Google’s UK and Ireland MD, Matt Brittin, will be our cover profile next week so look out for it.
Google’s bumper fourth quarter financial results also delivered an unexpected bolt from the blue: after a decade in the role, Eric Schmidt is to step down as Google CEO.
The former Google front man will become executive chairman as co-founder Larry Page becomes CEO and the face of the company.
Google says the changes are in order to “streamline decision making and create clearer lines of responsibility at the top of the company”.
Page will now lead product development and technology strategy, co-founder Sergey Brin will also work on new products while Schmidt will now focus purely on deals and external outreach.
While the company used to be run equally with a triumvirate of Page, Brin and Schmidt, Google is very much Page’s company now.
Schmidt tweeted yesterday that “adult supervision is no longer needed” at Google, a message which alludes to the original reason he was brought on board in 2001 at the company with the unofficial slogan of “you can be serious without a suit”.
Schmidt was appointed to provide the company with the experience and business nouse Google’s founders were lacking, despite their technical wizardry.
But Schmidt came under fire from many international governments and the public about privacy, after Google’s Street View cars took not only pictures of homes but their private data too. Analysts argued Schmidt could have handled the situation better.
Page’s return to the CEO role indicates that he has had the time to mature enough to call the shots at the top, without “supervision”.
The picture Google posted on its official blog (above left) is symbolic of the new hierarchy: Page in the front seat of the car, Brin just behind with Schmidt outside on the pavement.
1996 Google created by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while studying at Stanford University
1998 Larry Page assume role of CEO
1999 Google begins selling ads associated with keywords
2001 Eric Schmidt joins and takes on CEO position
2004 Google goes public, offering 19,605,052 shares at a price of $85 per share
2006 Google buys YouTube for $1.65bn in stock
2011 Schmidt becomes executive chairman, Larry Page becomes CEO