Interview with Google CEO Pichai: hope to rotate 60% of employees to work before the end of the year

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Sina Technology News in the afternoon of May 20, Beijing time, like all large technology companies, Google and alphabet played an extraordinary role in our lives during the new coronavirus pandemic. Whether it is to help people find reliable information when searching, cooperate with the government in virus detection, develop track system in Android and IOS together with apple, or crack down on false information on youtube, Google’s ability and responsibility are unprecedented.
Google and alphabet’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, recently interviewed vergecast to discuss the challenges Google faced during this period, including the challenges of its core advertising business and the problems of its remote management company. Pichai himself is also adapted to remote work; he spends more time reading and thinking, usually on the way to commute. Then he started from scratch, learning how to make pizza, following YouTube video tutorials.
Pichai also talked about Google’s investment in the hardware business, including its pixel mobile product line, and how the company will continue to work to simplify its messaging strategy, which is known for its complexity.
Here is the full interview:
Nilay Patel: there are three things I’m interested in. First, how does Google deal with this epidemic. Second, what’s the impact on your business. Third, I talked with every CEO about time management. I believe that a company as big as Google will have different time management. I’d like to talk about these topics. But two other big news stories about Google are important. I want to ask a few questions about these two news first. First of all, a report from NBC pointed out that the company’s work in diversification has been reduced, and the word “diversification” is not even mentioned in the company. But is it really the case?
Sundar Pichai: diversity is our fundamental value. Given the scale of our product generation and the fact that we serve our users locally, we are particularly committed to maintaining diversity in our workforce. I think we were one of the first companies to launch transparency reports and have been sharing transparency reports ever since. We have just released our latest annual diversity report. We have made some progress in key areas. There is a long way to go. But diversity is important.
What we do always matches our size. Let’s first think about what works and what can be expanded better. What I can say is that at present, our diversified investment, in terms of scale and resources, exceeds any period in the company’s history.
Patel: part of the report is interesting because in the past it’s all about Facebook. But I don’t know if we’ve really talked to Google people. It’s your approach and the way you run the company, more in response to conservative criticism. Do you care which side the criticism comes from?
Pichai: our diversified work, without any angle you said. As an industry, a company, we still lack diversity in many areas. So, we have a lot of work to do. We didn’t think much about the others. I personally believe that within the company, we have made a lot of efforts to ensure that the company can accommodate a variety of perspectives and that everyone has a sense of belonging no matter what the political views or other aspects. That’s it. I think it’s two separate things.
Bohn: the other big news that happened yesterday was that Mario Queiroz and Marc Levoy had quietly left pixel. Moreover, pixel’s sales data is not particularly ideal. At present, is pixel business up to your expectation?
Pichai: I’ll talk about hardware first, then pixel. The past few years have been a major integration phase for us as we are trying to integrate Google hardware with nest. We acquired HTC’s mobile division. Therefore, there are many places to run in. Then, our product portfolio is very broad. Therefore, the past few years have undoubtedly been a stage of construction. In the long run, we will do our best. It’s not easy to make hardware. It involves a variety of components, which take time to prepare, such as the underlying silicon chip or display screen or camera, etc. Of course we are also actively investing, but it will take time. In short, I believe that we are making great progress.
Pixel 3a, released last year, is the highest rated NPs product in our history, and is definitely a benchmark product in the market. So, for me, it shows that we have made great progress. We just released pixel bugs this week, which has a good response. Our next home hub products also perform well.
We see long-term development. We are not limited to mobile phones. We have a vision for the future of computing. I believe that this vision is inseparable from the combination of hardware, software and services. You have to think about the intersection between them. It’s very valuable to look for this kind of intersection and follow it.
Of course, in this process, we are bound to encounter some setbacks. In this complex field, we are still new, and everything will not go smoothly. But I’m still looking forward to the product we’re going to launch later this year. Especially if I look at it from a long-term perspective, because some of our deep-seated work will take three to four years to see the results. When these efforts pay off, I look forward to the way they shape the company’s direction.

Bonn: I remember that every year since the establishment of this department, I have asked you the same question: “how serious are you about hardware?” Then, like an autopilot, you always say, “this is a five year plan.” But the five-year plan always seems to be five years, and has not been pushed forward. So, what do you mean by long-term development is the time that hardware really brings tangible returns, such as significant sales and significant market influence? Or are you expecting something more direct?
