Google CEO Joins Alphabet Board in Show of Trust From Founders

  • Promotion shows rising prestige of Indian-born exec at company
  • Pichai will be the fifth current executive to sit on the board

Sundar Pichai.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Google’s Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai is getting another role: Alphabet board member. The appointment is another signal of his rising importance at the company -- and the trust the founders place in him.

Alphabet Inc., the parent company of the web search giant, added Pichai to its board of directors on Monday. He joins the company’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin; its chairman, Eric Schmidt; and nine other veterans of technology, finance and automotive industries. Outside of Google, Alphabet hosts several early-stage companies in a variety of sectors, including its self-driving car unit, Waymo, and two healthcare efforts.

“Sundar has been doing a great job as Google’s CEO, driving strong growth, partnerships, and tremendous product innovation," Page said in a statement. "I really enjoy working with him and I’m excited that he is joining the Alphabet board."

The move also resolves a potentially awkward situation: As CEO, Pichai was responsible for the Google Cloud business run by Diane Greene, but Greene also had oversight of Pichai as an Alphabet board member.

The Indian-born executive took the reins of Google in August 2015, when Page announced the Alphabet restructuring. Pichai, who joined Google in 2004, gained attention internally leading the Chrome business. Page placed him in charge of the Android mobile operating system, a key strategic asset, in 2013. Pichai soon took over more product divisions as Page stepped further away from day-to-day management of Google.

Since Pichai, 44, became CEO, he has shuttled resources toward artificial intelligence research and cloud-computing while maintaining steady growth of Google’s main advertising business. During his tenure, Google’s stock has risen about 50 percent. Alphabet gave him $199.7 million in compensation in 2016.

TIAA CEO Roger Ferguson Jr. was the most recent Alphabet board appointment, in 2016. Ann Mather, a former Pixar executive, chairs the audit committee. There are now five current Alphabet executives on the board. The company reports its second quarter earnings after the markets close on Monday.

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