Meet the 15 executives in Google Leads, CEO Sundar Pichai's trusted inner circle that's leading the company's most critical businesses

  • Larry Page had the "L Team." Sundar Pichai has Google Leads, a broad group of executives from across the company who make up his inner circle.
  • Leads is made of product group leaders and some of Pichai's most trusted advisors. They typically meet once a week, and Pichai will run major decisions by the group.
  • Business Insider has identified the 15 names that make up Pichai's executive squad.
  • Do you work at Google? You can contact this reporter securely using encrypted messaging app Signal (+1 628-228-1836) or encrypted email ([email protected]).
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Google's former CEO Larry Page had the "L Team," an inner circle of trusted advisors which he consulted on major company decisions.

Sundar Pichai's team is called Google Leads, a broader group of 15 executives from across the company's most critical businesses, from search to education.

The group consists of product leaders as well as some of Pichai's most trusted confidants, some of whom have been with Google from the very early days.

Based on conversations with sources, Business Insider has identified the 15 names that make up Google Leads.

The group typically meets once a week, but has been even more engaged than usual during the pandemic, insiders say.

Meet Sundar Pichai's inner circle.

Thomas Kurian — Google Cloud CEO

Google has reportedly set 2023 as the deadline to overtake at least one of its major cloud rivals, and the pressure is on Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian to deliver.

The former Oracle executive was named as Google's new Cloud chief in November 2018. "You will see us competing much more aggressively," he said just several weeks into his tenure. And so far, Kurian appears to be delivering on that promise as he pushes Google's enterprise business to catch Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

Kurian succeeded Diane Greene, who insiders say had more of an engineering focus, and who reportedly left after tensions with other executives.

"Kurian is a move back to a sales-oriented culture at the top," said one person who worked with both Greene and Kurian. "That will probably help break through in markets that have been historically skeptical of Google within the enterprise."

Under Kurian, Cloud is targeting more products and services specific to certain industries, and the Cloud chief said deals over $50 million more than doubled in 2019. Starting in Q4 of this year, Google will start breaking out its Cloud earnings as a separate reporting segment – more evidence of how important Google sees this division for its future growth.

Fun fact: Thomas has a twin brother named George, who is the CEO of NetApp.

Ruth Porat — SVP and CFO of Google and Alphabet

In 2015, just months before the company morphed into Alphabet, Ruth Porat left financial firm Morgan Stanley to join Google as its new chief financial officer.

The timing of Porat's arrival was not a coincidence, and since the reorganization she has continued to serve as CFO for both Google and Alphabet, making her one of the most important figures inside the internet empire.

Porat's purview extends to Alphabet's so-called Other Bets — the hodgepodge of subsidiary businesses focused on autonomous driving, biotech and drones, among other things— where she controls the purse strings, headcount and future of the various efforts. 

Insiders say Porat has introduced more fiscal discipline into the company over the years, and has reigned in some of the company's more indulgent money-bleeding projects. That includes Alphabet's self-driving car division Waymo, which had its first outside funding round this year.

Kent Walker — SVP Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer

As senior VP for Global Affairs and Google's Chief Legal Officer, Kent Walker is Google's top lawyer. 

Walker advises Google's leadership team on legal and policy issues that involve everything from company acquisitions to antitrust investigations. Bloomberg once called Walker "the most powerful person in tech you've never heard of." 

That might be about to change: Walker, along with a handful of outside lawyers, is now mounting Google's defense against a Justice Department lawsuit that accuses Google of violating antitrust laws.

Before joining Google in 2006, the Stanford Law School graduate held top legal roles at eBay and at internet browser pioneer Netscape. In a strange twist of fate, he also did a five-year stint in the US Department of Justice.

Rick Osterloh — SVP, Devices and Services

For the past few years, Rick Osterloh has been attempting to wrangle Google's various hardware efforts – phones, laptops, wearables – into one cohesive vision. No easy task.

The former president of Motorola Mobility, who Google hired back in 2016 to lead its hardware division, has perhaps most notably helped grow Google's own brand of Pixel smartphones into a household name.