Pichai: I mean, we will consider our hardware work within the scope of our overall computing work and the current state of our ecosystem. We will consider these factors. I think it’s also important to build a financially sustainable business. Because I focus on the investment level of hardware, including all the technology research and development you need to do, the supply chain you need to develop, and the investment to enter the market. So it’s a huge investment. To do this well, you need to have a clear, financially sustainable goal. It’s important.
For me, there are three reasons. First, push forward computing. 2、 Guide our ecosystem. At present, everything we have done is progressing well. Back to the early days of Android, the galaxy nexus, which we cooperated with Samsung, is an important mobile phone. Nexus 7 in the tablet space. And chromebooks. We use raw hardware to guide the development of our ecosystem. Then I’ll focus on areas that we haven’t gone into yet – like smart watches. Then you’ll find that it’s not easy to guide an ecosystem the way you want it to be – to build the infrastructure.
This is the second reason. And then the third is to build a truly sustainable hardware business. All of this is important and I’m looking forward to it. Rick osterloh’s team, working closely with Hiroshi lockheimer’s team, has a long-term vision. We are all trying to move towards our goals.
Bonn: you are not only the CEO of Google, but also the CEO of alphabet. How much time can you spare for hardware? Can you see the prototype? Or the level of participation in a weekly meeting? Or does hardware take up most of your time?
Pichai: I think it’s just a coincidence. I also discussed next year’s products with the hardware team this morning.
Bonn: can you tell me something?
Pichai: I’ll know then. This is a good question. Rick and Hiroshi are in charge. But as time goes on, I hope to spend less time and interfere less in their big projects.
Patel: Bonn said he just tested galaxy A51?
Bonn: Yes.
Patel: it’s a cheap cell phone. He gave it seven points. The reason we measure it is——
Pichai: I saw you in the introduction video saying, “this phone outsold the galaxy.” I watched the video.
Bonn: actually, it was the best-selling mobile phone in the world last quarter.
Pichai: I only know from your video. I little interesting. Maybe I should have known that.
Patel: so my question is, but when we see you release new phones, we think, will you compete with Samsung’s flagship devices? Will it compete with the iPhone? What is your position? Will you launch a heavyweight flagship mobile phone and share the top market share?
Pichai: I just mentioned pixel 3A because we have clearly demonstrated a strong value proposition in this part. But that said, if you want to push computing forward, you can’t ignore the high-end models. So we have invested a lot of energy in this area.
So, you will continue to see that we invest in both low-end and high-end equipment. We treat different levels of devices equally – and we are currently developing entry-level devices for our ecosystem. I personally look forward to it. But we actually invest more in high-end equipment. On the high-end equipment, you will see some of our basic investment return. It will take time to accumulate, about two to three years of in-depth investment, before we can do a good job.
Bonn: have you seen – especially now that everyone lives at home – a significant change in consumer behavior in terms of hardware consumption? Do you all go out and buy the nest camera? Or do they think they don’t need these cameras for the time being because they’re staying at home? What do you think has changed?
Pichai: obviously, in terms of software, we clearly see that the epidemic has an impact on the utilization rate of some products. Some products have also been negatively affected. But we can measure these effects. But hardware is a little complex, because it is actually subject to the supply chain, and the supply chain has different effects on different products, of course, demand is also affected. Some are due to the lack of proper retail work and so on. So I think it’s hard to predict when demand will recover right now. At least I don’t think it’s clear yet.
Patel: let’s change the subject and talk about Google’s other businesses and developments. Bonn mentioned consumer behavior. Then I just thought, is Google Maps usage declining?
Pichai: it must have dropped. Just because you don’t use Google maps, you’ve reduced its usage. Make a joke. Don’t mind
Patel: I’ve been using Google maps.

Pichai: to be honest, Google Maps really has a significant decline in usage – obviously, because people don’t drive much. You can see the impact very directly. But what I find more interesting is that in the past two to three weeks, we’ve seen users go back to Google maps to find local information. So we see that user activity is picking up, people are starting to search for services on Google maps, search for nearby businesses that have opened, and so on. People are slowly starting to find and discover local services. This obvious inflection point, however, does not account for too many problems. But at least the trend is there.
