Sandal Pichai joined Google in 2004 and became Google’s new CEO in October 2015 and alphabet CEO in 2019. From Indian immigration to Google boss, Pichai never stopped. However, in the special period of the global outbreak, how has Google been affected and how will it be positioned in the future? Let’s take a look at what Pichai really thinks.
Sandal Pichai’s job was not easy before the new coronavirus outbreak. The 47-year-old CEO is facing antitrust charges, staff changes and other issues. While home-based work has challenged the global search engine and advertising giant, it is emerging from the crisis as users turn more to Google services. It even took the opportunity to develop contact tracking technology with its main rival, Apple.
But Pichai’s goal is not immediate, and he knows that the world will change dramatically after the outbreak, and that the challenges ahead of the outbreak will continue to be with him. He recently spoke to Wired reporters at his home in California through a Google conference on issues related to the company’s response to the outbreak, antitrust and diversification. He claims that Google is still the Google and talks about his journey from a small apartment in India to a trillion-dollar company. Here’s some of Pichai’s interview.
Pictured: Google CEO Sandal Pichai.
How Google responds to the outbreak
Google can say that a good detector can detect what is happening in the world in time. But Mr Pichai said he did not anticipate how quickly the new corona outbreak would develop in early February and eventually affect everyone in the world. But through e-mails from offices in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Beijing, he can see that people are adjusting to the new corona outbreak.
“When we realized that the outbreak was worse than any of us thought, we came up with two ideas,” Pichai said. The first is how to ensure the safety of employees. As a result, we changed the company’s office model as early as possible. Second, in some ways, Google and Alphabet were created for this moment. We should provide information to people and help them when they need help. We also recognize the need to strengthen our products and services, as well as to help the country and society. “
In March 2020, Pichai sent a memo to company employees. The memo details the company’s response to the outbreak. Among the initiatives were the establishment of a 24-hour incident response team in sync with WHO, testing the company’s ability to increase remote work, the start of some employees from home, and $25 million in advertising credit donations to WHO and other government agencies. In addition, Alphabet’s healthcare subsidiary is developing a small temperature patch that can be worn that can transfer data to mobile phone applications.
Working with apple, its biggest rival, in the face of the crisis
“Initially, Both Google and Apple developed their own new coronary pneumonia contact tracking technology, ” Mr Pichai said. But soon, both sides realized that for the technology to work, it would have to be made available anywhere. As a result, the entire Android and iOS team began to communicate in an organized way. At some point, Tim and I decided to exchange information and talk directly. “
The app, created by Google and Apple, involves users’ privacy issues, so some say it won’t work and the decision on whether to participate is up to users. “Self-choice is an important principle for us,” Pichai said. We are also aware that we have to give our users a real guarantee of privacy. And I think we’ve found a balance. Even if only 10 to 20 percent of users choose to join, this can have a real, meaningful impact. Of course, the more participants there are, the better. “
So, will the two giants continue to work together in the future or is it just a one-off cooperation in a special period? “In fact, we work with Apple in many areas, ” says Mr Pichai. It is only when big companies work together to serve the community that they can bring great benefits to the world. I’ve been looking for other opportunities, and at this point Tim and I feel the same way. “
Impact and change of the outbreak
‘Once the crisis is over, the world will be different, ‘ Mr. Pichai said on a financial satphone. He believes that the longer the outbreak lasts, the longer the impact will last, and that lasting change will occur in all areas where the outbreak is occurring. At Stanford Hospital, for example, remote health services are growing. If a hospital system used to provide telehealth services to 2 to 3 percent of people, that number would now be 70 percent, and it wouldn’t go back to 2 to 3 percent. But for humans, they still want to go to concerts, or they want to go back to the stadium to watch the games, which is human nature, but it’s all going to change forever.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has just said he plans to have half of its employees working from home by 2020. Will Google do this? “I don’t think we’re going to get back to where we were before the outbreak,” Pichai said. So I hope we can adapt, but it’s too early to get to the point where it’s not going to happen. I’m glad some of the initial work went well, but it was all based on our mutual understanding and our previous regular interactions. I’m curious about what happens when this work pattern lasts three to six months. What are the efficiencies when different teams that don’t often work together have to come together to brainstorm and create? And we conduct research and research through data. “
The outbreak has hit Google’s advertising business, particularly in industries such as tourism. In response, Mr Pichai said google was not immune to the impact of the global economy. We help our global partners when their businesses are affected. Of course, we have seen opportunities in some areas as we overcome these challenges. We’ve adjusted our hiring plans, but we’re still hiring. That doesn’t mean we don’t seek efficiency. We are looking for areas that are in the right direction, more efficient, and can be normalized.
Antitrust charges against Google
It follows reports that U.S. state and federal officials will file an antitrust lawsuit against Google this year. But Mr Pichai says such scrutiny is not uncommon for them. “Society needs to censor big companies,” he declared. We just need to explain how we do our work by helping our customers. “
“We’ve been making mergers and acquisitions for nearly 10 years, and there are certainly some acquisitions that may not make sense to us, ” Mr Pichai said. But the important thing is that in many, many areas, we are all smaller and emerging players. As a result, there are still many opportunities for mergers and acquisitions in different areas. “
The creation and business changes of Alphabet Inc.
