Why CFO Patrick Pichette is Leaving Google

Pichette says he wants to "enjoy a perfectly fine midlife crisis full of bliss and beauty" — after Google finds a new CFO.
Katie Kuehner-HebertMarch 11, 2015
Why CFO Patrick Pichette is Leaving Google

Most people don’t believe a 50-something exec when they say they are retiring to spend more time with their family.

But Google chief financial officer Patrick Pichette, 52, really wants people to believe that’s why he’s leaving the Mountain View, Calif. after nearly seven years in that position – by posting a 869-word explanation saying so on Google+ Tuesday.

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Pichette wrote that he owes the idea to retire early to his wife, Tamar, who last September got very excited about globetrotting after the couple hiked all night to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro.

“And Tamar out of the blue said’ ‘Hey, why don’t we just keep on going?’” he wrote. “Let’s explore Africa, and then turn east to make our way to India, it’s just next door, and we’re here already. Then, we keep going; the Himalayas, Everest, go to Bali, the Great Barrier Reef … Antarctica, let’s go see Antarctica!?’ Little did she know, she was tempting fate.”

Patrick Pichette

Patrick Pichette

Pichette then gave his wife “a typical prudent CFO-type response” about still having obligations, not to mention career desires.

“But then she asked the killer question: ‘So when is it going to be time? Our time? My time?’ The questions just hung there in the cold morning African air.”

That led to major introspection about when it was time to call it quits, particularly now that their kids were grown and out of the house, they could finally spend some quality time with each other.

Now they’re going to have plenty and plenty of time with each other:

“I could not find a good argument to tell Tamar we should wait any longer for us to grab our backpacks and hit the road — celebrate our last 25 years together by turning the page and enjoy a perfectly fine midlife 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 emphasized he would remain at Google until the company has found “a new Googley CFO” that he would help through an orderly transition, which will take some time.

“In the end, life is wonderful, but nonetheless a series of trade offs, especially between business/professional endeavors and family/community,” Pichette wrote. “And thankfully, I feel I’m at a point in my life where I no longer have to have to make such tough choices anymore. And for that I am truly grateful. Carpe Diem.”

A CNN Money article Wednesday said that Pichette likely has the wherewithal to retire early, even if he and his wife do gallivant around the world. However, he is “leaving money on the table.”

“He has more than 60,000 stock options that will not vest until next year, worth about $14 million if he could cash them today,” CNN Money wrote. “He also may lose stock awards worth about $16.8 million at current prices. His base salary and cash bonus in 2013 and 2012 were about $3.5 million a year. His blog post does not discuss any of these financial considerations.”

However, over the years Pichette has regularly appeared in the list of highest-paid U.S. finance chiefs. In 2012 he was third highest, with $38.7 million in total pay.

Photo: Patrick Pichette, Google+