Google announced Thursday that Eric Schmidt, who was recruited as CEO in 2001, will hand over that role to co-founder Larry Page in early April.
In addition to running day-to-day operations, Page will continue to lead Google's product development. Schmidt, as executive chairman, will focus on external initiatives such as visiting customers, meeting with government regulators and negotiating with partners. Google's other co-founder, Sergey Brin, will focus on "strategic projects," and especially new products.
The goal is to streamline decision-making, the trio said during a conference call. They stressed that Page is ready to be CEO and that they are happy with their roles in the reorganization, which they said will improve Google's already solid financial performance, technical innovation and business growth.
They had better be right, or the move could go down as a management blunder of historic proportions.
When Schmidt took over as CEO almost a decade ago, Google was a promising but small, privately held company focused exclusively on Web search and without much of a business model to speak of. It was led by Page and Brin, two brilliant Stanford computer-science graduate students with little executive management experience.