Who doesn’t know Sundar Pichai? The man who was handed Google and crowned the CEO. Well everyone of us know him. Even after running one of the most biggest business in the world, he doesn’t looked change. However, rapid change and constant innovation are the mantras of the technology giant that he heads. It looks like he has resolution for the year to grow more.
“Last year was a big one for us. We focused sharply on machine learning and artificial intelligence and how we can use it to make our services better. We think of this as an important inflection point. We brought out products like Google Assistant and Google Home. Pixel (Google’s smartphone) also has the assistant built in. I view that as a foundation for how we will think about things for the next many years,“ Pichai said.
When asked that Google has near-total dominance in search, its social media initiatives, including Wave, Buzz and Google+, haven’t done too well. What has Google learnt from these experiments? “We want to always work on ambitious things and by definition, we won’t succeed in everything. If we do, we are not being ambitious enough,“ he said.
“If we meet 70% of our objectives, we consider that a success,“ added Pichai. “To me, what’s more important is, are we continuing to innovate? Are we at the forefront of applying computer science to solve problems for our users, consistent with our mission? I think we do that, and we have to do that in the future too.“ Google CEO Sundar Pichai expects his company’s real time automatic translation feature to be widely available in less than five years. This will break down language barriers in communication all over the world and will be especially useful in a multi-lingual country like India.
He was also asked about the government’s big digital push through demonetisation? “Big platform shifts tend to have enormous effects. Just because people have phones and phones have location built into them…they can have things like ride-sharing and the whole transportation industry changes. That’s because of a platform shift. So I won’t underestimate it,“ he said. “These things can have tremendous multiplicative effects for a place like India. This country has a chance to leapfrog some things other countries have struggled with.We’re doing it with cellphones instead of landlines. Similarly , in digital payments, the UPI stack in India is phenomenal. Something like that doesn’t exist in most countries. I do think we have a unique opportunity. There is a lot more infrastructure here than people realise. The foundations have been set for digitising India on the payment side as well. I am not an expert on this. But I think it is a courageous move and from Google’s perspective, if there is anything we can do to help, we would be glad to do so.“
Given his hectic work schedule, does he set specific targets for how he allocates time? “I definitely want to spend as much of my time as possible on people building things. So, I strive to increase the time I spend working with engineers, product managers, and designers to build things. I wish I could spend 90% of my time on that. I obviously don’t, but I always strive to be closer to that,“ said the CEO of arguably the world’s most influential company , who clearly remains an engineer at heart.