Eric Schmidt stepping down as Alphabets executive chairman to become a ‘technical advisor’

October 22, 2018

A little late in the day news dump for you, ahead of the upcoming holiday. Longtime Google executive Eric Schmidt announced today that he’ll be stepping down from his role as the executive chairman of Alphabet’s board of directors.

Alphabet has confirmed the move with TechCrunch, offering up a statement from Schmidt.

“Larry, Sergey, Sundar and I all believe that the time is right in Alphabet’s evolution for this transition,” he said in the statement. “The Alphabet structure is working well, and Google and the Other Bets are thriving. In recent years, I’ve been spending a lot of my time on science and technology issues, and philanthropy, and I plan to expand that work.”

Schmidt joined up with Google in 2001, stepping into the role of CEO at the behest of founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, after stints at Sun Microsystems and Novell. Around the time of the company’s 2004 IPO, the trio reportedly pledged to work together for another 20 years.

Of course, Schmidt handed the baton to Page in 2011. Four years later, when Google restructured to form Alphabet, Page became its CEO, with Sundar Pichai stepping in to take over Google.

Alphabet’s not offering much insight into why a shift is taking place once again, but Page echoed Schmidt’s general positivity in the same statement. “Since 2001, Eric has provided us with business and engineering expertise and a clear vision about the future of technology. Continuing his 17 years of service to the company, he’ll now be helping us as a technical advisor on science and technology issues. I’m incredibly excited about the progress our companies are making, and about the strong leaders who are driving that innovation.”

Alphabet, meanwhile, is expected to appoint a new chairman at a meeting next month. The role will likely be a non-executive one. Schmidt meanwhile will remain on Alphabet’s board, stepping into what appears to be a less key role as “technical advisor.” No specifics on what shape that position will take, moving forward, though perhaps he’ll be able to stay on through 2024, after all. 

You can read the entirety of the statement over on Alphabet’s investor site.

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