Sundar Pichai is riding high as the new chief executive officer at Alphabet, parent company to Google .
Pichai took over as CEO last December, as company co-founders and co-CEOs Larry Page and Sergey Brin stepped back from the day-to-day oversight of both Alphabet (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Report and Google. In the move, the company installing Pichai as chief decision-maker at Alphabet (he had already served as CEO of Google since a company restructuring in 2015.)
Aside from the prestige (and pressure) of riding herd on a company valued at $900 billion, ranking it No. 15 on the most recent list of Fortune 500 companies, Pichai is cashing in big-time, as well.
Pichai’s current wealth estimate is difficult to pin down, but as of June, 2019, his net worth was said to be $933 million. At the time, Pichai reportedly owned 4,800 units of Alphabet stock valued at $108.5 million. He’s also reportedly sold $822.47 million worth of company stock in the preceding four years.
As CEO of both Alphabet and Google, Pichai earns a salary of $1.89 million annually, but earns a great deal more in bonuses and stock options. Put another way, he earns approximately $226,000 dollars an hour, according to data from Fox News.
That’s not saying Pichai hasn’t earned a big payday. As the architect of some of Google’s greatest achievements, like Gmail, Google Maps, Pixel, and Android, Pichai has certainly done his part to grow the Google brand and rake in billions of dollars in profits.
In yet another way to measure Pichai’s wealth, consider that Page and Brin have an estimated net worth of $56.4 billion and $55.6 billion, respectively.
Pichai’s Early Life
How did Pichai climb the corporate ladder and become the CEO of one of the world’s largest and most prominent global brands?
Sundar Pichai (real name is Pichai Sundararajan), was born in Chennai, India in July, 1972. His parents, Lakshmi and Regunatha, both worked full time, his mother making a living as a stenographer and his dad working as an electrical engineer at U.K.-based GEC.
After attending school in his hometown of Ashok Nagar, Chennai, Pichai attended the Indian Institute of Technology Madras and eventually earned a degree from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, with a degree in metallurgical engineering.
After moving to the U.S., Pichai earned a master of sciences degree from Stanford University in material sciences and engineering, and then received an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, with high honors.
On to Google
He launched his business career as a product manager at Applied Materials and moved on to a business consulting position at McKinsey & Company.
Pichai arrived at Google in 2004, where he took a leading role working on Google Chrome, the company’s flagship web browser platform. He also worked closely with the company’s software engineering team on Chrome OS, the firm’s operating system.
Pichai picked up the pace at Google, traveling abroad to ride herd on new company applications like Gmail and Google Maps.
By 2013, Pichai was leading Google’s Android team, and was increasingly earning the attention of Brin and Page. Within two years, the company founders had seen enough – on Aug. 10, 2015, Pichai was tapped as Google’s new CEO, a position he earned from his own pluck and hard work, but also by surrounding himself with good talent – but with an edge.
“It’s always good to work with people who make you feel insecure about yourself,” he once said. “That way, you will constantly keep pushing your limits.”
Pichai earned approximately $100 million at Google in 2015 and almost doubled that figure in 2016, thanks to an increasing amount of lucrative stock options awarded as he climbed the company’s executive ladder.
To the Head of the Class
Even as he was climbing the corporate ladder with Google, another Pacific Coast software titan had its eye on Pichai, as well. Prior to being named CEO at Google, Pichai was rumored to be at the front of the line as CEO at Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report (the position eventually went to current CEO Satya Nadella.)
Happy and productive at Google, Pichai stayed on to become CEO of both Alphabet and Google in 2019, but not before controversy arose.
In 2017, Pichai found himself in the cultural crosshairs after terminating a Google staffer who had written a controversial memo bashing the company’s diversity policy, and urging company leadership to award jobs, bonuses and promotions based on performance alone, and not include diversity, per se, into the equation.
Pichai openly criticized the letter and fired the employee, opening himself up to his own bout of criticism for squashing diversity of thought inside the company’s culture.
Externally, Pichai has also fought off talk of cultural bias in Google’s search engine models, with conservative advocates accusing Google of tipping the scales in favor of left-wing causes in its search algorithms.
In testimony to Congress in December 2018, Pichai strongly denounced the charges, noting that it would be “impossible” for any Google staffer or rogue employees working together to manipulate its search model, as the process is “so complex and has so many steps. "
Wealthy and Getting Wealthier
As part of his 2019 deal to become CEO of both Alphabet and Google, Pichai agreed to a deal awarding him, among other perks of the office, an additional $240 million in stock options through 2021 and a hike in base salary to $2 million.
Interestingly, Pichai may earn an additional $90 million, if Alphabet’s share price cooperates. The deal hinges on stock market performance gains tied to the S&P 100 index, thus making it the first time Brin, Page and the company’s board have linked stock options to stock market performance.
According to reports, Pichai could make an additional $90 million pending Alphabet’s share performance in relation to the S&P100 Index. This is the first time the company has granted performance-based stock grants to its CEO.
Those figures will surely boost the net worth of Sundar Pichai, the newest golden boy in Silicon Valley – and now one of the wealthiest, too.