SAN FRANCISCO – Google Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette plans to retire after helping the Internet search leader find and train his replacement within the next six months.
The impending change, disclosed in a regulatory filing Tuesday, is the latest in a flurry of CFO transitions in the technology industry. Apple Inc., Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. have already replaced their CFOs or announced plans to so in the past year.
Pichette, 52, was more than just the executive in charge of Google’s books and its $64 billion cash hoard — money that Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt joked Pichette kept in a backpack that he toted around the company’s headquarters.
Pichette also had been the executive primarily responsible explaining Google Inc.’s business strategy and management philosophy to investors during quarterly earnings conference calls after CEO Larry Page decided he no longer wanted to handle that chore in 2013.
Shortly after he was hired in August 2008, Pichette quickly earned Wall Street’s respect by reining in Google’s free-spending ways during the Great Recession — a devastating downturn that even forced the Internet’s most profitable company to cut costs. More recently, though, Pichette has had to continually explain why the Mountain View, California, company feels justified spending on billions of dollars on experimental projects ranging from driverless cars to Internet-beaming balloons that may take years to pay off, if ever.
Investors’ frustration with Google’s expensive investments on technology that have little or nothing do with the company’s main business of Internet search and advertising is a major reason why its stock is hovering around $560, the same level as it where it stood at the end of 2013. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index has climbed by 11 per cent during the same stretch.
Pichette, an avid bicyclist and backpacker, decided to retire at a still relatively young age so he can spend more time wandering the world with his wife, Tamar, according to an explanation posted on his Google Plus page.
As the couple prepares to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary this summer, Pichette said he wants to “enjoy a perfectly fine mid-life crisis full of bliss and beauty, and leave the door open to serendipity for our next leadership opportunities, once our long list of travels and adventures is exhausted.”
Pichette can easily afford an early retirement. He reaped nearly $31 million in gains from his Google stock incentives from 2010 through 2013, according to regulatory filings, to supplement the additional millions that he has made from his salary and bonuses during his tenure at the company.