December 22, 2017 // 12:15 p.m.
Eric Schmidt, executive chair of advertising behemoth and Google parent Alphabet, has announced he is standing down from his 17-year role as the company's 'adult supervision'.
Eric Schmidt joined Google as its chief executive in 2001, bringing business acumen to the advertising giant founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin had created. Many in the industry joked he acted as 'adult supervision' for the pair, which Schmidt himself referenced in 2011 when he stepped down as CEO by joking that 'day-to-day adult supervision [is] no longer needed!'
While Schmidt left the role of CEO, he has been acting as the company's executive chair ever since - and took on the same role at Alphabet, formed in 2015 to act as a parent company for Google and associated ventures. Now, though, Schmidt is reducing his role still further - though it's not entirely clear why he's chosen to effectively end a near-17-year career at the head of one of technology's biggest success stories.
'Since 2001, Eric has provided us with business and engineering expertise and a clear vision about the future of technology,' said Larry Page, Google co-founder and chief executive at Alphabet, in the company's announcement to investors. '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.'
'Larry, Sergey [Brin, Google co-founder and Alphabet president], Sundar [Pichai, Google chief executive and Alphabet board member] 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,' added Schmidt. '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 will continue to serve on the board in his new role, the company has confirmed, while his former seat will be filled by an as-yet unnamed non-executive chair.