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Google Co-Founder Page To Replace CEO Schmidt

January 21, 2011

In a surprising move, Google CEO Eric Schmidt has announced his intention to step down on April 4, with co-founder Larry Page replacing him as the tech company’s chief executive.

This will be the 37-year-old Page’s second stint as the California-based company’s top executive, as he and Google co-founder Sergey Brin shared the role from 1998 to 2001. The 55-year-old Schmidt will remain with the company in the role of Executive Chairman.

According to Alexei Oreskovic of Reuters, “Page’s assumption of day-to-day operations marks a return to Google’s technological roots” and will “make the company more nimble at a time when competition heats up with fast-growing rivals like Facebook.”

In a statement, Google noted that Page will take charge of the company’s day-to-day operations, while Brin “will devote his energy to strategic projects, in particular working on new products” and Schmidt will be “focusing externally on deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach and technology thought leadership” in his new role.

The company also says that Schmidt will serve as an advisor to Brin and Page.

“We’ve been talking about how best to simplify our management structure and speed up decision making for a long time,” Schmidt said in a statement. “By clarifying our individual roles we’ll create clearer responsibility and accountability at the top of the company. In my clear opinion, Larry is ready to lead and I’m excited about working with both him and Sergey for a long time to come.”

“Eric has clearly done an outstanding job leading Google for the last decade. The results speak for themselves,” Page added. “There is no other CEO in the world that could have kept such headstrong founders so deeply involved and still run the business so brilliantly. Eric is a tremendous leader and I have learned innumerable lessons from him. His advice and efforts will be invaluable to me as I start in this new role.”

The announcement came on the Thursday as Google reported fourth quarter net earnings of $2.54 billion, up from $1.97 during the same period in 2009, and revenues of $8.44 billion, a 26% increase from 2009 to 2010. The net earnings were the most for any three-month period in the company’s history, according to AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke.

“Q4 marked a terrific end to a stellar year,” Schmidt said. “Our strong performance has been driven by a rapidly growing digital economy, continuous product innovation that benefits both users and advertisers, and by the extraordinary momentum of our newer businesses, such as display and mobile. These results give us the optimism and confidence to invest heavily in future growth–investments that will benefit our users, Google and the wider web.”

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