Google CEO Sundar Pichai will take over the additional reins of parent Alphabet in place of co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin as the sole occupant of the hot seat amid an unprecedented global demand for more safeguards, regulatory scrutiny and taxes. When Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin created the Alphabet holding company in 2015, Pichai was chosen to run Google, whose businesses including YouTube, Maps and Gmail bring in almost all of the company’s revenue. That left the founders to chase visions of building self-driving cars and technology to make people live longer. Brin and Page stepped away from their posts as president and CEO of Alphabet on Tuesday, handing total executive control to Pichai although they’ll stay on the board.
In Silicon Valley and on Wall Street, Pichai enjoys a positive reputation as the guy keeping the cash flowing at Google. But, partly because Brin and Page were still technically in the picture, Pichai is less well-known outside of tech circles. When the U.S. Senate held a hearing last year to ask what the big tech companies were doing to stop election meddling on their platforms, it invited Page first, not Pichai. Neither went and Google was represented by an empty chair, although Pichai made the trek later to a House Judiciary Committee meeting.
The co-founders still control the company through preferred shares. As of April, Page held 26.1% of Alphabet’s total voting power, Brin 25.25% and Pichai less than 1%. Though he has been steering one of the world’s most successful information technology companies, in an interview to The Guardian in 2017, Pichai said: “As humans, I don’t know whether we want change that fast—I don’t think we do.” This, in fact, could prove to be a dilemma as Pichai leads Alphabet, with its experimental projects of the future.