“Back in 2015, I worked closely with Larry and Sergey (Google co-founders) and established Alphabet,” Pichai said. Our long-term thinking is the same. The idea was that we had invested a lot of money in deep technology, but not everything was suitable for the Internet space. In the application of technology, some problems are very, very different, the alphabet was established to solve this problem. We all realize that this will be a long-term bet. If you don’t experience failure, it means you’re not ambitious enough. “
“I think this structure is very, very useful, ” says Mr Pichai. Google’s management team, which already has many responsibilities, does not have to worry about other issues. We’ve come a long way in some areas and we’re starting to become independent companies. We recently brought in outside investors in Waymo, so it’s more like a well-functioning company. “
“The Waymo project has been going on for 10 years,” Pichai said. If you understand its underlying technology, you’ll find that alphabet has a lot of synergies with it in terms of artificial intelligence. Part of the reason we get outside investors is to provide Waymo with the expertise it needs to manage the structure and day-to-day management. So it’s the product of a combination of the two. We don’t have any plans to divide Waymo at this time. But whether it is possible in the future, these will be our thinking. “
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who left the job.
“During the company’s transition period, Larry and Sergey told me that when I needed them, they would always be there,” Pichai said. So we’ve been communicating, but it’s not formal. I like to talk to them, they are long-term outstanding thinkers. “
“They’re not traditional thinkers, ” says Mr Pichai. They don’t get involved in everyday business, but sometimes talking to them always makes me feel refreshed because we talk with different time spans. I had a conversation with Larry a few days ago. Larry and Sergey have claimed that if the company is doing well, they want to spend their time on something else. But they remain active shareholders and board members. “
Can Google products be 10 times better or 100 times better than their competitors?
“Since we did Gmail, we’ve built and expanded a lot of new products to reach a billion users,” Says Pichai. Google Assistant is an example. You can ask any question sits anytime, anywhere, and people take it for granted, and now it’s a part of our lives. For us, some innovations take place in the context of a particular product. For example, in the Pixel family, we can make real-time captions for all content and filter each call. We’re also doing basic work, and just last year we showed the leadership of quantum technology. “
Is Google still that Google?
“Google is still that Google, and there are many, many things that haven’t changed, ” says Mr Pichai. It’s still looking for a sense of optimism and curiosity, which reminds me of my first trip to Google. “Clearly, the company is now on a completely different scale, and while some of these individual teams have changed, at the corporate level the core and soul of the company has not changed.” “
Changing TGIF Conferences, Diversity Pursuit Backwards?
In November 2019, Google decided to cancel its weekly all-staff meeting , “TGIF” and focus on the company’s business and strategy on a monthly basis, instead of discussing employees’ claims. “We always hold TGIF conferences over and over again,” Mr Pichai said. In fact, we only had one meeting two weeks ago. Our attendance rate is the highest ever. The only change we’ve made is to hold more stable monthly meetings and answer questions on a company-by-company basis, because that’s the measure it works well on. These are all natural evolutions in our company’s growth process. “
Recently, NBC News reported that Google’s quest for diversity in some areas was regressing, a comment that Mr. Pichai denied. “Google has been publishing diversity reports on a regular basis, and we were one of the first companies to publish them, ” Mr Pichai said. We’ve been asking ourselves the question: What’s going to drive the company more strongly and what more important things do we need to do? In these areas, we always look far ahead, so we don’t have specific goals. Our numbers are well below the target level, so we have a lot of room for improvement. “
Google’s TGIF Conference
According to the plan, Google executives have been a priority for the past few years because of its important strategy of returning to China. But in July 2019, Google officials confirmed that they had completed the project. Callan Bhatia, Google’s vice president of public policy, says the company has abandoned the project. Mr Pichai’s answer is that we have no plans to provide a search service in China.
How to handle error messages on the platform
“Google has brought in a lot of outside experts, ” says Mr Pichai. Last year, for example, when we increased our harassment information management policy, we consulted a number of outside groups extensively. We are dealing with misinformation in the medical field in the same way. We have extensive contactwith with outside experts, external clinics and public health agencies. But I’ll also be involved in some of the necessary discussions. “
On May 6th Facebook announced a list of members of its first content oversight committee that could oversee CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The committee includes former prime ministers, Nobel Peace Prize laureates, constitutional experts and activists. The external committee, also known as Facebook’s “Supreme Court,” could overturn Zuckerberg’s decision on whether content should be allowed on Facebook and Instagram. “I’m always looking at all the different processes that other companies are doing, ” says Mr Pichai. If there is value of learning, we will learn from the experience. “
Life journey: From Indian immigrant to Google boss
“I used to be fascinated by technology, but I rarely touched it, ” says Mr Pichai. I remember our first hand-shaking phone and TV. When I came to the United States, I came into contact with a wider range of computer technology, which changed my life. A lot of my experience is to make sure that technology can be used on a large scale. I never thought I’d get to this point, but I’m grateful that It’s a privilege to be able to touch the lives of billions of people in such a way as to work. “
Author’s profile: Steven Levy, a columnist for Wired, Rolling Stone and Apple World magazine, has more than 30 years of experience writing in the field of technology.