Google’s AI development is under CEO Sundar Pichai’s leadership.

Google's AI development is under CEO Sundar Pichai's leadership.

Google’s AI CEO, Sundar Pichai, has initiated significant changes within the tech giant to accelerate the development and deployment of its artificial intelligence (AI) products. This comes in response to criticism regarding Google falling behind competitors like Microsoft in this domain. In a memo issued on Thursday, Pichai outlined the restructuring plan.

Under the new arrangement, all teams working on Google’s AI models, including the flagship Gemini chatbot, will be consolidated within the DeepMind division led by Demis Hassabis. This consolidation encompasses research, models, computing resources, and teams responsible for ensuring their accuracy and reliability.

Additionally, a new platform and devices team, headed by Rick Osterloh, Senior Vice President of Devices and Services, will oversee the integration of hardware and software for Android, the Chrome browser, search, and photos.

Google's AI development is under CEO Sundar Pichai's leadership.
Google’s AI development is under CEO Sundar Pichai’s leadership.

Hiroshi Lockheimer, formerly head of Android, will transition to other product responsibilities, with Sameer Samat, Vice President of Product Management for Android and Google Play, stepping into his role.

Pichai emphasized that these changes build upon efforts made over the past year to streamline the company’s structure and enhance agility and execution. The restructuring aims to accelerate innovation within the Android and Chrome ecosystems, expedite the delivery of innovations to partners, and facilitate quicker decision-making processes internally.

This restructuring marks the most significant overhaul of Google parent company Alphabet’s structure since the integration of its DeepMind and Google Brain AI units a year prior. It grants considerable authority to Demis Hassabis, who, since Google’s acquisition of his startup in 2014, has become a pivotal figure in the company’s AI development and product strategy.

Google aims to overcome a setback experienced in February when it halted image generation in Gemini due to controversy surrounding inaccurate historical depictions of various ethnicities and genders. This incident further fueled perceptions of Google’s model lagging behind competitors such as OpenAI, Meta, and Anthropic.

Google's AI development is under CEO Sundar Pichai's leadership.
Google’s AI development is under CEO Sundar Pichai’s leadership.

Criticism has also been directed at CEO Sundar Pichai for the company’s slower pace in commercializing generative AI, despite the technology being developed in-house by Google researchers. Some attribute this delay to Google’s fragmented organizational structure, bureaucratic hurdles inherent in large companies, and the absence of a cohesive company-wide strategy for deploying generative AI across its products and services.

Particularly impactful has been Microsoft’s $13 billion partnership with OpenAI, granting access to the widely acclaimed ChatGPT model. This collaboration has propelled Microsoft to become the world’s most valuable listed company, with a market capitalization exceeding $3 trillion, surpassing Alphabet’s slightly less than $2 trillion.

The restructuring precedes Google’s first-quarter earnings announcement on April 25 and its annual I/O developer conference on May 14 and 15, hosted at its headquarters in Mountain View, California.

In addition, Pichai addressed an employee protest concerning an AI and cloud contract with the Israeli government and military. Nine workers were arrested after occupying senior executives’ offices, and on Wednesday, 28 employees allegedly associated with the “No Tech for Apartheid” group were terminated. Pichai emphasized the company’s stance as a workplace, stating that disruptive behaviors, attempts to utilize the company as a personal platform, or engaging in contentious political debates are not tolerated.

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