Google taps Morgan Stanley exec for CFO post

Ruth Porat, a Silicon Valley native, will head west from the marquee Wall Street firm, where she had a hand in a number of technology ventures.

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3 min read

Ruth Porat, who will join Google as CFO in May, is known as one of the most powerful women on Wall Street. Getty Images

Google has turned to Wall Street to find its new chief financial officer.

Ruth Porat, who has been serving as CFO of investment bank Morgan Stanley, will take over as Google's finance chief starting May 26, the search giant announced Tuesday. In her new post, Porat will report directly to Google CEO and co-founder Larry Page.

The announcement comes just two weeks after Google issued a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission saying that its current CFO, Patrick Pichette, is retiring. Pichette, who began working at Google in 2008, said that he wanted to spend more time with his family and go backpacking with his wife. He said he would remain with the company to find his replacement.

The change comes as Google increasingly invests in more areas outside its dominant search and advertising business. The company has in the last several years made experimental bets in out-there projects like driverless cars and Wi-Fi-beaming balloons, as Google looks to where future revenue streams might come from.

Pichette was seen as a counterbalance to Google co-founders Larry Page, who is also CEO, and Sergey Brin, as the company develops its sometimes expensive experimental projects. Porat is expected to bring a similar level of discipline.

"You have two founders who have big ambitions and don't mind spending money," said Sameet Sinha, an analyst with the investment firm B. Riley and Co. "If you look at Morgan Stanley, on a regular basis, they are very cost-conscious."

Porat joined Morgan Stanley in 1987 and held several major jobs at the company, including vice chairman of investment banking and co-head of technology investment banking. She is a graduate of Stanford and has an MBA from the Wharton School. She also serves on Stanford's board of trustees.

Even though Porat is known as one of the most powerful women on Wall Street, she's no stranger to the tech industry. While at Morgan Stanley, Porat served as the lead banker on financing rounds for tech sector notables including Amazon, eBay and Netscape, Google said.

Google's CFO shakeup is just the latest in a series of executive changes at the company. In October, Page said that he would focus on his company's future, rather than day-to-day operations. In tandem with that announcement, Sundar Pichai, who had been running Android's mobile software business and is considered a rising star in Mountain View, was elevated to oversee all Google products.

"I'm delighted to be returning to my California roots and joining Google," Porat said in a statement Tuesday. "Growing up in Silicon Valley, during my time at Morgan Stanley and as a member of Stanford's Board, I've had the opportunity to experience first hand how tech companies can help people in their daily lives."

Page said that Google is "tremendously fortunate" to have Porat coming aboard. He said the company will continue to invest in its core businesses, like search, ads and its Android mobile operating system. But it will also continue to make experimental bets in a "thoughtful, disciplined way."

Google declined to provide additional comment on the announcement.

Updated, 11:45 p.m. PT: Adds analyst quote and information throughout.