Sundar Pichai, the India-born CEO of Google, was interviewed by The New York Times on how he is steering the tech giant through the most turbulent period in its history. Pichai, who helped develop Google’s browser, Chrome, dwells on employees who protested sexual harassment at the company and on Silicon Valley’s troubles in the interview, but it also provides a fascinating account of his childhood and how it was like growing up in India. Below are the highlights on those aspects of his life:
Pichai, who attended prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, then Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, where he received advanced degrees, was a voracious reader as a boy. “I had a lot of time to read. I was processing a lot,” he said. He told NYT that he read whatever he could get his hands on. He read Dickens.
“Simple” Childhood In Chennai
Pichai, who joined Google in 2004 after stints at Applied Materials and McKinsey, said there was a simplicity to his life, “which was very nice compared with today’s world”. He told NYT that he lived in a “kind of modest house, shared with tenants”. He and family would sleep on the living room floor, according to him. And because there was a drought when he was growing up, even now, he said he can never sleep without a bottle of water beside his bed. He told NYT that other houses had refrigerators, and then his family finally got one, it was a big deal.
Studying In IIT
Pichai said he rarely had access to the computer— maybe three or four times — during his stint at IIT. “To come and just have these labs in which you had access to computers and you could program, it was a big deal to me,” he told NYT in the interview. He said he was so wrapped up in that, that to some extent he didn’t understand there was a much bigger shift happening with the internet.
Screen Time With Family
Pichai said he wants to let go of his devices for the weekend, but hasn’t succeeded yet. The TV at home is not easily accessible, according to him. He told his son is 11 years old, and he is mining Ethereum and earning money. Though his son getting insight into how the tech world works, how commerce works, he still doesn’t have a phone, Pichai told NYT.