Schmidt Steps Down As Google CEO, Page To Take Over

Google CEO Eric Schmidt stepped down as the search giant's top spot on Thursday, passing the CEO torch to Google co-founder Larry Page, who will take the reins in April.

Schmidt announced he is stepping down as Google's CEO in a blog post. Schmidt joined Google as its board chairman in March 2001 and was named CEO in August of that year.

"…as Google has grown, managing the business has become more complicated. So Larry, Sergey [Brin] and I have been talking for a long time about how best to simplify our management structure and speed up decision making -- and over the holidays we decided now was the right moment to make some changes to the way we are structured," Schmidt wrote.

In a less formal post from Schmidt's Twitter account, and a jab at Google's perceived youthful spirit, Schmidt simply wrote: "Day-to-day adult supervision no longer needed!" with a link to his blog post.

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Schmidt said that he will stay on as executive chairman, where he will focus externally on deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships. He will also still focus on government outreach and technology thought leadership. Internally, he will stay on as an advisor to Page and Brin.

In his 10 years as CEO, Schmidt has grown Google into a more than $20 billion enterprise with more than 24,000 employees globally and has launched the company into dozens of adjacent markets. Schmidt made Google a smartphone contender with the Google Android platform, brought YouTube into the fold and launched a cloud computing strategy that has made Google a full-fledged major cloud player. Page will lead product development and technology strategy, and take over day-to-day operations as CEO come April 4, a position in which Page will focus on merging Google's technology and business vision.

Page's Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, will focus on strategic projects and new products with the title of co-founder.

"For the last 10 years, we have all been equally involved in making decisions," Schmidt said of himself, Page and Brin. "This triumvirate approach has real benefits in terms of shared wisdom, and we will continue to discuss the big decisions among the three of us. But we have also agreed to clarify our individual roles so there’s clear responsibility and accountability at the top of the company."

Schmidt announced leaving the CEO post as Google announced its fourth quarter earnings, which saw fourth quarter revenue of $8.44 billion, an increase of 26 percent over the year prior. Google closed out fiscal 2010 with revenue of $29.3 billion.

Next: Google VARs React To Schmidt Stepping Down

Google's growing channel, which has hit more than 2,000 partners in its Google Apps Partner Program, is optimistic about the executive shifts. Schmidt recently said that VARs are 'fundamental' to Google's strategy.

"The new structure will be good for us as strategic business partners," said Allen Falcon, CEO of Horizon Info Services, a Westborough, Mass.-based solution provider and Google partner. "Eric's new role will provide more emphasis on external relationships and partnerships that will result in more value and support for the channel."

John Hallett, CEO of Atlanta-based Cloud Sherpas, said Schmidt led a full-court press to bulk up Google's presence in the enterprise and hopes Page will continue that push.

"Eric has always been a staunch supporter of Google Enterprise, calling it Google's 'next billion dollar business,'" Hallett said. "While we're sad to see him step down as CEO, we're glad that he will remain on board as executive chairman to drive deals and partnerships. We're also glad to see Larry step into this role. Engineering has always been at the core of Google's culture and we're looking forward to seeing how Larry fuses Google's technology and business vision."

Schmidt said the new executive structure will help Google grow into the future.

"We are confident that this focus will serve Google and our users well in the future," he wrote. "Larry, Sergey and I have worked exceptionally closely together for over a decade -- and we anticipate working together for a long time to come."