According to an extensive profile piece from BuzzFeed’s Mat Honan this morning, Google’s now-CEO Sundar Pichai announced Google Cardboard having not even seen the final product. The piece details how Clay Bavor, Google’s VP of VR, first showed Pichai the project just 8 weeks before I/O, and Pichai was so impressed that he wanted to give the virtual reality viewer a full debut at the company’s developer conference…
Upon seeing the project, Bavor says that Pichai told him, “OK, Clay, run,” and the pair didn’t see each other for a solid eight and a half weeks. Obviously, for a product that wasn’t yet finished, that’s not much time. The team made it, though, and originally planned to place a Cardboard unit in all I/O attendees’ bags. Pichai apparently changed his mind about that at the very last second, though, and wanted to announce the project on stage and hand them out as attendees left the keynote.
As it turned out, he didn’t even see the final version of the product before going on stage to debut it.
Bavor and the operations team spent the night pulling 10,000 Cardboard viewers out of gift bags over the next 11 hours so they could be handed out to attendees as they left the keynote.
“He stood up onstage and announced this product” — as Bavor tells the story he grins and bounces in his chair a bit — “and he had not even seen the final version of it, or the final version of the software. Here, again, was this deep implicit trust.” (Sure. But it was also a capricious move that kept people up all night pulling cardboard out of tote bags.)
The rest of the profile is worth a read.