Where Will Sundar Pichai Take Google?

Alphabet’s new chief executive has a plate full of challenges. But it’s still a company with a lot of potential.

Comments: 34

  1. Years ago I opted in or did not opt out of every privacy protection Google promised just to see what happened. So far I have not had trouble with health insurance, black helicopters or anything else except targeted ads, and I find it hard to consider ads about things I am interested in an invasion of privacy. I guess I'll be a soft target when Alphabet takes over the world. Or, then again, I may be the kind of person it wants around.

  2. I think Mr. Pichai will take Google anywhere the prevailing laws allow. People should be terrified. Laws that govern the behavior of big tech are virtually absent.

  3. @Bill -------- But fancy-car dealers love how Google is making sure no one in D.C. cares about controlling Big Tech! Ka-ching!

  4. Please, let him be more socially responsible than the two founders. The maxim “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is inherent in Google’s claim of domination in computing.

  5. @Judith Nelson Unlikely. Google's recently-exposed test project for a search engine complaint with Chinese censorship happened entirely under Pichai.

  6. The founders' mistake was taking the company public. If they wanted it to remain 'Goggley', they should not have given in to the lure of a huge payout. They started as well-intentioned adventurers. I wish they had never hired Schmidt. They're doing a lot of bad things. All companies based in advertising eventually end up behaving badly, it seems. Regardless, in looking back through history, it is hard to find any well-intentioned founders that remained so over the long term. Once the dream is realized, they move on to the next dream. Hershey succombed as well. A better model might have been realized if they had created more spinoffs rather than engaging in buyouts. As much as I'd like to see quantum computing take off, I have less than zero confidence that Google will use it predominantly for good goals. That division should be spun off for sure. And the AI division, well, its a major problem for democracy and the US' interests.

  7. Google (and Alphabet) is a wonderful company, offering search about and around the world, and making our day to day lives more 'affordable', with a ready-made memory for those of us a bit short on it as age takes it's toll. Trouble is, in the midst of so much information, it has not been able to weed out false information as 'rudely' as needed...so we can trust it again. Conspiracy theories and even hate speech remain a pesky issue. If cleared sufficiently, we may yet convert the information provided into 'knowledge', even 'understanding'. But such a wisdom remains a dream for now, as policing internally to prevent abuse may sound akin to censorship to some....and antithetical to freedom of expression. Our wish is that whatever is put to 'paper' (cyber) reflects reality, and the truth; a high order, in constant flux, but worth every penny, for our redemption in being prudent in all we do (and doing what's right, however hard).

  8. I’ll believe that Google has their customers’ best interest in mind when they invite representatives of customers to board with majority voting rights.

  9. For his own legacy, Mr. Pichai could do worse than to restore the company to it's core principles of "don't be evil," recently revised to "do the right thing" for Alphabet. The "right thing for shareholders" is Alphabet's current model - that enables propaganda hooks to be baited on young minds between video/audio content on YouTube represented as "the facts you won't get anywhere else.." Try streaming some music for young ears and see who's buying ad time pushing their agendas. How is this OK? Assuming responsible stewardship for content would be a start.

  10. Sorry but I'm not a Google fan, I'm afraid tech will just end up with drones flying over our houses and no privacy whatsoever. I was excited for tech back in the 1980's and 1990's but now it has become just a big privacy violation...

  11. Not much here we didn't know. I'd thought from the headlines that Ms. Swisher had something to say about where the new CEO would take the company. It's tiresome, here and elsewhere, to see lists of problems (most of them slight), and of current initiatives in the broadest sense - really whole fields rather than initiatives. Where, indeed, will Mr. Pichai take the company? As a shareholder I'd like some original analysis.

  12. @Martin Daly As a shareholder, you should already be aware that Op/Ed writers are not Wall St. analysts. The insight you require is available via their quarterly analyst calls, various expensive tech conferences, and occasionally quiet drinks with targeted employees, just to name three sources. Ms. Swisher is an excellent reporter of Silicon Valley news, events and insight. However, in a highly competitive business such as super computing where the US competes toe-to-toe with global governments such as China and other entities, one hardly expects research secrets to be disclosed in the general media. And sadly of course, our enemies frequently employ industrial espionage techniques to steal the material you're seeking via hacking the internal systems of our most valuable companies and the Federal government. IP theft is one of the key negotiation points driving Tweety's "easy to win" trade war.

