Sundar Pichai was announced as the new CEO of Google back on August 10 2015, just a little over two years ago, after Larry Page and Sergey Brin moved to preside over Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc. Over the past two years, Pichai has overseen the launch of the Pixel smartphone range, rapid Android growth in emerging markets, and cloud computing, to name just a few. Alas, he has also had to deal with Google’s share of controversy and scandal.
So, let’s recap the CEO’s two year tenure as head of the world’s most powerful internet company.
Leading with AI
Sundar Pichai inherited Google in excellent shape, but has made a number of distinctive transitions that has shifted the company’s direction over the past two years. Google has previously moved from search to mobile, but under Pichai there has been an increased focus on “AI first”. This was a note Pichai made a particular point of making at the most recent Google I/O. Almost all of Google’s latest announcements have revolved around AI in some way, from its second generation TPU chips for cloud computing, to improved imaging algorithms for Google Photo and camera improvements, and the steady march into the smart home.
It’s been a gradual transition though, with the introduction of Google Cloud for business all the way back in 2011, which has rapidly expanding under Pichai’s leadership.
The company’s growth in cloud computing and the increasing use of neural net computing saw the company enter the hardware games with its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) in 2016, with a followup announced this year. Google now uses its expansive neural networking capabilities for image recognition, video analytics, speech recognition, translations, YouTube and advertisement recommendations, and has even helped out in the mapping of DNA sequences to assist with medical science, among many other uses. This early focus on neural networks, AI, and software has not only paid off on the software side, but has also given the company a big boost when it comes to making its hardware offerings stand out.
Google has quickly transitioned from a mobile first to AI first company, using neural network computing across its products.
Chief among one of Google’s most ambitious plans under Pichai is the launch of its Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones last year – two high-end machines aimed squarely at taking on Apple and Samsung. Google wasn’t a complete stranger to hardware development, having partners with other OEMs for previous releases, but an expensive campaign to establish itself in the flagship tier market was an uncommonly bold move.
While the Android enthusiast crowd was reluctant to see the end of the Nexus line and the subsequent higher price point of the Pixel’s, in the end the range was universally praised and has done plenty to raise Google’s profile in the minds of consumers regarding both smartphone software and hardware. The gamble will perhaps be Google’s biggest win of the past few years, if the company can build on this success with the upcoming Pixel – Source