It was a startling letter that the Google founders yesterday addressed to employees and the rest of the world. Already in 2015 they had given Google's leadership to Sundar Pichai, but kept as chiefs of the newly founded parent company Alphabet but actually continue to control. Now they also give Pichai this role. It is the end of an era.
Page and Brin have shaped the modern Internet like no one else. Not for nothing, of course, everyone uses the googling verb to describe internet searches. With other products such as Google Maps and clever acquisitions such as Youtube and the Android smartphone operating system, the group under its leadership has helped to shape and in part reinvent important parts of modern communication. And Google has changed a lot during this time.
Of course, today's Google is not the same company that Page and Brin founded in 1998 in a garage. Nobody knows that better than the two. Their corporation had matured, 21 years after its founding he was ready to move out of his parents' nest, they write in their letter.
From the playground to the billion dollar business
And in fact, a lot has happened. Google, that was the playground of the Techszene for a long time. Shaped by ball bath and a requirement, one should work on a working day, at what one wanted, originated in the homeland mountain view numerous ideas, which otherwise would not have been otherwise anywhere else feasible. Under the motto "Do not be evil", Google's mail services, glass data goggles and crazy projects such as trying to make the internet limitless with hot air balloons were born.
Since that happened a lot. Google is one of the largest corporations in the world, thanks to its highly profitable advertising business, and has grown significantly faster under Pichai's leadership. The Ballsbad has long disappeared in new company locations, countless of the old hobby projects were discontinued. For this reason, the steadily growing Could business and Pichai's focus on artificial intelligence have opened up completely new business fields.
And with some of them – even internally – quite controversial. Not all of these businesses seem compatible with the old motto. While the group had locked itself out of the largest market in the world with its censorship refusals towards China in 2010, Pichai even thinks about its own search engine for the state behind the big firewall. At first, the US military was not spurned as a customer: with artificial intelligence, drones were improved. Both actions caused massive protests among the employees last year. Since then, the slogan "Do not be evil" had long been eradicated from all company pages. In the end, the group gave in both cases: The projects were stopped.
The backslide to their own workforce is no coincidence: Although the corporate culture has changed quite a bit, the biggest strength of Google is still its employees. Pichai, who has worked his way up the group since 2004, knows that too. Without the concentrated expertise of its people and Google's culture of competing for the best idea, many of the ideas of recent years – from self-driving cars to surveying the world in Google Earth – would never have materialized.
Also the realization of Pichai's visions would hardly have been possible without them. Under his leadership, Google has emerged as one of the largest artificial intelligence experts. In addition, it is increasingly geared towards "ambient computing", the disembodied computer. With Google's smartphones and Google Nest voice speakers, Google Assistant is becoming a ubiquitous companion to talk to, without thinking about which device is responding – and from which web page the answer comes at the end. The computer and the internet are completely in the background. Google's ambitions have long been bigger than the knowledge machine and the advertising provider.
The change came earlier
Whether the change of leadership is particularly noticeable, will have to show. The retreat actually began with Pichai's takeover in 2015. Officially, the founders took over the responsibility for Alphabet with Google and its many sister companies such as the automatic driving service Waymo. De facto, they disappeared with the step but from the public. As Google CEO, Pichai's attention was largely to himself, except in exceptional cases, the two founders of themselves, said journalist Kara Swisher on Twitter. Now they only want to be available as consultants in Google's supervisory board.
Brin and Page are also aware of how far their company has developed. "We are deeply humble to see how a small research project has evolved into a source of knowledge and empowerment for billions of people, a bet we made as two Stanford students and led to countless other opportunities," they write in her farewell letter. They never imagined the company's path. Now they should watch closely, where to go.
source: Google Blog, Twitter