One big focus for Google today is making products for what it dubs the Next Billion Users in countries just coming online. The initiative has been led by Caesar Sengupta who announced today that he’s leaving Google after nearly 15 years.
Jan 2006. I had just finished solving a linked list problem on the whiteboard during my Google interview when my interviewer asked me about my personal interests. I hesitatingly brought up my love of poetry. The interviewer immediately asked me to recite my favorite poem* and we then spent the next 10 minutes discussing it. At that instant I knew that a company where two engineers discussed beauty, emotions and poetry during an interview was something special and I had to sign up. And so I did.
Sengupta joined Google in 2006 working on Google Toolbar, Google Desktop, and Payments as a product manager. From 2009-2015, he oversaw Chrome OS as product lead and later vice president.
In 2015, Sengupta started his current role as VP and general manager of the Next Billion Users effort and three years later added Payments. That team relaunched Google Pay last year in the US, with Sengupta providing an update on its progress in a goodbye letter:
Launch feedback was very positive and growth has been strong especially with younger and more mobile users. You’re riding one of the biggest waves in tech that will change everyone’s relationship with money. Hold on tight. You have the right strategy, the right team and the wind is on your back. This ride will be epic!
At this point my priority is to ensure that we keep executing brilliantly with minimal disruption. I know that you all have the steadfast support of our leadership, who are confident in the strategic importance of Payments and NBU.
Notable NBU products include Files Go, which later became the file manager for all Android devices, and the Go family of apps (Search, Gallery, Gmail, Maps, Assistant, Camera). Google Finance was also overhauled during his tenure.
A longtime friend of Sundar Pichai, he had an anecdote about the CEO in a WSJ profile last year:
Some 13 years ago, the two split an office, where they played jokes on each other. One time, Mr. Pichai sent a fake resignation letter on behalf of an employee to Mr. Sengupta.
“The weight of the world is quite heavy on those shoulders,” Mr. Sengupta says. “I haven’t seen him prank anyone in many, many, many years.”
Caesar Sengupta’s last day at Google is on April 30:
I haven’t decided what I will start next. I am going to take some time to chill, talk to interesting people, reconnect with the external world and ride my bike (my latest obsession, picked up during the lockdown)! I know that my decision may come as a shock to many of you, and I apologize for any pain or disappointment this might cause. But you’ve often heard me say that our time on earth is our most precious resource, and it’s time for me to find a new way to make my impact on it.
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