Wojcicki is leaving to spend more time with her family and focus on her health and personal projects, according to a letter she sent to employees that was posted on YouTube’s corporate blog. She will be replaced by Neal Mohan, YouTube’s head of product, who first came to Google through the company’s acquisition of advertising tech platform DoubleClick in 2008.
Her departure is a major changing of the guard for Google. Wojcicki was seen by many Google employees as more or less a member of Brin and Page’s family, given her long relationship with them and status as one of the company’s founding employees. Her name was floated by some as a potential future CEO of all of Google, given her ties to Brin and Page and long tenure.
Wojcicki was also one of the most prominent women in the tech industry. With Mohan taking over, the CEOs of all the major social media and entertainment platforms — Twitter, Facebook, Snap, Netflix, Disney and YouTube — are now all men.
Wojiciki’s departure follows a string of other high-profile leaders who have left big technology companies at a time when the industry is struggling to diversify its workforce. Earlier this week, Meta Chief Business Officer Marne Levine announced she would be leaving after 13 years at the company. Last year, former Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg announced she was stepping down after a 14-year stint at the social media giant.
Wojcicki oversaw tremendous growth, taking YouTube from around a billion users to the over 2 billion people who use it monthly today. During that time, the unit was one of Google’s most important revenue growth drivers, going from $3.6 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2018, when the company first broke out YouTube’s financial numbers, to nearly $8 billion in the fourth quarter of 2022.
But Wojcicki had her critics, too. Wall Street analysts sometimes pointed out that YouTube’s revenue per user was significantly lower than competitors like Facebook. YouTube has also faced years of criticism for how it deals with hate speech, misinformation and conspiracy theories on its platform. In the lead-up to the pandemic, anti-vaccine influencers had grown popular on the platform, and the site had become a key part of the ecosystem of vaccine skeptics that exploded when covid-19 began spreading around the world.
Wojcicki also made the decision, along with Google CEO Sundar Pichai, to ban Trump from the site following the Jan. 6 attacks. When Facebook said earlier this year it would rescind its ban on Trump, the focus swung to whether YouTube would do the same. YouTube’s ban remains, for now.
Naomi Nix contributed to this report.