives from Facebook and Twitter, meanwhile, turned up to testify. Offended lawmakers derided Google as “arrogant.”

All this means that Pichai, as pointed out in this Bloomberg report, faces technological, political and cultural challenges, and has been tasked with restoring Google back to its hay days, sans the criticism and scrutiny.

Pichai has been at Google for 15 years, and from working on the Chrome browser to overseeing the development of Android, his role and stature at the company has risen manifold.

Bigger Things to Come

Pichai testified before Congress last December for the first time, defending the company against claims from Republicans that the search service is biased against conservatives.

That hearing was definitely a teaser for things to come, and Pichai would have surely known what he was signing up for, while agreeing to become the head of Alphabet. More importantly, he’ll be expected to manage to deal with the demands of various government, who’re now scrutinising the power at hands of all the tech companies.

Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google hosting the I/O keynote.
Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google hosting the I/O keynote.
(Photo Courtesy: Google)

Alphabet — an umbrella corporation that the two created in 2015 — still recognises Google as its chief money maker. But it's also made up of what are known as "other bets," or long shot projects. That includes drone company Wing and self-driving car firm Waymo.

Page and Brin, in announcing the news Tuesday, said the company has "evolved and matured" in the two decades since its founding. Both promised to stay active as board members and shareholders.

So, now the question is, whether Pichai, who has relatively held a clean slate during all of this, will be able to tackle the controversy surrounding the tech company and keep its strong growth intact.

(With inputs from AP)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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