Sundar Pichai named Alphabet CEO as Sergey Brin and Larry Page depart

4 Dec 2019

From left: Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Image: Paul Sakuma/AP

Sergey Brin and Larry Page have handed the Alphabet baton to Sundar Pichai, but will continue to have places on the board.

The co-founders of Google are stepping down as executives of its parent company, Alphabet. The move ends a remarkable two decades during which Larry Page and Sergey Brin shaped a start-up born in a Silicon Valley garage into one of the world’s largest, most powerful — and, increasingly, most feared — firms in the world.

Sundar Pichai, who has been leading Google as CEO for more than four years, will stay in his role and also become CEO of Alphabet. Page was Alphabet’s CEO, while Brin was its president. The president’s role at Alphabet is not being filled.

Both founders promised that they plan to stay actively involved as board members and shareholders and lauded Pichai for his leadership of Google. Page and Brin, in announcing the news on Tuesday (3 December), said the company has “evolved and matured” in the two decades since its founding.

“Today, in 2019, if the company was a person, it would be a young adult of 21 and it would be time to leave the roost,” they said.

Change in the air

Alphabet — an umbrella corporation that the two created in 2015 — still boasts Google as its central fixture and key moneymaker. But it is 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 have been noticeably absent from Google events in the past year.

Both stopped making appearances at the weekly question-and-answer sessions with employees, and Page did not attend this summer’s Alphabet shareholders meeting even though he was still in the CEO role.

Alphabet has been positioning Pichai as the de facto leader for quite some time — making him the top executive voice at shareholders meetings, on earnings call and as a spokesperson at congressional hearings.

Pichai, 47, has worked at the company for 15 years, serving as a leader in projects to build the company’s Chrome browser and overseeing the Android operating system. Pichai, who has an engineering background, took over as the head of Google’s products before being promoted to CEO when Alphabet was created.

– PA Media