  13. This is another example of Asia-American men continuing their rise into the to corridors of corporate power. I've observed this trend in my professional life.....and I predict it will continue. In the near future, corporate America will not just be run by Euro-American men.....but also by Asian-American men. Or am I missing something here?

  14. @Kenneth Johnson It's called - the power of a good education!

  15. Don't get me wrong, humans were capable of being racist and evil in the era of the quill pen or the telegraph. But I fear that the kind of targeted advertising in the service of capitalism that is the core of Google's business is simply going to lead to more inequality. Google's tech might be better put to use in a more efficient type of command economy, substituting artificial intelligence for the remorseless hand of the free market, or the inefficiency of soviet style bureaucrats. Humans may not be able to figure out how to run an economy without gross inequality or unsustainable growth, but perhaps AI can.

  16. The question is......who is going to take the blame when Google can no longer achieve 30% growth and 30% profitability needed to maintain the sky high valuation. Get ready for monitization of every one of google's free services....maps, mail, phone, search, android......etc.

  17. "But in giving up their executive titles, Mr. Brin and Mr. Page will give up none of their power. The pair ... will remain on the board and will also continue to hold most of the company’s voting shares, giving them de facto control." Sounds like Mr. Pichai has landed himself a position that carries all of the responsibility, but none of the the power to carry out decisions that might make the company more responsible. I don't envy him in the least.

  18. I don't know how Kara Swisher thought Mr. Pichai is a nice guy. Maybe because he speaks in measured tones. Other than that, he comes across as a ruthless executive. Not that it is bad for a chief executive of MNC, but it does not definitely make him a nice guy. Contrast to Mr. Satya Nadella, who speaks about technology and is trying to reinvent Microsoft, Mr. Pichai has essentially handed over Google to bean counters. Like many commenters had noted elsewhere it seems Mr. Page and Mr. Brin are jumping ship, so to say, probably because the situation is irredeemable.

  19. "But in giving up their executive titles, Mr. Brin and Mr. Page will give up none of their power. The pair — who at times are still called “the boys” internally, even though they are both 46 — will remain on the board and will also continue to hold most of the company’s voting shares, giving them de facto control." Bingo. The answer to the headline is thus "wherever Page and Brin demand Pichai take Google". I'm convinced this is strictly a musical-chairs move, to head off criticism of the two (especially creepy Page, as Page's shout-chastened punching bag Brin[1] still has a sliver of soul) after both NYT's Privacy Project and their child-abuse images report series where one child's...soiled face didn't meet Google's "criteria" for removal. (Look it up.) Megacorps, and especially creepytech and marketing-NOT-tech ones, have shown time and again that titles (and laws) don't matter to them. As long as the two are still majority-owner directors, expect all that's wrong about them. Nice-Guy Pichai will be just like Nice-Guy Nadella, Medvedev to the putins behind the curtain. And they'll keep up the Real Name harassment, with or without Google+, without ACTUALLY fighting trolling and fascist lying wrongwingery. (Look under ANY YouTube CNN clip. Killing anonymity wonn't stop trolls, AT ALL.) If you never used Google, don't try now. Use the Duck, Luke. [1] https://web.archive.org/web/20150302080614/https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703309704575413553851854026

  20. Am I the only one who found this article astonishingly thin? I found myself waiting for an actual answer to the questions: Who is Pichai? What will he do?

  21. Yawn. Instead of doing no evil, maybe these two could do some actual good?

  22. Why was Sundar Pichai's "smartness" alluded to in this article? Is this going to be the equivalent of "athletic black quarterbacks" level of sports commentary, when it comes to minority CEOs?

  23. Hmm, no mention of surveillance capitalism. We need to start calling out these companies for what they are or things are going to get ugly.