Patel: and then for other broad businesses – obviously most of Google’s revenue comes from advertising. We have felt the impact of changes in the advertising market. The world has felt the impact of changes in the advertising market. How do you see the impact on Google? What’s your strategy?
Pichai: I mentioned that in the financial report conference call. Compared with January and February, the impact of March is more obvious. So, to be sure, Google is not immune from the global economy. In some ways, it’s representative in every industry. It is clear that all industries have been affected – tourism is an example of a particularly severe impact – and we feel that as well.
Interestingly, compared with the past cycles, search is very ROI oriented and performance-oriented. So advertisers will take action. They will retreat quickly. We have seen changes in demand and people are adapting. But you’ll see the activities in “office furniture” right away. So you can see real-time changes in the economy. These trends are very interesting. But there is no doubt that our business has been affected.
Bonn: in your earnings conference call, you hinted that the impact would not be resolved in the next quarter. We are in a difficult time. But no matter how long it will take to get out of these influences, do you think the advertising market will shrink significantly compared with a year ago? Or do you think your advertising business or the whole business will find fundamental changes? Or is it too early to predict the future?
Pichai: This is a question that everyone is thinking: are the interesting things you see back to the average level? Can tourism return to its former level? wait.
Given the nature of the virus, it’s really hard to predict how long the outbreak will last. We usually think that the impact of the epidemic will last for some time. I think that’s the right way to look at the epidemic. As a company, we will assume that it will take a long time to return to normal, and then we will plan for this. Others, I don’t know.
I think that in terms of social interaction, the need to meet people is the most basic. Personally, I can’t wait to get back to the normal Want to go to a game or something.
Do I want to go to the concert? Of course, why not! So I believe that the inherent needs of human beings are there. But I think it will take a while to get back to normal. I think it should be a slow but steady recovery.
Patel: so what do you think about the need for recovery? At Google, you tell us that we will work remotely from home throughout 2020. What do you think of Google? And then, more broadly, what do you think of the need for recovery across the United States?
Pichay: at first, I thought we were one of the first companies to allow people to work from home, in part because I thought it meant something to keep employees healthy and safe. I think that since most of our work can be done at home, it is certainly necessary for us to support and advocate social distance. Obviously, this demand is very different among different groups. We talked about the hardware before, it must use test equipment, laboratory, these are very important. You’re in a test environment, and you can’t test whether something works in a 5g environment.
So, there are big differences between different teams. But when it comes to asking you to go back to work, we will take a conservative approach. If allowed by local laws and regulations, we will first let 10% – 15% of the employees return to work in the company, and give priority to the employees who really need to return to work in the company. In this way, we can maintain low environmental density and implement various safety measures. Then we say that 10% – 15% of the employees do not mean that the actual number is so much – we may take the method of rotation to let more employees go back to work every week and every other week.
Then you’ll find that people have two very different attitudes. Some want to go back to work very much. They miss such scenes. Especially at Google, for more than 20 years, we have been investing in our office environment and the culture we have created so that we can work together better. So, I know, depending on their personal circumstances, some people will miss that experience. But there are others who are more conservative. So we will try to take care of everyone’s feelings.
But I hope that by the end of this year, our capacity can be restored to 20% – 30%. That is to say, we can let almost 60% of our employees go back to work once a week, or in a similar situation. So, that’s what we’re saying, most of the employees will work from home until the end of this year. But this is a dynamic situation. If things get better, we will adjust accordingly. We want to be flexible. Try to really understand, in this case, what works and what doesn’t.
Bonn: do you have long-term considerations about the number of people working from home or remotely? Twitter announced that it could work from home permanently. That is to say, you can work at home as long as you like. Do you have a similar plan? Or do you want to wait and see?
Pichai: I want to talk about data. So I think of it as a research phase, and then see how the data guide us. In some ways, I’m glad Twitter is doing such an “extreme” experiment. So thank you, Jack Dorsey. Can give us such a reference.

In some ways, productivity has indeed declined. What I don’t know is that in the first two months, most of them have been working on the projects at hand, so they also know what to do later. But next, in the next stage, for example, when you design next year’s products, you are in the stage of brainstorming, and things are still messy. How to cooperate at this time? This is difficult to understand and operate. So, this is what we want to figure out. We want to figure out what we can and what we can’t do.
In this regard, we may adopt a more conservative attitude. We want to make sure everything is OK. But from all these points of view, are we all learning and have more flexibility in dealing with this matter? I think the answer is yes. I’m willing to make this bet.
Patel: next, I’m going to ask you about information application strategy. I want to get to the bottom of it. You have to cooperate with me.
Pichai: it seems that it’s impossible to join your podcast without talking about our news application.
Bonn: pop quiz, hotspot, all kinds of products, whatever.
Pichai: the complexity of our message application is to keep you busy.
Patel: Google has always been good at internal testing and using its products. Obviously, at this moment, the way these products are used has never been valued as before. You added the group image view to meet. It seems that there should be a button here, but suddenly you find that the button is not there, and then suddenly, it appears again. But there are bigger competitors. There are more consumer facing companies that are succeeding, like zoom. Are you clear about the moment? For example, “we have to win this war. We know what to do because we’re trying to use our products as well. ”
Pichai: of course this is a very important moment. A few months ago, Javier Soltero joined us. We know exactly what we want. So, some work is already in progress. And then in some ways, when the epidemic breaks out, we haven’t fully addressed the changes we expect.
I think it’s interesting that Google meet team develops and iterates products through remote work to achieve the expected results. Javier lives a little far away from the company. In fact, he is far away. One of his biggest concerns when he joined us was the problem of commuting. But his current job is entirely remote. But this is an important moment. Many schools and organizations are already using Google meet. So we are redoubling our efforts.
Clearly, the epidemic blurs the line between consumers and businesses. People use these products in a variety of scenarios. So, there is no doubt that we see it as an opportunity to expand the scale of Google meet and Google chat to make these two products better used.
Of course, we are service providers, but also a platform. So it’s the same with RCS and everything we do. In RCS, our role is like that of the United Nations, bringing people together. So, the actual progress is better than it looks, because you’ve got a lot of people here. When they sign up, you can see more and more momentum.
So I think it’s very well integrated. I’m also very happy that our cooperation with Javier has been particularly smooth. He works not only with our cloud service team, but also with our platform team. I think our current positioning is very good.
Bonn: you mentioned RCS. Then I will ask
Pichai: I knew Bonn had something to say.
Bonn: when Facebook said “we want to integrate all the company’s communication products and fully encrypt all the content end-to-end”, do you think Google’s route of providing multiple products in multiple scenarios is still feasible? Or do you think more integration is needed?
Pichai: we want to have more integration and a simpler view. But in all scenarios, our platform is providing services. As part of the open platform stack, Android is open source. I think you will need an open standard communication framework. Then from the era of short messages began to develop.
We will continue to maintain this route in all scenarios. Because we believe this is part of building an open stack. At present, I don’t think there will be any change. But when it comes to our services, I want to simplify them as much as possible. And compared with Google meet and chat, I think we have made great progress. We launched Duo for consumers, then Google meet and chat for businesses. But the line has become blurred. The underlying layer of these tools uses the same technology. They are all based on webrtc and have a lot of common work. And since they have a common team, it is hoped that future iterations will not be a problem.
In general, I think there is still some flexibility here.
Patel: let’s start with the phone. One of the reasons Apple phones are so sticky is that they have a great information product. Do you think there is a connection between the two? Does Google need a sticky instant messaging product to attract users?
Pichai: I want to answer this question from the perspective of users and technology.
From the user’s point of view, no matter which Android phone you buy, you will always want an information product based on phone number, and you need not only to send messages, but also some other functions attached to the platform, which we are trying to do. I think this integration is crucial, and this is where Android is lagging behind. So that’s really important.

Technically, different OEMs and operators have different RCS implementations, which is one of the biggest reasons for Android system crash. This breakdown caused real pain. As a result, simplification will multiply in terms of productivity, efficiency and streamlining. For these two reasons, I think it’s important to invest and invest properly.
Patel: so we’re going to “trick” you here in the name of discussing the new crown of pop, but it’s mainly about information products. I think we should still talk about the pop.
Pichai: (laughs) wow, it’s a surprise.
Patel: I think your team is well prepared for you. You must have known that I was going to ask this question for a long time. Every week, when trump and his team held up the flowchart and shouted, “look, there are thousands of Google engineers working on it,” I took a small notebook and wrote it down.
