Yet another senior executive of Indian origin is running a major unit of a global company; this time, it’s Google’s new blockchain division.
Engineer Shivakumar Venkataraman has been appointed to oversee “blockchain and other next-gen distributed computing and data storage technologies.” He has been at Google for nearly two decades, working on the company’s core business of search advertising.
He joins other recent Indian-origin appointees at top firms, such as Leena Nair at Chanel, and Parag Agrawal at Twitter. Barclays appointed CS Venkatakrishnan as its CEO on Nov. 1. Venkataraman’s top boss is Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Alphabet, who is also Indian.
Venkataraman, 52, is from Hyderabad. In 1990, he graduated in computer science engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai.
He then went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US for a doctorate in computer science. Venkataraman started his professional journey as a summer intern at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, before moving on to IBM as a software engineer.
He joined Google in 2003, and eventually assumed responsibility for its core search advertisement business. In January, he was promoted to vice president of the recently-revived division Google Labs, which is home to the company’s research into virtual and augmented reality, more than a decade after it was discontinued.
After years of conservatism, Google has seemingly warmed up to Web3—which uses blockchain, the same system used by cryptocurrencies and NFTs. Venkataraman is a key hire in an area that’s arguably been left to other companies.
“Crypto is something we pay a lot of attention to,” Google executive Bill Ready told Bloomberg. “As user demand and merchant demand evolves, we’ll evolve with it.”