Just months after Apple, Inc. (AAPL) shook up its ranks with the departure of former iOS senior vice president Scott Forstall, Google Inc. (GOOG) has announced its own executive shakeup in its mobile operating system ranks. Google has announced that Android co-founder and former Android Inc. CEO Andy Rubin will be stepping down from his post as head of development for the mobile operating system.
I. Google’s Smartphone Team Gets Fresh Blood
Mr. Rubin will remain at Google, but will begin an undefined “new chapter” at the company. Google CEO Larry Page writes, “Having exceeded even the crazy ambitious goals we dreamed of for Android—and with a really strong leadership team in place—Andy’s decided it’s time to hand over the reins and start a new chapter at Google. Andy, more moonshots please!”
Taking those reins will be Google senior vice president Sundar Pichai, a leader on the Chrome browser and Android apps teams. Mr. Pichai holds a M.S. degree from Stanford University and a MBA from Wharton School, where he earned numerous honors.
Sundar Pichai will lead the Android team. [Image Source: Reuters]
Mr. Pichai will continue to manage Chrome OS in addition to the Android ecosystem, which today consists of 750+ million devices and hundreds of thousands of apps. There’s a great deal of speculation that Google may merge Chrome OS with the Android platform, a move that could reenergize the struggling Google laptop operating system.
II. A Decade With Android
Andy Rubin had been leading the Android team for a decade.
He started his career in the 1980s as a roboticist with Carl Zeiss Meditec AG (ETR:AFX). He first jumped into the consumer electronics industry with a 1989-1992 stint in Apple’s manufacturing department. From there he went on to work as engineer at MagicCap, a mid-1990s PDA operating system maker, which was run by later iPod co-creator Tony Fadell.
After MagicCap was folded into the MSN TV project, Andy Rubin set out on his own in 1999 co-founding Danger Inc., an all-in-one hardware/software/services firm that created the “Sidekick”, a top early proto-smartphone. Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) would eventually acquire Danger in Feb. 2008 for $500M USD.
Andy Rubin (left) at the 2011 unveil of the Galaxy Nexus. [Image Source: Reuters]
But by then Mr. Rubin had already left. In 2003 he left his position as Danger Inc. CEO to co-found a new mobile operating systems startup, Android Inc. He served as CEO at Android until 2005, when Google acquired the company.
The Android unit would continue to quietly develop its product under Mr. Rubin’s leadership until 2007, when the smartphone OS stormed onto the market. Despite its high profile backing, Android would not catch on in a big way until 2009. But slowly, it accelerated its sales pace, thanks to strong third party support. By 2010 it was the market leader in unit sales. Today it is by far the world’s most used smartphone operating system.
While coverage of Mr. Rubin’s departure will likely jump on the angle of its timing with respect to Mr. Forstall’s departure, the departures appear merely coincidental; unlike Mr. Forstall, Mr. Rubin was widely regarded as well-liked and has not been forced out of the greater Google empire.
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