Google's CEO faces calls to step down amidst company turmoil

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Google, once considered nearly an unstoppable force in Silicon Valley, has come down to earth a bit in recent months and years. There have been mass layoffs, drops in employee morale, and critical missteps in artificial intelligence. Google is trying to rapidly advance its AI developments and product offerings, but the company is still seen as lagging behind the likes of OpenAI and Microsoft. All these factors came to a head last month when Google pulled the plug on Gemini’s AI image generation tool after receiving national backlash. That’s why some well-respected members of the tech community are calling on Google’s CEO to step down.

One analyst, Ben Thompson, said as much in his “Stratechery” newsletter. Thompson described Google as needing a “transformation.” He compared the inflection point that Google faces now to the one that Microsoft faced years ago. Google, with a near-total monopoly in search, might think it is invincible. According to Thompson, the fix might be a massive leadership shakeup, including having the Google CEO step down.

“That means, first and foremost, excising the company of employees attracted to Google’s power and its potential to help them execute their political program, and return decision-making to those who actually want to make a good product,” said Thompson. “That, by extension, must mean removing those who let the former run amok, up to and including CEO Sundar Pichai.”

Satya Nadella came into his post as CEO of Microsoft at a time when the company needed to reposition itself. A leader such as Nadella is what Google needs, according to Thompson. For that to happen, Google’s current CEO Pichai might need to step down.

Why are people calling for Google’s CEO to step down?

Google, like many tech companies right now, is struggling. However, compared to the rest of the industry, Pichai’s leadership has been specifically called into question. That’s because, at a time when layoffs are perpetual, Pichai hasn’t done a great job at steadying the ship. In fact, when Google employees expressed concern about layoffs earlier this year, the CEO only told them to expect more.

But perhaps Google’s biggest mistake of late was how it handled image generation in Gemini, the company’s AI chatbot. Due to the predisposition for bias that comes with using AI, Google decided to overcompensate. Whenever it was asked to generate a person, Gemini actively created people of color. That led to situations where Gemini was consistently generating multicultural Nazi soldiers, among others.

Google was forced to apologize and suspend image generation in Gemini indefinitely. It’s the latest misstep for Google, with Pichai at the helm. That’s why we’re starting to see calls for the Google CEO to step down.