Google Hires Eli Lilly Veteran for CFO Role as it Embraces Shift Towards AI


As (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) moves towards including AI technology into its services, its parent company, Alphabet, is bringing in a new CFO.

Anat Ashkenazi, who has been with the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) for 23 years, will become the new Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President of Google and Alphabet at the end of next month, according to an announcement made by the tech company on Wednesday.

This transition is happening at an important time for Google. The company, which is worth over two trillion dollars, is very focused on using the excitement and capabilities of generative AI. It is putting a lot of money into data centers and infrastructure, and it is updating its key products to make sure it is a leader in the growing AI market. Google is known for being the best at digital advertising, and it wants to be the leader in the next era of computing.

Ashkenazi’s time at Eli Lilly was marked by a lot of growth. The company’s share price has gone up by almost 700% in the last five years. Some of Eli Lilly’s recent new products include Mounjaro and Zepbound, which are drugs that are becoming more popular because they can lower blood sugar and help people lose weight.

Ruth Porat, who has been Google’s CFO since 2015, was promoted to President and Chief Investment Officer last year. She is now in charge of investments in Other Bets, as well as regulatory and international expansion matters.

Google’s shares went up by 0.9% on Wednesday after the announcement was made.

This year has seen a lot of competition to make new software that is based on large language models. This comes after a time of uncertainty and changes for Google and other big tech companies.

During the pandemic, investors put a lot of money into tech companies. But as the economy started to open up again, inflation went up to record highs. The Federal Reserve’s actions to tighten things up hurt the tech sector at first, leading to widespread layoffs and big financial problems.

However, the excitement about AI’s potential has brought new life to the tech industry, giving Ashkenazi both big opportunities and big challenges.

Google was first seen as falling behind after OpenAI’s ChatGPT came out, but it has since come out with a lot of AI services for businesses and consumers. However, there have been some setbacks.

Some of Google’s newest AI features didn’t work well, which led to criticism and gave competitors an advantage. For example, at a big event last year, Google’s chatbot Bard gave wrong information about a NASA space telescope, which caused the company to lose $100 billion in market value. More recently, users of Bard’s successor, Gemini, have said that it shows historical figures in inaccurate or unexpected ways. Last month, Google’s new AI Overviews search tool also gave wrong or silly answers to some questions.

A big challenge for Ashkenazi will be finding ways to make money from these AI tools while also protecting Google’s core search business, which could be at risk as more people use AI services.

Despite recent setbacks, many people think that Google is in a good position to benefit from the shift to AI. The company reported strong quarterly results in April and made shareholders happy with a new cash dividend and a big stock buyback program, which has helped its shares go up by more than 25% this year.