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In a move that has shocked the tech world, Google has announced that it will be replacing its CEO.
Effective April 4 of this year, Google co-founder Larry Page will become CEO, taking over for Eric Schmidt, who has been the company's chief executive since 2001. Schmidt will stay on as the company's executive chairman.
In a blog post announcing the management changes, Schmidt wrote that in his new role, he will "focus wherever I can add the greatest value: externally, on the deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach and technology thought leadership that are increasingly important given Google's global reach; and internally as an advisor to Larry and Sergey."
Noting that "the business has become more complicated" as Google has grown, Schmidt wrote in his statement that he and Google's co-founders, Page and Sergey Brin, have been "talking for a long time about how best to simplify our management structure," and looking for ways to "speed up decision making."
"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!" Schmidt wrote. "Larry, in my clear opinion, is ready to lead."
The changes mark Page's return to the helm of the company he and Brin co-founded in 1998. Page and Brin were co-presidents of Google until Schmidt took over as CEO in 2001.
Schmidt has made headlines in the past year with a number of controversial statements about privacy.
"Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it," Schmidt said at a conference in October.
Google Inc.'s top three executives agreed in 2004 to work together at the Internet search and advertising giant for at least 20 years, a company spokesman confirmed on Wednesday.
During Google's quarterly earnings call, Page, who will take over as CEO, had kind words for Schmidt.
“I’ve learned a ton from him over the years," he said, according to All Things Digital.CNN tweeted:
|@ cnntech : Eric Schmidt, Google's outgoing CEO: "It's been a great privilege to be the CEO for a decade."|
According to Glassdoor.com, Schmidt enjoys an extremely high approval rating from employees: 96%.
|@ cdixon : Founder becoming CEO: I guess the question is this like a Steve Jobs returning or a Jerry Yang returning.|
|@ jonathanglick : With Eric Schmidt out of the way, I hope that Google can finally focus on alternative energy and transportation.|
I'm not all that surprised. Eric has been at it for a decade, a very long time to be running a company, particularly one that has very headstrong founders in key positions of power. It's quite interesting that Google did not look outside its ranks for a new CEO, instead doubling down on one of its original founders. I think it's fair to say that Larry Page will not be a conventional CEO - he's not been much of a public figure for the past ten years - Sergey is the more gregarious and press friendly of the two.
Venture Beat's Owen Thomas writes he has heard "from insiders over the years that Page was eager to be CEO again."
He speculates on what Page's new role will mean for the company: "Page’s emphasis has always been on the company’s products. With his ascendancy, the company’s engineers will reign unchallenged — not that they had much trouble before."
We've compiled reactions from Twitter users, who are, on the whole, extremely surprised by Google's bombshell.
HuffPost Technology editor Bianca Bosker examines Google's CEO shakeup: Why scrap Schmidt and pick Page?
The LA Times reports
Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, who is stepping down in April, is planning to sell 534,000 shares in the company over the next year in a cash-out move that could be worth about 5 million. [...]
Word of Schmidt's plan to sell off a portion of his holdings in the Web search giant came in a regulatory filing alongside Google's fourth-quarter earnings report, both submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission.