India-born CEOs now run two of the world’s most valuable brands and three of the biggest names in the global technology sector.
On Aug. 10, Sundar Pichai got the ultimate promotion at Google, where the Chennai-born, Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur graduate has been named CEO. With Google restructuring into a conglomerate it’s calling Alphabet, Stanford-trained Pichai will be responsible for a slimmed-down version of the technology giant. But in overseeing the search engine business, plus Android and Chrome, he’ll still be responsible for one of the biggest cash-flow generators on the planet.
The kick up the ladder also puts Pichai in the league of extraordinary, India-born tech CEOs—alongside Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and Nokia’s Rajiv Suri—who head companies that together churned out $159.6 billion in revenue last year. (For Google, we have considered 89% of the company’s total revenue for 2014, representing the revenue contribution of the units now under Pichai’s control.) The combined revenue of these three brands exceeds the gross domestic product of some 140 countries. For reference, the GDP of Hungary last year was $137 billion.
Nadella, who was appointed the CEO of Microsoft in February 2014, was born in Hyderabad and studied at the Manipal Institute of Technology, a well-known engineering school in India. He joined Microsoft in 1992 and ran the company’s fast-growing cloud division before he was named CEO.
Two months after Nadella’s appointment, Suri was chosen as president and CEO of Nokia. Like Nadella, he studied engineering at Manipal Institute of Technology. He joined the Finland-based company’s telecom business in India as a system marketing manager in 1995, and quickly rose up the ranks.