Android Chief Andy Rubin and Sundar Pichai

Andy-rubin

Andy Rrubin (Photo: Google)

Google is replacing Android chief Andy Rubin, who oversaw development of the mobile operating system at his Android Inc. and then at Google, and saying Rubin will begin “a new chapter” at the company.

But chatter among company insiders is that the end of Rubin’s old job isn’t about turning over a new leaf so much as it is about a tightening at Google, in terms of both company focus and leadership. In this view, Rubin’s transition out of the Android division is of a piece with former Google VP Marissa Mayer’s transition out of Google.

Key to both moves, of course, is Google CEO Larry Page, who has sought to put more wood behind fewer arrows at Google, a company once famous for its willingness to nurture experimental employee passion-projects – as well as for its failure to quickly combat Facebook and the threat social networking posed to Google’s business model. Page famously froze Mayer out of his “L Team” inner circle after he became CEO two years ago and began diverting more resources into the Google+ social networking initiative.

sundar-pichai

Sundar Pichai (Photo: Google)

It seems to some people at Google that the same is now happening to Rubin. The man replacing him, Google Chrome chief Sundar Pichai, is close with Page, according to a Google veteran, more so than Rubin. The two operating system chiefs have long clashed as part of a political struggle between Rubin’s Android and Pichai’s Chrome OS, and the very different views of the future each man espouses. The two operating systems, both based on Linux, are converging, with Android growing into tablets and Chrome OS shrinking into smaller and smaller laptops, including some powered by chips using the ARM architecture popular in smartphones. (Rubin did not respond to a request for comment.)

At the old Google, Android and ChromeOS might have been allowed to continue to flourish in tandem, even as they began to grow parallel functionality. But Page’s Google is all about focus; early in his tenure, Google shut down Google Labs and began curtailing product launches and setting a higher bar for employee “20 percent time” experiments.

There’s a certain logic to consolidating the two operating systems, but it does seem odd that the man in charge of Android – far and away the more successful and promising of the two systems – did not end up on top. And there are hints that the move came as something of a surprise even inside the company; Rubin’s name was dropped from a SXSW keynote just a few days before the Austin, Texas conference began.

It’s entirely possible that Rubin will move on to bigger and more innovative things. Already, there is speculation he might join Google’s high-profile Glass project. Page’s note on the company blog didn’t specify, saying simply, “Andy, more moonshots please!” a reference to the secret, and typically far out on the horizon tech being cooked up within Google X. Rubin may pursue his own ideas within the Googley skunkworks.

Andy Rubin’s Profile Sundar Pichai’s Profile
Background

Andy Rubin co-founder of Android Inc. and serves as its Head of Development. Mr. Rubin Co-Founded Danger Inc., a wireless software and services company responsible for creating the T-Mobile Sidekick, in 2000 and served as its President and Chief Executive officer. Mr. Rubin led the communications engineering team at WebTV Networks. He was instrumental in building and shipping WebTV, the first interactive television-based Internet service, which was acquired by Microsoft in 1995. Prior to WebTV, Mr. Rubin designed and implemented the communications capabilities for General Magic’s handheld devices. Mr. Rubin Co-Founded Android, Inc. in 2003 and served as its Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Rubin served as an Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) of Redpoint Ventures, where he focused his expertise on assessing opportunities in the wireless and digital imaging areas. Mr. Rubin served as an Advisor of Reactrix Systems, Inc. Mr. Rubin also served various leadership roles focused on communications technology with Apple Computer, where he and his team shipped the world’s first host-based software modem. In 1993, Mr. Rubin led the effort to ship the Motorola Envoy, one of the first wireless PDAs (personal digital assistants). Mr. Rubin served as a Director of Danger, Inc. Mr. Rubin holds a BS in Computer Science from Syracuse University.

Background

Mr. Sundar Pichai has been Senior Vice President of Chrome of Google Inc. since April 2011. Mr. Pichai served as Vice President of Product Management at Google Inc. Mr. Pichai leads the product management and innovation efforts for a suite of Google’s search and consumer products, including iGoogle, Google Toolbar, Desktop Search and Gadgets, Google Pack, and Gears. He joined Google in 2004. Before joining Google, he held various engineering and product management positions at Applied Materials, and was a Management Consultant with McKinsey & Company, Inc. for a variety of software and semiconductor clients. He has more than 15 years of experience developing high-tech consumer and enterprise products. He has been a Director of Jive Software, Inc. since March 2011. He served as a Member of Board of Advisors at Ruba, Inc. Mr. Pichai received a B.Tech. from the Indian Institute of Technology and was awarded an Institute Silver Medal. He holds an M.S. in Engineering and Materials Science from Stanford University and an MBA from the Wharton School, where he was named a Siebel Scholar and a Palmer Scholar.

Profile Source: Business Week

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