Friday, February 5, 2016

Google Search main guy, Amit Singhal's, farewell letter talks about giving back to others

Last updated on 6th Feb. 2016

[Note: I felt that the "give back to others" part of this letter made it appropriate for me to put it up on this spiritual blog instead of my miscellaneous blog or my Indian CS & IT Academic Reform blog.]

Amitabh Kumar "Amit" Singhal (born 1968/9) is senior vice president and software engineer at Google Inc., a Google Fellow, and the head of Google's core ranking team.
--- end wiki extract ---

The farewell letter of Amit Singhal is given below.


The Journey Continues…

Dear Friends,

My life has been a dream journey. From a little boy growing up in the Himalayas dreaming of the Star Trek computer, to an immigrant who came to the United States with two suitcases and not much else, to the person responsible for Search at Google, every turn has enriched me and made me a better person.

As I entered the fifteenth year of working at Google, I've been asking myself the question, "what would you want to do for the next fifteen?" The answer has overwhelmingly been: give back to others. It has always been a priority for me to give back to people who are less fortunate, and make time for my family amidst competing work constraints--but on both fronts, I simply want to give and do more.

Now is a good time to make this important life change. Things are in amazing shape. Search is stronger than ever, and will only get better in the hands of an outstanding set of senior leaders who are already running the show day-to-day.

It fills me with pride to see what we have built in the last fifteen years. Search has transformed people’s lives; over a billion people rely on us. Our mission of empowering people with information and the impact it has had on this world cannot be overstated. When I started, who would have imagined that in a short period of fifteen years, we would tap a button, ask Google anything and get the answer. Today, it has become second nature to us. My dream Star Trek computer is becoming a reality, and it is far better than what I ever imagined.

I love Google. It is a company that believes in doing the right thing, a company that believes in doing good in the world, a company… that cares. I look back at my time here with a profound sense of gratitude that I was a part of building this. Now, with pride, gratitude, and joy in my heart, I need to define my next fifteen years. I am eager to see what kind of impact I can make philanthropically, and of course, to spend more time with my family--especially with my wife who I miss spending time with given our incredibly busy lives, and our son who will go to college soon, leaving an empty nest behind.

Feb 26 will be my last day at Google. My relationships are the most important thing I’ve accumulated in life and I’d love for that to continue. Please do drop me a line occasionally and we can have a cup of tea.

As Chief Si’ahl said “Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints!” I am taking so many fond memories with me, and hopefully I’ve left a small footprint here.

With Love,

---end Amit Singhal Farewell letter ---

Ravi: I added the following comment on his Google+ post:

Thanks a million for the wonderful & extremely helpful for locating web based information sources, Google Search engine available free of charge for users, which you have played an important part in. I wish you all the best for your future plans, especially the part about giving back to others.

I would also like to thank Google Search team including you, sir, for all the help that I have got from Google Search in my current work of reading up on spirituality and religion, and being a blogger on the same topic. As I am a devotee of Sri Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi, India, I have found Google search to be an invaluable tool for me to look up quotes from discourses or writings of his which are put up on the Internet, on a variety of topics/questions. In pre-Internet-search-engine days, this activity would have been extraordinarily cumbersome given the HUGE VOLUME of discourses and writings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Thanks a million guys, and may God bless the Google Search team.

BTW I have put up the contents of your farewell letter on my blog post here:, presuming that you would not mind it being put up. If you do have any objections, please let me know (say, by putting up a comment on the post). Thanks.
--- end my comment on Amit Singhal's Google+ post ---

A correspondent responded to above post sent over mail (and was OK with public sharing) (slightly edited):

Amit Singhal is a CS Cornell PhD graduate. His advisor was Gerry Salton, who worked on information retrieval for 30 years and whose research was the absolute backbone for search engines when they started in about 95-96. [Cornell] had put Salton up for the ACM Turing Award and were sure he would get it because of the monumental significance of his work, but he died of cancer during the deliberations, and the Turing Award is not given to people who are no longer with us.

Amit Singhal finished under another advisor, Claire Cardi, a great researcher in her own right.

Amit went off to work at Bell Labs after his PhD. While there, he saw what Google was doing with their search engines. He wrote the Google people that they were doing it all wrong and he knew how to do it right —based on Gerry Salton’s research.

Google gave him a job and an office and several people to work with him, and the rest is history. Because of what he was able to accomplish, he was raised to the position of VP for research (or something like that).

Now, he is retiring because he wants to give back to society and the world. Remarkable.

You can see interviews with CS Cornellians here:

At some point in the near future, Amit will come to Cornell ... When he comes, [Cornell Prof. may] interview the great man, Amit Singhal, about the old days as well as about his retirement and how he wants to give back to the world.
--- end correspondent response ---

[I thank Amit Singhal and Wikipedia, and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above contents of his post, on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]


  1. Sai Ram and Thanks Brother. Have you read Googled by Ken Auletta? It is really an amazing book. If you haven't read the book I would suggest you to go through it. The book is about Google. Auletta's non-fiction book is written in a very impressive style. Book is actually a result of interviews taken by him of great public figures both within and outside the Google. Through his flawless narrative we are introduced to the key players affiliated with the Google Search Engine and its progressive growth. And the best part about the book is the narrative which goes in a way that one who reads with 100 percent concentration is able to visualize the scenes. By the time we complete the reading we feel blessed to witness the unimpeded growth of Google and also benefit so much from it. The best example is communication and sharing of information. Like the way we are communicating using Google product - Blogger. Google+ for sure is a great product. The book also throws light on the personal and family life of the co-founders of Google - Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

    With regards,

    Sai Aanchal

    Sai Ram :)

    1. Thanks for the comment, Sai Aanchal. No, I have not read the book you mentioned. Am too squeezed for time right now to read it. Maybe later sometime. ... BTW the blog post (above) has an update with an interesting response from an email correspondent.

    2. Thank you very much and Sai Ram:)