The tech industry was flipped on its head late Monday, as Google founder Larry Page announced the Internet powerhouse would merge with Alphabet, a new parent company for Google and all of its future properties.
In his announcement, Page declared that Sundar Pichai would take over as Google’s chief executive. Pichai has been a rising star within Google since “he took on product and engineering responsibility for our Internet businesses” in October, Page wrote.
“I feel very fortunate to have someone as talented as he is to run the slightly slimmed down Google and this frees up time for me to continue to scale our aspirations,” Page wrote in his announcement.
Though Pichai will be thrown into the media spotlight as the head of Google, the 43-year-old came from humble beginnings in Chennai, India, according to BBC News. His family lived in a two-room apartment, where Pichai would often sleep on the living room floor near his younger brother.
It was in this humble home that Pichai first got the idea to work in technology. His father, Regunatha Pichai, worked for Britain’s General Electric in India, and would often talk to the boy about tech, BBC reported.
"I used to come home and talk to him a lot about my work day and the challenges I faced," Regunatha Pichai told BBC.
Pichai worked hard in school to find work in technology. He was the captain of his school’s cricket team and was described by a teacher as the “brightest of his batch,” BBC reported.
Pichai’s school classmates said he was a “quiet worker, studious and a bookish type,” according to Hindustan Times.
“He used to have a smile on his face and (was) kind of a bookworm,” Pattu Subramanian, who was two years ahead of Pichai in school, told the Hindustan Times. “Once I had the occasion to meet him in Pennsylvania. But I had never thought this shy boy would one day become so big.”
Despite his goals, Pichai remained close with his family. Fellow classmate Murugavel Selvan said that Pichai often spent time with his parents.
“A devoted son to his parents, Pichai has done them and everyone of us proud,” Selvan told Hindustan Times.
BBC reported that Pichai was eventually offered a scholarship at Stanford, where he earned his master's degree in Material Sciences and Engineering. He also got an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, according to The Hindu.
He is highly regarded and well-liked by both Google workers and those who work in the tech industry.
“If there’s anybody that could take over as CEO one day, I would see Sundar as being a great choice for doing that,” Maarten Hooft, who worked with Pichai from 2006 to 2012, told Business Insider in 2014. “There’s a lot of smart people [at Google], but in terms of the consumer products he’s worked on so far, I doubt they would be as successful without Sundar being there.”
Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret News National. Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @herbscribner.