How India reacted to Sundar Pichai's new role at Google - and what will he do?

Updated Tuesday, 25th August 2015
Indian-born Sundar Pichai has been appointed CEO at Google. How did India react to the news? Like anything, with jokes and Wikipedia edit wars.

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As Google goes through a massive change by creating a new larger holding company Alphabet, everyone in India has their eyes set on the company's new 43 year-old CEO – Sundar Pichai.

Sundar Pichai

Hundreds and thousands of people rejoiced on social media when India-born Pichai ascended to the most powerful job at the world's biggest technology company Google.

Pichai, born as Pichai Sundararajan grew up in a two-room apartment with his parents Lakshmi and Regunatha in Madras (present day Chennai) in the Indian state of Tamilnadu.

He holds a Bachelor in Technology degree from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, a Masters from Stanford University and a MBA from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. Pichai, who was relatively unknown in most of India saw much love from his home country and state after the promotion.

His Wikipedia article saw a massive edit war — between two groups of two different schools — claiming from he graduated from their alma mater before he joined the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.

A very humble and soft-spoken Pichai thanked everyone:

For pure fun, a Twitter user even manipulated and shared Pichai's image:

Pic 1: Sundar Pichai (could also mean “good picture” in many Indian languages), Pic 2: Bad picture

A Twitter user Gabbar cracked a joke about Pichai's massive success referring to”Rajnigandha” which claims [in its advertising that] chewing its mouth freshener will bring success:

Pichai's vision

Soon after joining Google in 2004, Pichai became the force behind the annual developer conference Google's I/O, and he led product management of Google Chrome, Chrome OS and Google Drive.


In a video interview with Pichai on the Verge from June, the interviewer asks him how he feels about “Google trying to give everybody a supercomputer in their pocket”, Pichai replies:

[..] The thing that attracted me to Google and the Internet in general is that it is a great equalizer and so to me I've always been struck by the fact that Google search works the same way as long you have access to a computer with connectivity, even if you were a rural kid anywhere or if you were a professor at Stanford or Harvard [..]

When asked about the different “divisions within Google that are doing crazy stuff”, Pichai responds:

We do them, because we believe that software is increasingly playing a critical role in solving things, which it didn't before. So to me when I look at cars, people spend an inordinate amount of time in cars, these are resources which are very poorly utilized[…]They get used less than 10 percent. We see these problems and we say can we solve it at scale and does computing – software and computer science – play a role in it? While the effort may seem ambitious or crazy, we take a very disciplined approach, they are thought through like businesses but we take a very long term view, in a very disciplined away. Our research can be longer term and we do that precisely in research[..] we never know whether some of them make viable business applications but we want to push the technology.

Larry Page, Google ex-CEO and the current CEO of Alphabet announced about this big change on the Google blog, hinting that Alphabet will focus on big projects with Google continuing with its search engine and its other products:

Sergey and I have been super excited about his progress and dedication to the company. And it is clear to us and our board that it is time for Sundar to be CEO of Google. I feel very fortunate to have someone as talented as he is to run the slightly slimmed down Google and this frees up time for me to continue to scale our aspirations.

This article was originally published at Global Voices Online under a CC-BY licence


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