After 10 years at the Google helm, CEO Eric Schmidt said he will be handing over the chief executive role to co-founder Larry Page April 4. Schmidt will stay on as "executive chairman," chairman of the Google board of directors, and continue to make company decisions with both Page and co-founder Sergey Brin. He announced earlier today on the Official Google Blog:
Larry will now lead product development and technology strategy, his greatest strengths, and starting from April 4 he will take charge of our day-to-day operations as Google’s Chief Executive Officer. In this new role I know he will merge Google’s technology and business vision brilliantly. I am enormously proud of my last decade as CEO, and I am certain that the next 10 years under Larry will be even better! Larry, in my clear opinion, is ready to lead.
Sergey has decided to devote his time and energy to strategic projects, in particular working on new products. His title will be Co-Founder. He’s an innovator and entrepreneur to the core, and this role suits him perfectly.
"There is no other CEO in the world that could have kept such headstrong founders so deeply involved and still run the business so brilliantly," Page said in an official statement. "Eric is a tremendous leader and I have learned innumerable lessons from him. His advice and efforts will be invaluable to me as I start in this new role."
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Schmidt said that changing titles was simply "to clarify our individual roles so there’s clear responsibility and accountability" and that the three would continue to make decisions together. So why bother to change titles at all?
The repeated emphasis that all three will be making decisions, and that no one is leaving the company, is lip-service to keep the stock prices from wildly fluctuating and investors happy.
While Obama has a relationship with Schmidt, it would be interesting to see Obama giving him a post when he's been vilified as an opponent of Internet privacy and made a creepy caricature by consumer advocates because Google inadvertently collected information on users.
His cavalier statement to CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place," also didn't help matters. (Schmidt may also be a hypocrite, since the blog of his alleged mistress, which was on Google's Blogger, was taken down immediately, according to Valleywag.)
It's likely, as VentureBeat reported, that Page is eager to get back into the CEO saddle again. It's also just as likely that although they respect one another, both Page and Brin feel that Google is their company and it's up to them to create its vision for the coming years -- not a hired gun. It will also be easier to maintain the Google mantra of "Don't be evil," when one of the company's founders is in charge.