Who would replace Android chief Sundar Pichai if he leaves for Microsoft’s CEO position?


In case you haven’t heard, Microsoft is undergoing a pretty exhaustive CEO search after former CEO Steve Ballmer stepped down. It’s been a fierce process thus far, with Microsoft VP of cloud and enterprise Satya Nadella said to be in the running for taking the spot.

But recent rumors suggest he might have a bit of competition. New reports out of Silicon Angle suggest Sundar Pichai has risen as Microsoft’s top external candidate, and that Microsoft has reached out to begin talks about possibly bringing him on to lead the Washington-based company. Pichai is Google’s long-time head of Chrome development, and recently took the reigns of the Android team after the godfather of Android Andy Rubin decided to step down and work on other things within Google.

sundar pichai atd

It’s not surprising to learn that Microsoft is strongly considering the services of Pichai. The company is in full attack mode on a devices strategy that they hope will keep Microsoft near the top of the tech world for years to come.

While Microsoft has already adapted to industry changes as smoothly as you could ask of them, someone like Sundar Pichai could be the X-factor they need to take things to the next level up against Google and Apple. Pichai’s expertise in mobile and web make him a very dynamic candidate that could position Microsoft to step their game up in all phases of the technology world.

And that’s where we are. If Sundar Pichai really is a candidate for Microsoft’s CEO position, there’s a very real chance he could leave. That move would have major implications for Google as the company would then need to find someone to head up both the Chrome and Android teams (as well as various other responsibilities Pichai commanded). So who could that be?

One might say Matias Duarte — ex Palm designer and Android’s director of user experience and design — might be the next best guy for that gig. Matias Duarte has been instrumental in transforming Android into the beauty that it is today.



Everything about the Android user experience post-Gingerbread is thanks to Duarte’s services. His work on the Palm Pre and webOS don’t go unnoticed either, with many folks still considering that platform one of the best there ever was in terms of design and user experience. Standing in Duarte’s way, though, is his slant toward design and user experience rather than engineering.

Being able to oversee both Chrome and Android would probably require a slight degree of software engineering background, though there’s no reason to suggest Duarte couldn’t appoint someone to a directorial position similar to the one he currently holds. There’s a real chance Google could also go back to splitting responsibilities of chieftain up and find someone more capable of handling the Chrome business while Duarte focuses on mobile.

Aside from that, it would be up in the air. We’ll have to wait and see what happens before looking too far into the future, as there’s just as much of a chance that Pichai could stay with Google for the long run. Microsoft is expected to make their decision and announcement shortly, as the company won’t want to drag their feet in a time where their devices business (including Xbox and Windows Phone / tablets) has real room for significant growth.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Actually, I would.

  2. Yes!

  3. You know what would funny, if Pichai does leave to Microsoft but then declares that Microsoft/Nokia will ditch Windows Phone and go with Android….kinda like how Elop went to Nokia and made them drop Symbian for Windows Phone.

    1. That would be epic :D

    2. Not a chance they would adopt any Google services or OS’s, even with Pichai as head. However, I would expect to see a much more progressive and open Microsoft and I could see them fall in line with a lot of the web standards Google is pushing. I’d also imagine a cooling off of the patent war for Microsoft and a move to cheaper or free license costs for both companies and users with a greater emphasis on services. In essence, I think you’d see a lot more Google-esque Microsoft, which would be awesome. That being said, I think Pichai would be a HUGE loss for Google.

  4. Andy Rubin makes better interfaces than Sunder Pichai, but Pichai makes better interfaces than Steven Sinofsky, so I’m all for it.

  5. Aw man, I really like that guy. Plus I know he’d be great at MS so that would bother me even more.

  6. Re/code said sources at both Google and Microsoft refuted the rumor, so I think it’s unlikely that he’s their pick. However, I think he would be a great fit for Microsoft even though I’d hate to see him leave.

  7. I’m just guessing, but I would not think Microsoft would pick someone who isn’t similar to who they are now… Windows has taken a hit; the person who eventually runs Microsoft will have to be in panic mode right from the start….

  8. Rumor denied. Microsoft has a new CEO, but it’s not Sundar.

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