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Google Does the Executive Shuffle

Sarah Thomas

Along with its fourth-quarter earnings today, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) announced CEO Eric Schmidt is relinquishing his role, to be replaced by Google co-founder Larry Page. Schmidt will assume the position of executive chairman. (See Google Announces Q4, Executive Shake-Up.)

Starting April 4, Page will take over Google's day-to-day operations, and his fellow founder Sergey Brin will focus on "his passion" of strategic projects, as he said on an investor call Thursday.

Schmidt will concentrate "externally on deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach and technology thought leadership -- all of which are increasingly important given Google’s global reach," the company's release read.

He will also continue to advise Page and Brin. Schmidt wrote in a blog that the change-up was designed to simplify Google's management structure and speed up decision making.

Why this matters
Since Schmidt came on board at Google in 2001, the three have run the company as a team. Based on the trio's comments, they plan to continue to collaborate, but Schmidt says "Page is ready to lead" the company.

Google is coming off a strong fourth quarter, too, with revenues of $6.4 billion, up 26 percent from last year. It will need to keep up the momentum in 2011 as the iPhone gets Verizon Wireless in its corner and competing operating systems like Windows Phone 7 continue to come to market. Google is counting on its army of Android handset partners and OS updates to help keep up its aggressive growth agenda.

For more
Under Schmidt's leadership, Android was the growth story of 2010.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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12/5/2012 | 5:15:00 PM
re: Google Does the Executive Shuffle

Lots of talk around search and ad money, which - it's easy to forget is Google's main goal with Android. Search on Android was up 10-fold last year over the year prior.

12/5/2012 | 5:15:00 PM
re: Google Does the Executive Shuffle

Google's product SVP Jonathan Rosenberg says the key to unlocking mCommerce is to make it easier for people to search and consummate their transactions on mobile. He sees 2011 as the year it happens.

They didn't comment much on NFC, but said that when people complete transactions on devices, they become more trackable and significantly more valuable. Obviously, Google wants to see this happen.

12/5/2012 | 5:14:59 PM
re: Google Does the Executive Shuffle

I think that they really did work together on a lot of decisions or, probably more often, Page and Brin were calling most of the shots. More clear roles would simplify things and maybe speed up decisions. If Schmidt weren't still in an executive role, it'd be much more suspect.

Or maybe they were sick of Schmidt saying things like he thinks people should be able to change their names when they reach adulthood to hide the bad things they used to do.

Pete Baldwin
Pete Baldwin
12/5/2012 | 5:14:59 PM
re: Google Does the Executive Shuffle

So, what's the consensus on the real reason for the change? There must be something Schmidt wasn't doing that needed doing -- maybe there was a sense that the business was losing its focus on search?  What's your guess?

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