In 2018, Osterloh also took charge of Nest, once an independent company bought by Google and placed in a silo under Alphabet – before being absorbed back into the Google mothership.

The pressure is on for Osterloh to prove that Google deserves to be taken seriously as a hardware player, but some notable departures from the team in recent months suggest the company is still finding its footing in this space.

Google is said to be working on its own processors for future Pixel phones and Chromebooks, which would feasibly allow Osterloh and his team to do better and more interesting things with the surrounding hardware.

Osterloh's own direct reports include Nest VP Rishi Chandra, and Clay Bavor, who oversees Google's virtual and augmented reality products.

 

Prabhakar Raghavan — Head of Search and Geo

Prabhakar Raghavan is Google's new head of Search, following an executive reshuffle earlier this year. Prabhakar previously led Google's ads and commerce team, and before that was in charge of G Suite in Google Cloud.

But search is Raghavan's bread and butter, but with antitrust regulators now targeting this part of the business, he'll have to tread carefully. 

Not only will Raghavan be grappling with Google Search, the reorganization puts Raghavan right at the top of the Google money tree, overseeing ads, Geo, commerce and payments — and the voice-based Assistant product, too.

He also has a new team of direct reports, which include Jerry Dischler, who now leads Google Ads; and new Geo leads Dane Glasgow and Elizabeth Reid.

Before Google, he founded Yahoo Labs and led the company's search strategy, not to mention that he's published various books and papers on the subject, including a book co-authored with Rajeev Motwani called Randomized Algorithms.

Oh, and if you follow him on Twitter, don't expect too much activity. His Twitter handle is an anagram for "I don't tweet."

Hiroshi Lockheimer — SVP, Platforms and Ecosystems

A founding member of the Android team, Lockheimer currently oversees Google's range of mobile products including Android, Chrome, Chrome OS, and Play.

He joined the company in 2006, after Google acquired Android, where he served as executive director and later VP of engineering. In 2015, Google's fresh CEO Sundar Pichai, who once lead Chrome and Chrome OS development himself, appointed Lockheimer as SVP of Google's mobile software efforts.

Insiders have described Lockheimer as having a "quiet strength" about him, calling him a well-respected leader in the company. Pichai's prior history working on Chrome means this is an area the Google chief is particularly close to.

Lockheimer is also leading the charge on a new OS called Fuchsia, an open-source sort-of-blend of Android and Chrome OS, which remains shrouded in much mystery.

Susan Wojcicki — YouTube CEO

Susan Wojcicki not only serves as YouTube's CEO, she's also a card-carrying member of the old-school Google club. In fact, it was Wojcicki's garage where Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin built their first office in 1998.

It was also Wojcicki who proposed Google buy YouTube in 2006, and now almost 15 years later the founders are surely glad they listened.

Wojcicki, who studied history and literature at Harvard University, has transformed YouTube into one of Google's biggest success stories.

And now that the company has started revealing YouTube's revenue, we can see just how successful it is.

The business brought in $5 billion in revenue for the last quarter alone, marking a 14% jump in year-on-year growth.

Check out our list of the 33 insiders who hold the most power at YouTube for more on the inner workings of Google's video business.

Lorraine Twohill — Chief Marketing Officer

Lorraine Twohill joined Google in 2003 as the company's first marketing hire outside of the US, and quickly rose through the ranks to lead the company's marketing division.

Twohill, who also created Google's in-house advertising agency Creative Lab, has her own wide range of reports across Google products, from Search to Chrome.

"She's humanized Google with Super Bowl Sunday ads," wrote Business Insider in its list of the most innovative CMOs of 2020.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Twohill has worked with the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to promote official health information across Google's products.

Ben Gomes — SVP, Education

Another early member of the company, Ben Gomes joined Google in 1999 where he was tasked with, among other things, scaling Google's 'PageRank' beyond 25 million pages.

Gomes has been described as Google's search czar. "I think of Ben as our diplomat," Marissa Mayer once said during her Google tenure. However, it wasn't until 2018 that Gomes was appointed head of Google's Search business.

Now, Gomes has transitioned to a new role overseeing Google's education and learning products. Gomes is working to tie together the company's various education-oriented efforts, which includes everything from school Chromebook programs to the Google Scholar service.

