YouTube Engineering Chief & Google VP Venkat Panchapakesan Dies

Venkat Panchapakesan

It’s a setback for Google and all YouTube product family, who lost Venkat Panchapaksan, a Google VP who led engineering for social video sharing site YouTube, on Monday. Venkat died battling cancer.

Before joining Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) in 2010, Venkat served Yahoo for more than a decade. He worked at Yahoo! serving many important products and spent time leading research and development center (RDC) in India from 1998 to 2009. After leaving Yahoo! he joined the startup bandwagon by launching Grylock Partners. After serving as Entrepreneur in Residence there for less than a year, Venkat decided to join Google. In June last year, Google named him engineering head for YouTube, reporting directly to Susan Wojcicki, CEO – YouTube.

“Venkat was a deeply admired leader of our engineering team and we are extremely saddened by his passing,” Wojcicki said in a statement. “He was loved by the people who worked with him and will be missed by everyone who knew him. Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.”

Friends and colleague who are close to Venkat described him a warm, fun loving, giving and fiercely loyal.

Venkat started his career as Software Engineer in 1990 with Amdahl Corporation. In the next eight years, Venkat served for TeamOne and HP before joining Yahoo! as VP Engineering in 1998. He held three patents related to Search Scoring and Auction Redemption System.

In 2010 – the year Venkat Joined Google – Jeff Weiner, CEO – LinkedIn Corp, described him as one of the best engineering executives he has worked with.

Jeff wrote then “Venkat is one of the best engineering executives I’ve worked with. His technical expertise and significant consumer web experience combined with a natural ability to develop efficiently at scale, led to his overseeing some of the most valuable and effective product and engineering initiatives at Yahoo. He is as equally adept at architecting unique and innovative platforms as he is in developing the front-end applications that leverage those capabilities. Beyond his technical skills, Ven is also a proven engineering leader, with a keen eye for talent and a proven ability to get the most out of his teams.”

In February this year, Venkat wrote to Sharad Sharma, a former senior VP at Yahoo! India, describing his health and showing no signs of surrendering. Venkat wrote, “I am handling it with the same positive spirit that I do anything else.”

Remembering his former colleague, Sharad Sharma said his former colleague was “sharp yet humble,” with a demanding work ethic and “childlike zest.”

Venkat Panchapakesan is survived by his wife, Sandy and two children.

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