Microsoft reportedly courting Sundar Pichai as next CEO

January 31, 2014
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Sundar Pichai

A new report claims that Google’s head of Android Sundar Pichai is a favorite candidate for the position of Microsoft CEO.

The report comes from Silicon Angle, which claims that negotiations with the Google executive are “in full swing.” Editor-in-Chief of the publication John Furrier said on Twitter that talks with Pichai “are so under wraps,” which, if true, could explain why we haven’t heard Pichai’s name in connection with Microsoft before now.

The most recent reports from publications including Bloomberg, Re/code, and The New York Times say that Microsoft executive Satya Nadella is the current front-runner for the Microsoft CEO position. Others in the running have included Ford CEO Alan Mulally, former CEO of Nokia (and former/future Microsoft employee) Stephen Elop, and Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg. Mulally and Vestberg recently their respective boards they have no intention of leaving their positions, and it appears Elop is no longer a lead candidate.

Microsoft could really move the ball down the field with Sundar Pichai

“Microsoft could really move the ball down the field with Sundar Pichai in creating a new open operating system model for cloud, mobile, and social,” chief analyst at Wikibon Dave Vellante said in a statement to Silicon Angle. “The market has been looking for a CEO who can balance the role of leading the enterprise transformation while keeping that consumer momentum with xBox [sic] and reboot mobile. Pichai is the total package of technology leadership and business acumen.”

This isn’t the first time Pichai has been rumored to leave Google. He was once reportedly courted by Twitter, but stayed on with Google after the company paid him $50 million to stay.

Pichai joined Google in April 2004, and has headed up many divisions in the company from Chrome and Chrome OS to Gmail and Maps. He’s also credited as a driving force behind Google Drive.

Most notable, though, is that Pichai is currently the senior vice president of Android, Chrome, and Apps. It’s hard to imagine that, given the recent moves by Google to strengthen Android, Pichai would step away to head up another company. The new agreement with Samsung could mean Google, and therefore Pichai, will have a greater influence over the future of the mobile platform. It’s hard to imagine anyone stepping away with such an exciting opportunity before them.

when’s the last time you were excited by Windows Phone?

Pichai would be leaving Google and all of its Googliness behind for a completely different corporate culture in Microsoft. Even from just the product side he’d move from heading up two ostensibly open-source projects in Android and Chrome to the locked-down Windows, Windows Phone, and Xbox.

Perhaps a person like Pichai is what Microsoft needs to inject new life into the company. With the exception of the Xbox, few recent Microsoft products really resonate with users. When’s the last time you heard anyone get excited over using Word or Excel? And with the exception of Nokia’s excellent hardware, when’s the last time you were excited by Windows Phone?

With everything he’s learned at Google, Pichai has the potential to make Microsoft exciting again. But Android and Chrome are already interesting, with some exciting possibilities in the future.

Not to mention the fact that Google has plenty of money to offer Pichai to stay if it comes down to that again. Microsoft has deep pockets, too, so it’s hard to say what the outcome will be if the two companies start a bidding war for the executive.

With all the reports floating around, we’ll probably find out who the next Microsoft CEO is within the next few weeks. There’s only one thing we know for sure about the position: whoever takes over has a huge battle ahead of them in mobile with Android and iOS dominating the market.

Do you think it makes sense for Pichai to move take over as Microsoft CEO?

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