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Eric Schmidt to quit as executive chairman of Alphabet, Google’s parent company

Eric Schmidt
Zach Gibson/Getty Images
He played a key role in Google’s success before becoming executive chairman of its parent company, Alphabet, but on Thursday, December 21, Eric Schmidt announced he’s stepping down.

Schmidt will leave his post as executive chairman of Alphabet’s board of directors in January, 2018, and will become the company’s technical advisor. He’ll also continue to serve on Alphabet’s board.

Hired as CEO by Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 2001 when the web company was pretty much starting out, Schmidt brought with him years of corporate experience gained at Sun Microsystems and Novell that enabled him to help grow the fledgling company into the behemoth that it is today.

In 2011, 62-year-old Schmidt switched to the position of executive chairman, before moving to Alphabet in the same role when it was established as Google’s parent company in 2015.

Specific reasons for Schmidt’s departure haven’t been given, but in a tweet he said he was looking forward to spending more time pursuing other interests while continuing to help out at Alphabet:

“After ten years as CEO and seven as Executive Chairman, I can’t wait to dive into the latest in science, technology, and philanthropy,” Schmidt wrote. “I look forward to working with Larry and Sergey on our future here at Alphabet.”

After ten years as CEO and seven as Executive Chairman, I can’t wait to dive into the latest in science, technology, and philanthropy. I look forward to working with Larry and Sergey on our future here at Alphabet.

— Eric Schmidt (@ericschmidt) December 21, 2017

In a statement posted online, he offered a little more information regarding his imminent departure from Alphabet as executive chairman, saying, “Larry, Sergey, Sundar [Sundar Pichai, Google’s current CEO] and I all believe that the time is right in Alphabet’s evolution for this transition. The Alphabet structure is working well, and Google and the Other Bets are thriving.”

Schmidt added, “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.”

Larry Page, who with partner Brin made the decision to hire Schmidt all those years ago, praised him for providing them “with business and engineering expertise and a clear vision about the future of technology.”

Page confirmed Schmidt will be helping Alphabet as a technical advisor “on science and technology issues,” adding that he’s “incredibly excited about the progress our companies are making, and about the strong leaders who are driving that innovation.”

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