Eric Schmidt will step down as the executive chairman of Alphabet, the company announced on Thursday. He will relinquish his role at Alphabet’s next board meeting, in January, and will continue to be a member of the company’s board and become a technical adviser. Alphabet said it expects to appoint another executive chairman.
“Larry, Sergey, Sundar and I all believe that the time is right in Alphabet’s evolution for this transition,” Schmidt said in a statement, referencing Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin as well as Google’s current chief executive, Sundar Pichai. “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.”
Eric Schmidt joined Google in 2001 to provide to provide “adult supervision” to the company’s young founders. During an interview, Brin was asked why he and Page needed someone else to run Google. “Parental supervision, to be honest,” Brin quipped.
He helped the company mature from a graduate student research project into a colossus. Schmidt had previously worked at Sun Microsystems and Novell before being hired by Brin and Page to run the company.
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. https://t.co/nVnZqMEHoI
— Eric Schmidt (@ericschmidt) December 21, 2017
He led critical initiatives like the Android mobile operating system and oversaw the 2015 restructuring in which Google became a business unit of the Alphabet holding company. Although, his tenure was not without problems. Back in 2011, Google, Apple and several other tech companies were hit with a class action lawsuits alleging that executives including Schmidt and the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs conspired to keep salaries low in Silicon Valley.
The company is also in the midst of a nightmare with the European Commission. In June, EU antitrust officials fined Google $2.7 billion for unfairly favoring some of its own services over those of its competitors. Eric Schmidt was also instrumental in convincing the U.S. Federal Trade Commission not to pursue antitrust charges in the United States.
During President Barack Obama’s administration, people internally referred to Eric Schmidt’s role as Google’s secretary of state. The former Google CEO has supported many Democratic politicians, and prominently represented Google on policy matters. He also provided technical assistance to Hilary Clinton’s campaign during the 2016 Presidential race.
Alphabet has a market capitalization of $741 billion. According to analysts’ estimates, it is projected to surpass $100 billion in annual revenue.