Google's new CEO: Who is Sundar Pichai?

What the heck is Alphabet?
What the heck is Alphabet?

Sundar Pichai has had quite a meteoric rise at Google. He's now the company's CEO.

As Google's third CEO, Pichai is taking over a company in flux. In a massive corporate restructuring, Google has become a subsidiary of Alphabet, a new company run by Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Pichai, 43, was born in Tamil Nadu, India. After completing his undergraduate degree in metallurgical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, he came to the United States to study at Stanford University -- the alma mater of the Google founders and so many other early Googlers.

Pichai got his start at Google in 2004, building the now defunct Google toolbar. The toolbar allowed Internet Explorer and Firefox customers to make Google their default search engine.

In the next few years, he took over Chrome, Google's Web browser. When he introduced Chrome to the world in 2008, the world reacted with puzzlement: How could it compete with Internet Explorer and Firefox?

Yet Chrome eventually became the world's most used Web browser. Chrome even became a successful operating system for Chromebook laptops, used mostly by schools.

sundar pichai

Pichai eventually became vice president, then senior vice president in 2013 when he added Android to his growing portfolio.

Last year, he became Google's product chief, overseeing virtually all Google software products not named YouTube. He runs Google+, Google Wallet, Android Pay and Google's Apps services for businesses.

Pichai also runs the Google I/O developers conference, where he serves as the public face of Google for eager customers waiting to know what the next versions of Android and Chrome will do. He also shows off the company's biggest new products and services, including kicking off this year's massive Google Photos announcement.

Subdued and generally quiet, Pichai is admired at Google not just for his obvious engineering talents but also his general likability.

"Sundar has been saying the things I would have said (and sometimes better!) for quite some time now, and I've been tremendously enjoying our work together," said Page in a blog post announcing the move.

As CEO of Google, he gets one more feather in his cap and adds a few more products to his now giant kingdom -- search, ads, maps, apps, Android, Chrome and YouTube will now all be under his purview.

google alphabet graphic

Within hours of his promotion announcement, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent out a kind tweet to Pichai.

"Congratulations @sundarpichai. My best wishes for the new role at @google," he wrote on Twitter.

Others who knew him from his early days in India were excited about the high-profile promotion, noting that he had been a very shy, polite student.

"It is a unique achievement that he has managed to excel at such a young age on foreign soil," said his former professor, Sanat Roy, who has since retired from teaching at the Indian Institute of Technology. "Pichai got the opportunity and showed his potential."

Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 90 seconds
Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 90 seconds

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--CNN intern Ritika Katyal in New Delhi contributed to this report.

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