"Ben has always had a deep interest in education innovation, and we're excited to see him build on our work here," said CEO Sundar Pichai when announcing Gomes' new role in June.

Gomes continues to be part of Leads in his new role. He will remain a technical advisor on Search, assisting Prabhakar Raghavan, and will work closely with Google.org on corporate philanthropy.

 

Jen Fitzpatrick — SVP, Core and Corporate Engineering

Jen Fitzpatrick, who joined Google via its internship program in 1999, was one of the first 30 employees at the company. She was also one of Google's first women engineers.

Fitzpatrick has led teams on Search, Google News, shopping, and AdWords. In 2014, she was appointed VP for Geo, overseeing the entire Google Maps business.

Now Fitzpatrick has moved out of Geo to lead the company's core engineering teams, overseeing more than 8,000 employees.

"Jen's deep product knowledge and experience focusing on important areas such as privacy will set her up well to lead these teams," Pichai wrote in a memo announcing the move earlier this year.

Like Gomes, she continues to report directly to Pichai in her new capacity. Google engineering VP and company veteran Luiz André Barroso will remain working in Core, and now report to Fitzpatrick.

Jeffrey Dean — Head of Google AI

Jeffrey Dean is a Google Senior Fellow and head of the Google AI division. Another 1999 member of the company, Dean earned a reputation for his exceptional coding talent and joined Google's X lab in 2011 to work on deep neural networks.

That eventually led to the creation of Google Brain, the company's research group which Dean continues to lead.

Dean was appointed the head of Google's entire AI division in 2018 during a leadership reshuffle, which spun AI into its own business. He also oversees Google's new Health group, which is using AI to drive many of its projects. David Feinberg, the head of Google Health, reports into Dean. 

"He is a mentor. He cares about people," said one Googler who worked with Dean on several projects. 

During college, Dean worked on the World Health Organization's Global Programme on AIDS, and continues to have a deep interest in the health sector.

Philipp Schindler — SVP and Chief Business Officer

Google's chief business officer has been extremely busy over the past few months, as the company has tried to fend off the effects of COVID-19.

Schindler, who joined Google in 2005, took the role when Google restructured itself under Alphabet in 2015. Not just the face of Google's advertising business, Schindler also weighs in on everything from Google News to the company's moonshots.

The German-born Schindler is a veteran of the early online days, having worked at AOL and Compuserve during the 1990s.

Insiders expect Schindler to work more closely with Raghavan as he steers Google's search and advertising business.

Corey duBrowa — VP, Global Communications and Public Affairs

When it comes to Google's communications, the buck stops with Corey duBrowa. After stints shaping the PR strategy for Starbucks and Salesforce, duBrowa joined Google in 2018 to help build the company's brand.

Corey duBrowa has a direct line to Pichai and wrangles a team of more than 200 staffers. Early on in his Google tenure, duBrowa introduced 'objectives and key results' (OKRs) for the company communications team – something Pichai uses with his own direct reports.

"For years, Google was data-rich and analysis poor," DuBrowa told listeners during an interview at a Holmes Report event last year. "We're in the process of building the kind of analytics engine and team to help us be more precise." 

And if you happen to come across Corey duBrowa's byline in Rolling Stone and GQ, that's because he was also a music journalist in a past life.

Ben Smith — Google Fellow

Like Jen Fitzpatrick, Ben Smith joined Google in 1999 from the company's internship program. He was so enamored with the company at the time that he left his graduate program to join Google's Search efforts — and has remained with Google ever since.

Smith is a member of the old guard, and a technical advisor to the office of the CEO. While he's less in the public eye than other members of Pichai's squad, you'll occasionally see his name appear alongside Google blog posts.

Tom Oliveri — VP, CEO Team

Tom Oliveri joined Google in 2005 where he worked on Google's first payment service, before transitioning to lead marketing for various Google products, eventually overseeing marketing for Chrome and Android in a VP role.

Oliveri is currently a VP of the CEO team and, insiders say, a particularly close confidant of Pichai's. Oliveri's reports include Jeff Markowitz, who joined Google as a leadership advisor in 2019.

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