Then talk to me. That day, trump said someone called from Google to apologize. Did you anticipate the day? Is it true? What happened during that time?
Pichai: in the novel coronavirus epidemic early stage, we decided that as an enterprise, we should do everything we can in the field that our professional knowledge can touch. So we made a lot of efforts.
Two novel coronavirus task forces have been contacted by the White House. One of them is what Google can do to provide more information; the other is a large-scale testing method that verily is developing, which emphasizes direct testing in particular, with a focus on first responders. We have worked with the White House on both, and that’s what happened.
Today, I think verily is currently in 86 sites in 13 states. That’s what we’ve done. Obviously, it took more time than most of us expected, because there were some limitations in the process. But I think we have made great progress. Our view is that novel coronavirus is a global pandemic. We hope to make every effort to help the US government succeed. So we are trying to play our part in it.
Patel: then I’ll ask you directly. Did you call president trump to apologize?
Pichai: I’m in contact with the task force, and the conversation is with them.
Patel: that’s a good answer. I suddenly realized that Google and verily are not clearly separated. I think what I’m going to say next is: do you understand? You are the CEO of alphabet. Verily belongs to alphabet, and you are also the head of Google.
Pichai: I think we are communicating in two areas. We are a bit mixed. I confirm that as a business leader, I have the responsibility to clarify and clarify our way of communication. I don’t think we should go back and forth on two issues, so I want to make sure our communication is clear.
Patel: so what is the relationship between verily and Google now? Do you have any volunteers working on the verily project?
Pichai: Yes. Because verily and Google are both part of alphabet, we see it as an area where we can help. That is to say, sometimes Google is working on healthcare, and verily is also working on healthcare. If we share resources where we need to, then sometimes Google may make breakthroughs in AI, which is verily’s way of commercialization. At the technical level, we can exchange views. At the regulatory level, we work together to build a compliance process and a complete framework. Whether it’s Google or verily, I’m excited to see progress.
Bonn: do you think that distinction works? Even if both companies belong to alphabet? Or do you have any changes in your mind about the differences between alphabet and verily, and between alphabet and Google?
Pichai: that’s a good question. In many ways, I find it really helpful to distinguish between the two, because when you use something like waymo, the time frame it takes is completely different from building a typical Internet product. I like this structural separation. Google’s management team doesn’t need to sit down and think about the whole situation, so they can focus more. This difference allows us to make different bets according to different characteristics and different time ranges.
So alphabet creates this flexibility. We believe that the fundamental common ground of the whole alphabet is that there must be a deeper technical basis, that is, to solve problems based on some basic technology. This is the potential commonality.
Google focuses on the internet widely. You know, if (a problem) is obviously different from others, but still allows us to apply a certain technology – maybe AI or our data center, etc., then we must also have the right structure, the right incentives, and the right methods to solve this problem. So I think that flexibility is very important. I think sometimes we might see something and say, “Hey, it’s a pity it’s in Google. Maybe it’s more meaningful in alphabet.” vice versa. So we built a lot of structures to create that flexibility. Nest is a good example, it is more closely linked with the hardware team, and obviously there is integration.
Patel: so under alphabet, there are some major health programs. Verily is just one of them. I think this is the highlight of biotechnology and health science. Do you think that novel coronavirus pandemic is now fully focused on Verily? Or is it doing something else?

Pichai: it’s just one of many things. A lot of people on verily are doctors and paramedics. Obviously, in the current situation, by calling, they are willing to provide a lot of help. But there are a lot of concerns, such as chronic diseases like diabetes. They are clearly also focusing on other aspects of health care, and they will continue to do so. All the focus is on the ongoing and unremitting efforts.
Patel: what novel coronavirus and influenza pandemic are doing in Google? What else do we have besides websites?
Pichai: Google is doing a lot. So far, we have invested more than $1 billion in various ways, including donations to the public health organization, advertising credit to SMEs, and direct loan projects to SMEs through official institutions in each country. We have made efforts in personal protective equipment. Rick’s team has done a lot of in-depth work on the ventilator. We support schools with products like meet. We also offer chromebooks, which cover a wide range of efforts.
In addition, we have made great efforts in contact tracking with apple.
