Sam Sebastian announced his departure from Google Canada just this week, and he’s already planning his first few steps as president and CEO of Pelmorex Corp., a position he starts on Sept. 5.
The former vice president and managing director of Google Canada says he is excited for the new opportunity, and that there is no reason on the Google side for his move.
“I’m leaving Google for a fantastic new opportunity with a historical and strong Canadian brand – this is no reflection on Google. It’s a great multinational company that I’ve had the pleasure of being with for 11-plus years, but working for a guy I trust in Pierre [Morrissette, founder and controlling shareholder of Pelmorex] and having the chance to run such a great Canadian company was just too good of an opportunity to pass up,” Sebastian tells IT World Canada.
Looking forward, he plans to continue the momentum Pelmorex, owner of The Weather Network and other weather information websites and applications, has garnered over the last few years by working on improving its database and potentially introducing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
“The company is strong already so I don’t have a big mandate where I need to change a bunch of things. The Weather Network has a couple big databases with all the weather information it collects, as well as user profiles, so I think I can help with the future of the company’s data business, and maybe even integrate some AI into it so that it’s more efficient,” he explains.
CDN’s 18th top newsmaker of 2016 points to the virtual assistant devices Google and Amazon have been developing and marketing as a trend he believes Pelmorex should jump on.
“The newest trend is towards assistant-type products and I think the nature of search will slowly move from typing and text-based to voice as a result, so we’re going to continue building around that. The Weather Network has been really good at being out in front of disruption, and I don’t expect it to be any different now that I’m at the helm,” he says.
Sebastian’s role at Google included overseeing all aspects of its operations in Canada, including overseeing the expansion of it’s engineering hub in Kitchener, Ont., and worked towards building the company’s AI technology.
He believes the relationships he formed at Google, as well as his experience in advertising, building great products, and working with development teams, will translate well to his new position.
“I understand this ecosystem very well, and all of my skills will translate. Culture is also extremely important to me, so I’m going to make sure we have a fun and agile culture to attract and retain smart people,” he adds.
Until then, Sebastian says he will continue to work around the clock talking to partners and customers and just generally preparing for his departure at Google, which includes helping the tech giant find his successor.
“I’ll probably take a week off to spend time with my family in between, but then it’s right back to work,” he laughs.