  24. Both Microsoft and Google invested in personalities the founders can easily trample on. It gives them a diversity mask they can flog for domestic consumption and at the same time is an investment in purchasing access to the Indian market.

  25. Hmm. No mention of Red China? Google is all in for the Communist descendants of Mao Zhedong and the scary Big Brother noghtmare world that Beijing will use to comtrol its citizens (and millions of Westerners!) I personally think Google should be the first huge tech 'Standard Oil'-type monopoly to be cut into 4 to 8 pieces for different parts of the country (with all having a piece of the coasts.) Such a step may be our last chance to remain a country and not just so many accounts for Google to sell to perfect strangeras for billions of dollars a month.

  26. Not to slight anyone's reputation, but the notion that a 'nice guy' could ascend to this level is naive. Or perhaps it's all just relative. But there is too much money and power at stake for Mr. Pichai to not have worked the system to his own benefit and gained plenty of enemies and disgruntled rivals along the way. I'm an Architect who as worked for plenty of valley tech firms in my career and I've seen the smiles and pleasantries quickly turn lethal when #1 doesn't get exactly what they want.

  27. Google's profits are not based on having the best search engine. Their business model is based on massive surveillance, an area they and other like Facebook thrive in because of the lack of safeguards and regulations globally to protect privacy. They gather and collect personally identifiable information using any means necessary (Google, Android, etc.), analyze the collected data using cutting-edge data science, and sell the packages of predictive results to interested businesses. Sundar Pichai didn't rise to the top without knowing how to exploit and leverage this business model for maximum profit.

  28. @PN Perhaps there's some truth to your words. But, I'm puzzled...what is the other search engine that is even a quarter as good as Google? Or since you actually didn't imply that exactly, is there another search engine that's any good at all which is less intrusive or immoral than Google? I'm not saying Google is any kind of great corporate citizen, but they're worlds better than Facebook, or Uber for that matter. LOL

  29. @Hammerin Hank There is a search engine that is as good as Google and is much less intrusive -- DuckDuckGo. Tryit and see.

  30. @PN Perhaps there's some truth to your words. But, I'm puzzled...what is the other search engine that is even a quarter as good as Google? Or since you actually didn't imply that exactly, is there another search engine that's any good at all which is less intrusive or immoral than Googlesaying Google is any kind of great corporate citizen, they're worlds better than Facebook, or Uber for that matter. LOL

  31. One thing Sergei and Larry were known for was Google's early motto: "Don't be evil". I loved it, because we took it to mean they would act in the interests of the users, in contrast to other companies like Microsoft or IBM who had a reputation to "be evil" to their users if it meant more profit. Pretty much, Google lived up to it. Haven't heard that a lot lately from Google. Time for you to say the words, Sundar: "Our motto is: Don't be evil".

  32. AI means sweeping up the tweets of Trump and other debris, projecting sick values into the future. If this is going to remain our future, then God save the Queen. Google might be halted in its inevitable growth, promoting its AI, by history in some way?

  33. I steer clear of all things Alphabet-related. Yes, I do searches online, just like anyone else, only not with google.

  34. Google is useful, there's no doubt about it, but it's also clunky, complicated and not user friendly. They missed out big time on the social media revolution, failed twice with that and trying to get a foothold with Google + etc. They don't even have a 'proper' group functionality, although one does exist, it's UI is just awful, like something put together by 1st year tech students. It also is full of bugs. I tried to get it to work and then suddenly my profile photo disappeared. See the final email I rec'd from support after 5 months of communication with them. "Hello Michael, I hope you are well. The latest response I received from our product engineers regarding the profile picture issue you encountered stated that, as this is purely a cosmetic issue, there is no ETA on when it will be addressed. There may be more information on this in a few months however I can only speculate on this. If you find that your issue is resolved in the next few months you will know that this was addressed however should issue persist after a few months you would be able to contact us again and reference this case number 17907578 for an update on the issue. Please do not hesitate to contact the Google Cloud Support team in the future should you need to do so. Sincerely, Adam Google Cloud Support ------------------------- Case: #17907578 Subject: google groups"