Sundar Pichai has been busy making waves since being appointed CEO of Google by Alphabet head honcho Larry Page. Changes to the company are already being praised and coming under fire despite Alphabet’s effective control lasting less than a month so far. Google, in particular, has had a change of rules and mantras. Now, we’re starting to see a company with insular and at times harsh culture begin to evolve into a different beast than the aggressive and viciously entrepreneurial growth machine that it’s been known as for over a decade.
Under Sergei Brin and the notoriously cold Larry Page, a good number of people whose skills couldn’t be described in less positive terms than “stellar” made it into top roles despite a general lack of people skills. Rules were enforced, staff were built up with tough love and projects were pursued with fierce determination. With the new Google, Pichai plans to make it a more human workplace, but without compromising on the skill and drive of the people involved at every level.
One good example of this is Pichai’s new pick to lead Android, Hiroshi Lockheimer. Described by his coworkers in glowing terms as a generally likable guy and easy to communicate with, the new exec joined Google in 2006 to assist with bringing Android out of its prehistoric slump and into prominence. This was after sharing an office with Motorola’s current president, Rick Osterloh, back in 2001. Osterloh claims that Lockheimer is the most appropriate leader for the department, which speaks volumes about Pichai’s ability to keep an ear on the pulse of his workforce. Michael Chan of Nextbit also praised Lockheimer’s talent and people skills, saying that his promotion is going to be good for Android. Pichai also promoted one Philipp Schindler, who will now be heading what is arguably Google’s personal gold mine, their sales department. Schindler is described as smart and personable by coworkers. The pattern that Pichai is going for is fairly easy to spot.
Pichai seems to be working hard on transforming the company, to the clamor of many appreciative voices. Of course, as is always the case in the tech world, nothing is perfect. Pichai will doubtlessly be faced with allegations of going too soft and fears that the hardcore, go-getter spirit of yesteryear’s Google may be under fire. With Moonshot projects coming out of the woodwork and Google growing at what is considered a staggering pace in the industry to this day, it seems that Pichai’s approach will mesh well with the new culture under Alphabet. Only time, of course, will tell if he is truly successful.