Who Will Be The Next CEO Of Google? The Google story begins at Stanford University, with two graduate students working out how to reimagine an academic search engine based primarily on page links. What came out of this effort was PageRank, the fledgling algorithm that powered Google Search was first launched at Stanford in 1996.
To begin with, Larry Page and Sergei Brin were idealists; the vision for their early search engine wasn’t one powered by the profit motive, but rather a commitment to excellence, one that would speak for itself and draw in customers simply on the strength of that basis.
Indeed, in a paper written in 1998, the duo recognized the temptation of using an ad-based model for their creation, but preferred to make the case for a “transparent” search engine instead.
This idealism was most notably communicated by the company’s decision to adopt the slogan “Don’t be evil” as its official corporate motto. There are conflicting foundational myths for where this idea first originated, but by the year 2000 it was being touted by Larry and Sergei as a way to reiterate the pair’s commitment to a tech-first focus for the firm faced with what was becoming an increasingly money-oriented operation.
In fact, the “Don’t be evil” sentiment was so important to the founders that they included it in the firm’s SEC filings when the company first went public.
As the company moved forward, it seemed like Larry and Sergei weren’t so convinced of what the enterprise was really worth. In 1999, they tried to sell the search engine to the internet portal company Excite for a measly $1 million. The deal was eventually refused by Excite CEO George Bell, with the final figure for the buyout negotiated to an even lower price of $750,000!
Welcome, Eric Schmidt
Not before long, the unlikely computer scientists were at the helm of what was one of the fastest growing companies in the world. But the pair, unaccustomed to the rigors of a cut-throat business environment, were in need of a helping hand.
As the company grew, it began to resemble more and more a typical large-scale enterprise, meaning additional layers of management and an entrenched corporate structure. Larry Page, young, and perhaps a little naïve, hated it. He saw the new band of project managers as interfering within his original vision of the company as an engineer-first project, and, one day, decided to sack them all.
Not surprisingly, this move spooked the executive leadership; the company was now aspiring to be a publicly listed entity, and actions such as this could no longer be written-off as just eccentric exuberance – they would, in future, be damaging for Google’s share price.
Page’s decision was eventually reversed, and in came the experienced former Novell head Eric Schmidt. By taking up the CEO reins Schmidt was able to bring some stability to operations, and, as Page once humorously remarked, bring in some “parental supervision” to the company.
Eric Schmidt would go on to take Google public in 2004, and his contribution to the company was enormous. He oversaw the firm’s move into the smartphone market, self-driving cars and cloud computing. Schmidt was such a success that he eventually became the Obama administration’s technology adviser and a business celebrity in his own right.
When Larry Page became CEO again in 2011, Eric Schmidt took on the executive chairman role of a company worth almost $400 billion.
Larry Page Leaves The Stage
2019 would be the first year when Larry Page and Sergei Brin no longer held any executive role at Google. After taking over the CEO job in 2011, Page finally determined that it was time to take a bow from running the company, and he passed the mantle of what was now Alphabet to Sundar Pichai.
This wasn’t such an enormous change for the firm. Pichai was essentially running the company from about the time in 2015 when Google restructured into Alphabet, and Page’s public profile has been extremely low for a long time now.
Sundar Pichai has had what some people call a “meteoric rise” at Google since joining as product manager in 2004, and is now rightly one of the highest-paid executives in the world. From launching the fantastically successful Chrome browser in 2008, to running Google’s entire business operation, Pichai is now in overall charge of all of Alphabet’s subsidiary companies.
But Who Will Be The Next Google CEO?
Despite Sundar Pichai still being so new to the job, there’s always speculation as to who will eventually take up his role when he does finally leave.
Many see the lessons of Tim Cook’s premiership at Apple as instructive, where an already impressive company can go stratospheric with the arrival of fresh blood to the CEO role. The converse of this is true too; a bad management decision can easily tank a valuable company.
And, while it might be too early to make concrete predictions, taking the template of Apple’s Cook as a guide would suggest someone already at Google who has extensive knowledge of the company from the inside and a proven track record of delivering innovative products to market.
But then, moulds are there to be broken. Alphabet (GOOG) does have a portfolio of very interesting companies, led by some very brilliant people, but who are working at arm’s length from the primary operation in Silicon Valley.
Perhaps with the predicted dominance of AI, it could just be someone like DeepMind’s founder Demis Hassabis who takes the top job in the years to come.
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