Quite the find

New Google president Ruth Porat has Israeli roots

Porat’s father immigrated to Mandatory Palestine from Ukraine and fought in Independence War; her mother was born en route and grew up in pre-state Israel

File: Ruth Porat speaks onstage during the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center Groundbreaking Ceremony in New York City, on June 24, 2022. (Monica Schipper/Getty Images via AFP)
File: Ruth Porat speaks onstage during the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center Groundbreaking Ceremony in New York City, on June 24, 2022. (Monica Schipper/Getty Images via AFP)

Ruth Porat, CFO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, will take on the newly created role of president and chief investment officer, the company announced Tuesday.

When she takes on her new role as Alphabet’s president, Porat will oversee the Other Bets division, which includes self-driving car pioneer Waymo as part of a commitment to “drive financial discipline and returns for shareholders, while spearheading investment to create sustainable, long-term value,” Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said in a statement.

Porat will also act as a liaison between Google and policymakers, and play a regulatory role in the company.

Alphabet will seek a new CFO to take over a job that Porat, a former investment banker, has handled for the past eight years — the longest time a person has ever served in the position.

Porat’s family’s journey to Northern California, where Google is based, involved some of the key events of 20th-century Jewish history: the Holocaust and the founding of the State of Israel.

Porat’s father, Dan, was born in 1922 in what is now Ukraine. He later moved with his family to a shtetl — a small Jewish village — in the Carpathian Mountains and then to Vienna, where they lived when the Anschluss of 1938 brought the Nazis to power.

File: First Lady Michal Herzog, center, with Ruth Porat, (right) Alphabet and Google CFO, at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem for a Google workshop on female empowerment, February 20, 2022. (GPO)

He was able to escape, but the rest of his family was killed in the Holocaust. Dan eventually arrived at a kibbutz in British Mandate Palestine and volunteered to fight for the British army during World War II.

Ruth Porat’s mother, Frieda, was born during her family’s voyage to Palestine. She and Dan married in 1946, and he fought in Israel’s War of Independence. In 1954 they moved to England, where Ruth was born, so Dan could pursue his graduate studies in physics. Unwilling to live in England as a non-citizen, and fearing that Israel was too dangerous for his family, Dan obtained a joint appointment at Harvard and MIT and moved the family to Boston when Ruth was two years old.

However, the weather did not agree with Frieda.

“Frieda wanted to move back to Israel because she could not physically tolerate the New England climate,” Dan Porat wrote in his memoir. “I saw her suffer in the cold she was not used to and promised to bring her to a climate close to that of Israel.”

In 1962, the Porats moved to Portola Valley, California, and Dan Porat went to work for the physics design team at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. Frieda, in turn, pursued a career as a psychologist and organizational consultant, founding the Center for Creativity and Growth and writing several books, including “Creative Procrastination,” “Creative Life Management” and “Creative Retirement.” She died in 2012.

Ruth Porat attended Stanford University as an undergraduate, as did her two siblings, and currently serves as the vice-chair of the university’s board of trustees. She worked at Morgan Stanley starting in 1987 and during the 1990s she was co-head of the firm’s technology investment banking group. A major Democratic donor, she was considered a potential candidate for deputy Treasury secretary in 2013, but she withdrew her name from consideration.

In 2014, Porat and her husband, Anthony Paduano, established a post-doctoral fellowship in her father’s name for the study of physics at Stanford, honoring his dogged and ultimately successful efforts over the years to complete his education, even taking correspondence courses while he served in the British army during World War II.

In 2016, she declared her support for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. According to the Politico news site, Porat served as a liaison between the Clinton campaign and Silicon Valley.

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