On 16 February 2023, Indian-American Neal Mohan was named as the successor of Susan Wojcicki as the chief executive officer (CEO) of Google-owned YouTube. Wojcicki stepped down from the position after nine years at the helm of the video-sharing platform.
With his elevation to the top post, Mohan has now joined an elite list of Indian-origin CEOs of major global companies, among whom are Laxman Narasimhan of Starbucks, Leena Nair of Chanel, Satya Nadella of Microsoft and Sundar Pichai of both Alphabet and Google.
Susan Wojcicki introduces Neal Mohan as the next head of YouTube
Wojcicki was instrumental in Google’s growth. It was in a garage in the home of her parents where Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin started the search engine platform. Wojcicki was one of the earliest employees at Google, having joined the company in 1999.
Announcing her decision to step down as YouTube CEO, Wojcicki shared an email on 16 February with the company’s employees writing, “Today, after nearly 25 years here, I’ve decided to step back from my role as the head of YouTube and start a new chapter focused on my family, health, and personal projects I’m passionate about.”
She said that she has agreed with Pichai on taking on an advisory role across Google and Alphabet.
Through her email, she also introduced Neal Mohan as the new head and senior vice president (SVP) of YouTube.
“When I joined YouTube nine years ago, one of my first priorities was bringing in an incredible leadership team. Neal Mohan was one of those leaders, and he’ll be the SVP and new head of YouTube,” she wrote.
“He has a wonderful sense for our product, our business, our creator and user communities, and our employees. Neal will be a terrific leader for YouTube,” added Wojcicki.
Mohan thanked the outgoing YouTube CEO in a tweet.
Thank you, @SusanWojcicki. It’s been amazing to work with you over the years. You’ve built YouTube into an extraordinary home for creators and viewers. I’m excited to continue this awesome and important mission. Looking forward to what lies ahead… https://t.co/Rg5jXv1NGb
— Neal Mohan (@nealmohan) February 16, 2023
Neal Mohan: Early life, career and other things to know
Where did Neal Mohan receive his education?
Various reports suggest that Mohan graduated with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1996.
According to his LinkedIn profile, he also earned an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business in 2005. Reports say that he was an Arjay Miller Scholar at the business school.
“This award, named after former Dean Arjay Miller, recognizes the academically highest 10 percent of the graduating MBA class,” reads a description of the award on the Stanford University Graduate School of Business website.
Neal Mohan’s career: From Accenture to Google
Mohan started his career as a senior analyst at Accenture in 1996. At the time, the company was known as Andersen Consulting. His LinkedIn profile indicates that he worked at the company for just over a year.
According to reports, he then joined online advertiser NetGravity. Richard Frankel, his then-boss, told Business Insider in 2013 that Mohan “helped customers figure out how to better use our technology. That turned into a lot more business for NetGravity.”
The company was acquired by its rival, DoubleClick, in 2002 for around USD 530 million. Mohan, thus, became part of DoubleClick and left California for New York to join it. After helping in the reorganisation of the company’s 500-person technology sales and services group, he left as the vice president of Business Operations in 2003.
Mohan then focused on completing his MBA and had a stint at Microsoft. And when DoubleClick CEO David Rosenblatt urged him to return to the company, Mohan joined it in 2005 on the condition that he will work from California. By that time, DoubleClick had been bought by an equity company for just about USD 1.1 billion.
He was made the company’s senior vice president (SVP) of Strategy and Product Management. In that role, he created a plan with Rosenblatt to transform DoubleClick’s business. That worked so well that DoubleClick, which was struggling before Mohan came in, was acquired within 18 months by Google for USD 3.1 billion in April 2007.
Following the acquisition, Mohan started working with Wojcicki, which the latter underlined in her email.
In March 2008, Mohan was made the SVP of display and video ads at Google.
Mohan was instrumental in Google Ads’ growth
Google AdSense is one of the world’s most successful advertising platforms, and Mohan had a key role to play in it.
He was responsible for the company’s advertising offerings on YouTube, the Google Display Network, AdSense, AdMob and the DoubleClick family of programmatic ad platform products. Mohan transformed how website owners earn revenue from Google ads through the programme, based on impressions and clicks.
He helped find solutions for everyone — from media partners to advertisers — which not only solidified Google’s position in the business of ads but also fuelled the rise of the online media industry as a whole.
The strategy he built at DoubleClick was so perfect that it helped him at Google as well. In fact, at the time, other major tech companies, such as Microsoft and Yahoo, failed in replicating the success Google had with its acquisition of DoubleClick.
In 2011, Google’s display advertising gross revenues touched USD 5 billion, and they continued to rise rapidly over the years.
Mohan displayed a knack for getting the right acquisitions for Google to expand its ad business. During his tenure, he led Google’s acquisitions of Admeld, Teracent and Invite Media — all of which brought in unique tools that benefited Google’s ad business.
“I would argue startups invented each little pocket of that whole thing, but Neal is the puppetmaster. He’s the guy who got the resources and pulled everything together,” Nat Turner, the CEO of Invite Media, told Business Insider in 2013.
Mohan at YouTube
When Wojcicki took over as CEO of YouTube in 2014, she tipped Mohan as her lieutenant. In November 2015, Mohan was appointed chief product officer (CPO) at YouTube.
At YouTube, Mohan was responsible for user experience and products on all YouTube platforms.
In her email, Wojcicki revealed how Mohan helped in YouTube’s phenomenal growth as its CPO.
“He has set up a top-notch product and UX team, played pivotal roles in the launch of some of our biggest products, including YouTube TV, YouTube Music and Premium and Shorts, and has led our Trust and Safety team, ensuring that YouTube lives up to its responsibility as a global platform,” wrote Wojcicki.
Other roles that Mohan has assumed over the years
Mohan has served on the board of MMA Global and Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). He has been a Member of the Management Board at his business school for four years from — 2013 to 2017.
Besides his role as YouTube CEO, he currently is on the boards of biotech company 23andMe and online personal styling service Stitch Fix. He is also a member of the Council of Foreign Relations.
What is Neal Mohan’s salary and net worth?
When Mohan joined NetGravity, his salary was just USD 60,000 per year. However, his remuneration at DoubleClick has not been clearly reported by the media.
In 2011, Twitter, which is now one of the companies owned by Elon Musk, was looking for a CPO. Rosenblatt, who was then on Twitter’s board, wanted to hire Mohan, and Twitter made an offer.
However, according to a TechCrunch report from the time, Google paid USD 100 million in stocks to Mohan to retain him. Interestingly, Twitter had also made a similar offer to Pichai at the same time. Google paid USD 50 million to keep Pichai from leaving.
Google’s phenomenal growth in the last decade means that the stocks held by the new YouTube CEO are worth much more today.
To illustrate, a 2019 CNBC report says that USD 1,000 invested in Google in 2009 was worth USD 4,800 in 2019 — a jump of 400 percent. So, Mohan is certainly a multi-millionaire based on the current value of his 2011 stocks alone.
(Main and Featured images: Neal Mohan/@nealmohan/Twitter)
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Singapore.