Patel: the cooperation between Google and apple on this level is not common. Why did the cooperation begin? How did you and Tim Cook talk? How is the cooperation between your two companies going?
Pichai: it’s a great job. At the beginning, I think we all saw the problem, saw the opportunity to do something, and the team started to solve it. At the right time, you will realize the problem, but the key is to solve it well. We all know that there are many things that are actually difficult to operate.
So we realized that as a platform provider, we really want things to be simpler, and let it operate on a large scale with the consent of users and privacy protection. So the team started talking, and they saw an opportunity to do better, so Tim and I started talking. We decided to “announce together” because it would help to clarify that we would always solve this problem.
Therefore, for the planning of public health organizations, we want to give a clear commitment and a framework that they can actually invest in, and we will support it as a platform.
The two teams have weekly discussions at the two companies, and we are talking to public health organizations around the world. You will see that some big countries are developing a service in an all-round way. Novel coronavirus is a new tool that we need to add to the work. We want to make sure that we create the option value and add another step to the toolkit.
Patel: when you’re on the phone with Tim Cook, what problems do you two need to solve together, or do you two need to make decisions together?
Pichai: I want to give you an example. When I discuss with Tim, it’s really about deciding when to face the public and how to make everything clear. This discussion is earlier than usual.
Usually, we may wait for the situation to develop and fully discuss more issues. But we are all aware that, given the public nature of this matter and the responsible dialogue you need to have with many social institutions, we think it is necessary to publish it, share details and have a dialogue. So we made this decision. We think the two teams have their own ideas on when to release this issue. Then we discussed it and finally decided to release it as soon as possible.
Bonn: you and I talked about Google’s responsibilities in AI. Google wants to make sure that AI is ethical. The decision to step up puts you in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of a whole bunch of different countries that have their own health organizations. What do you think of your responsibilities in this pandemic? Because from a certain point of view, this problem has risen to the level of social contract between the government and users. Of course, you can also say “no, No. We’re just a technology company, “or what else do you think?
Pichai: that’s a good question. We are dealing with a once-in-a-century problem, so it’s important. I want to do what we can [and] always realize that we are a business, a private business, working at a very public time. Obviously, we have products, people choose our products and rely on it. Whether in providing high-quality information, or in the process of processing this information, getting the right information is better than everything else. This is the best way we can do it.
In addition, supporting our employees and the communities we operate in are all going hand in hand. There are also some long-term efforts, because we have a deep technical foundation, and we can use these technologies to support who, medical institutions and so on. That’s what I think.
I think this is an important moment for a big company to come forward. But I think you need to do it in an architecture where you realize that you are a private enterprise, and you are just a small part of the big value chain that solves this problem.
Patel: it’s an interesting statement because you’re solving some new problems. We’ll use Bluetooth in everyone’s cell phone for exposure notifications. I think that’s a new idea historically. Because people haven’t done this before, there are still many new problems to be solved.
On the other hand, there are still some very old problems to be solved. Do people have reliable information? Can they trust their leaders? Can they trust the company they depend on? Google obviously provides a lot of information in search, and Youtube also has a lot of information.
However, there are some large-scale rumor campaigns on both platforms. Facebook recently announced the creation of a contentious content Oversight Committee on its platform. Do you think you need to do something to manage the old problem of platform confidence and reliability?

Pichai: This is the foundation of our company. Search is to show the highest quality information through network design, so this is something we have been thinking about for a long time. Obviously, the current challenges have become more complex and more difficult, so we have evolved our approach as well.
I’ve always been interested in the daily behavior of the public. For example, in the past four years, we have relied entirely on outside experts to classify YouTube information. On the issue of violent extremism, we work with anti extremist organizations, and we use their expertise to formulate our policies. When we formulated a hate and harassment policy last year, we consulted many organizations and listened to them.
Therefore, I believe that relying on the professional knowledge of senior experts, non-profit organizations and governments is the way we deal with problems. So I think, whether you set up a monitoring committee or not, I will see what I can learn from it, and I will definitely study it. I think it’s important to understand that.
I think we will be more flexible. If we find something useful, we will adopt it very openly. But in terms of direction, we are trying to introduce external investment in policy definition and other aspects. That’s how we think.
