Who is Neal Mohan, the Indian-American taking over the role of YouTube chief?


Desis rule the tech world. After Google, Microsoft, and IBM, now YouTube has an Indian-American top boss. Neal Mohan is the new CEO of the world’s largest video platform. He will replace Susan Wojcicki who is stepping down after leading the company for nine years.

Wojcicki’s departure marks the end of the era for YouTube. She joined the firm in 2014 before which she worked with Google (now Alphabet) for 25 years. She was among its earliest employees. Now Wojcicki, 54, said she will focus on “family, health, and personal projects” she is passionate about.

Mohan is a longtime confidant of Wojcicki. As YouTube’s chief product officer, he was responsible for the platform’s products, user experience, and trust and safety initiatives.

After the announcement, Mohan said that he was excited to continue this “awesome and important mission” and looking forward to a new future. “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…” he wrote on Twitter.

Neal Mohan’s time at Stanford

Mohan, 49, is a Stanford alumnus. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. He later pursued an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. The Indian-American was an Arjay Miller Scholar, an award given to the top 10 per cent of the class who have received the highest grade point averages (GPA), according to a report in moneycontrol.

Also read: The Indian-American paradox: Indians expect them to be Indians, but they are not

Foray into the tech world

He started his career at Accenture in 1996 and then went on to join a startup, NetGravity, which was acquired by online advertising firm DoubleClick in 2002.

He took time out to pursue the two-year MBA course between 2003 and 2005 and then worked at Microsoft briefly as manager of corporate strategy. He joined DoubleClick and played a crucial role in the company’s $3.1 billion sale on Google in April 2007.

Neal Mohan has launched some of YouTube's biggest products including its subscription service, music service, children's app, and YouTube Shorts. AFP

The Google stint

At Google, Mohan worked closely with Wojcicki, who is the key architect of the tech firm’s online advertising business.

Mohan led the display and video advertising business of the form. He played a big role in advancing its advertising product offerings like AdWords, AdSense, AdMob and the DoubleClick tech ad products from 2008 to 2015. He also built solutions for advertisers and media partners that enabled the growth of the consumer internet, mobile app ecosystem and online media industry, reports moneycontrol.

He was also responsible for startup acquisitions like Invite Media, Admeld, and Teracent which furthered Google’s advertising offerings.

Susan Wojcicki announced on Thursday that she is stepping down as CEO at YouTube after spending nine years as the head of the social media platform. AP

Working at YouTube

When Wojcicki took over YouTube in 2014, Mohan, who had been her top deputy for years, also made the move. He has been serving as the chief product officer of the video company since 2015. He believes YouTube is “the default video hosting platform for the entire internet”.

He was behind the launch of YouTube’s big products like its subscription service which is now known as YouTube Premium, music streaming service YouTube Music, children’s app YouTube Kids, live streaming service YouTube TV and popular short-form video service YouTube Shorts to take on TikTok. According to Mohan, Shorts, which was launched in 2020, connects to YouTube’s earliest days as a way to quickly share personal videos.

He is credited with YouTube’s apps for mobile, desktop, and television, and tools for media partners, content creators, musicians, governments, and consumer brands.

According to the moneycontrol report, Mohan lead the video platform’s trust and safety team that oversaw the creation and enforcement of its policies and community guidelines governing the content available on the platform.

Also read: Indian CEOs in top global firms: Diversities of largest democracy help in building leadership qualities

In a 2021 interview with The Verge, when asked what does he do as product head all day at YouTube, Mohan said, “My responsibility is really to help run YouTube. I’m responsible for all of our products, everything that you use as a viewer of YouTube, everything our creators use… from the main app to the Kids app to the Music app.”

“And I’m also responsible for our trust and safety organisation, so everything that has to do with our content policies, what governs the type of content that we allow on our platform, the content that we take down,” he added.

Mohan said in an interview that YouTube was the default video hosting platform for the entire internet. AFP

Other roles

Mohan sits on the board of Stitch Fix and genomics and biotechnology company 23andMe, co-founded by Anne Wojcicki, the sister of Susan Wojcicki and the former wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

According to TechCrunch, in 2011, Twitter offered a role to Mohan along with a stock grant of $100 million which he turned down. Even Dropbox, the file storage, company has tried to hire him to lead their product vertical.

With inputs from agencies

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Who is Neal Mohan, the Indian-American taking over the role of YouTube chief?
Who is Neal Mohan, the Indian-American taking over the role of YouTube chief?
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