Google announced on Thursday afternoon that co-founder Larry Page will replace Eric Schmidt as Google’s CEO in April. The announcement marks the end of Schmidt’s nearly decade-long leadership; a period during which the small start up grew into one of the most powerful corporate organizations in the world. The announcement also preceded another prosperous fourth quarter earnings report.
New Job Roles:
- Larry Page: Google’s co-founder will take over as CEO on April 4, 2011. To date, Page has been the president of products.
- Eric Schmidt: Schmidt will become Google’s executive chairman and focus on partnerships, government contracts and deals.
- Sergey Brin: Brin will remain co-founder and president of technology and strategic projects.
Larry Page, 38, co-founded Google back in 1998 with fellow Stanford University PhD student Sergrey Brin. Young, idea-driven and inexperienced, Page and Brin brought on Eric Schmidt to be Google’s CEO in 2001 and act as their “day-to-day adult supervision.” [Schmidt tweeted on Thursday after the announcement, "Day-to-day adult supervision no longer needed!"].
Under Schmidt’s leadership, the company has had consistently strong financial results. Google reported $8.4 billion revenue for the 4th quarter, up 26% year over year. Net income surged from $1.94 billion ($6.13/share) to $2.54 billion ($7.71/share) in the past year, and is now valued at $8.09/share.
The reason for this executive change is clouded in mystery, although 10 years as the primary public figure of one of the world’s most iconic brands could have been enough for Schmidt. Brin and Page have traditionally maintained very private personas, while Schmidt traditionally handled the public pronouncements.
Although still wildly prosperous, Google may be opting for a younger version of itself in order to compete with social media up-and-comers like Facebook and Groupon, which remain in part so hip, because they are run by twenty-something year olds and not tenured Silicone Valley CEOs. Under Schmidt’s leadership, Google has struggled to diversify, remaining heavily dependent on search advertisement. With the war for mobile advertisement raging and Facebook’s boding success, perhaps Google is going back to its roots and recreating itself as a, idea-driven organization.
What impact (if any) will this change will have on the future of Big G? Do you think Page will be the CEO for the long term? Or is this an “interim” post until Google can recruit a new Chief Executive?