Eric Schmidt Stepping Down As Alphabet's Executive Chairman

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Longtime Google leader Eric Schmidt is stepping down from his position of executive chairman of Alphabet, Google's parent company, but will remain on the board and expand his influence over engineering projects taking place at Alphabet subsidiaries, the company said Thursday.

In the surprise announcement, Alphabet said Schmidt would transition from his current position at its upcoming January board meeting. Schmidt, who started at Google in 2001, will remain a board member while also serving as a technical advisor to the company.

Outside of Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Alphabet's current CEO and president respectively, Schmidt has been the Internet giant's most-important executive over his 17-year tenure in Mountain View, Calif.

[Related: Earlier This Year, Schmidt Warned The Industry About A 'Pivotal Moment' In Security For Connected Devices

"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," Schmidt tweeted Thursday.

In a prepared statement, Schmidt said he had been spending a lot of his time in recent years on science and technology issues, as well as philanthropy, and would "expand that work."

Alphabet said it expects the board to appoint a non-executive as its next chairman.

“Since 2001, Eric has provided us with business and engineering expertise and a clear vision about the future of technology,” Page said in a prepared statement.

Schmidt added that the two founders, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, all believe it's the right time for the transition.

"The Alphabet structure is working well, and Google and the Other Bets are thriving,” he said.

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