Patel: I’d like to ask you how you manage Google. As vergecast’s audience knows, I often end up asking, “how do you manage your time?” There used to be a very clear set of answers to this question. But now, everything has changed. So as Google’s CEO, you’re clearly running a huge business remotely. You’re dealing with the government, you’re dealing with your employees. How do you manage your time to run your business now?
Pichai: I’m trying two parallel tracks. One is clear, novel coronavirus outbreaks are important, so I spend a lot of time on such things, and I would not spend that time two months ago.
But at the same time, I also want to make sure that companies in the operators are focused on continuing all the efforts they are making, and can make effective differentiation. So I want to make sure that we have a real sense of normality in our meetings, which is why when I share our product plans for next year, I give an example of this morning’s meeting. This is just an ordinary meeting, I would have attended.
Patel: what happened to the meeting?
Pichai: it’s just that it’s very difficult to arrange the time. There are many things and the arrangement is very full. That’s the difference of this meeting.
Patel: I’m so close.
Pichai: (laughs) Yes, just a little bit. That’s why I laugh.
Patel: so you’re meeting at a normal pace and a normal feeling. What are the changes in your time management?
Pichai: I talked to some people who used to work from home, and the answer I heard was, “working from home is as important as working from office.”
I think it’s more difficult for it department. How to delimit the boundary? I miss transitions so much that it gives me the opportunity to think about things and process changes. In this way, it is more efficient, because you can browse what we are doing now, which may take more time, maybe I can’t do a podcast.
But I missed the transition. I miss the space where I can think quietly. So, for me, it’s definitely something I need to improve. But I have to arrange my time. I have a clear understanding of the main areas of the company. I want to spend my time on work. In fact, every three months, I look back at the calendar to see if I spend my time on what I want to do. And I do it all the time. So if anything goes wrong, I step back and think, “what can I do to make sure I get back to the way I want to live?”
So it’s a constant process. Sometimes, when you look back, you suddenly realize that you have done something wrong, and then you start to correct it. That’s what I think.
Patel: so the classic question I asked was, “when do you work?” Because this is an issue that I am very concerned about. It sounds like you spend a lot of time thinking about these transitions, so how do you plan your time now?
Pichai: that’s a good question. I try to set time limits on my calendar, especially for reading and thinking. I think it’s hard to do that, but in fact, you have to.
That’s why I have time to watch your galaxy A51 video. Sometimes, we just want to know what happened? Then it took some time. So I think it’s important to squeeze out thinking time. But I’m also trying to draw the line. There is no doubt that I am cultivating my hobbies, which I have never thought of before. Thanks to some cooking videos on youtube, I tried to make pizza last week. The results were good. So, these videos are really helpful.
Patel: what are the main indicators of the changes you see in the next year, especially in the course of the epidemic, that others may not have noticed? Maybe it’s just for Google, maybe it’s for a wider audience. But what signals do you see? You can get a lot of signals. How did you find out about change?
Pichai: it’s effectively changing the user model. Think, is telemedicine real? Is there continuity? Still, it’s just something people are doing for a while, and people will go back to the way they did things before.
So, in terms of the recovery model, you need to think about where you see the real difference, the long-term difference. That’s what we’re trying to find and understand. How will our work culture change? What will happen to travel and meetings in the long run?
Education is a big area that we are concerned about. I know you are always passionate about rural broadband. For me, distance learning can really find these gaps. So, I think it’s a long-term process to figure out how to achieve these goals through connectivity and computing, and we’re working on it.

But I think it’s a great thing to try to capture the moment when things change and try to adapt to change with data-driven. I think these moments are also opportunities to build the future. History shows that in such an era, because many people are facing many problems, entrepreneurs need to rethink and solve problems. So, it’s definitely worth paying attention to.
Patel: do you think things are different around the world? You have a lot of data from all over the world, and now the world is in a different state. What do you see, are there any signs of continuous change?
Pichai: one thing is very striking. I think in our lifetime, we have never seen such a global moment. Everyone seems to experience a similar experience. It’s unique, and it’s one of the few positive factors. It makes me feel like a moment when the whole human race is united.
But to be sure, when you look at some countries in Asia, they have experienced an epidemic and gradually returned to normal. We do see some changes. For example, people are used to shopping online, and some changes still exist. We see this trend, but I see more in common. For me, it shows the commonness of human beings, not the differences between us. So what I see is more about common patterns than differences. (cherry tree)