Google CEO: Schmidt out, Page in

Google has shocked its shareholders by announcing that Eric Schmidt, its current CEO, is to step down in April and co-founder Larry Page will replace him in the chief executive officer role.

“When I joined Google in 2001 I never imagined, even in my wildest dreams, that we would get as far, as fast as we have today”, starts Schmidt in a post on the company’s blog, while also posting on Twitter that the move was no longer about needing to supervise founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin:

"Day-to-day adult supervision is no longer needed! http://goo.gl/zC89p," says Schmidt on his Twitter feed. 

Meanwhile, back on the official blog Schmidt was more gracious: 

“But as Google has grown, managing the business has become more complicated. So Larry, Sergey 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”, suggesting that perhaps the move was forced.

“For the last 10 years, we have all been equally involved in making decisions. 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”.

Larry Page, who founded the company with Sergey Brin, will now run the company in the CEO role with Schmidt moving to an “executive chairman” position.

“Larry will now lead product development and technology strategy, his greatest strengths, and starting from April 4 he will take charge of our day-to-day operations as Google’s chief executive officer. In this new role I know he will merge Google’s technology and business vision brilliantly”, says Schmidt before adding: “I am enormously proud of my last decade as CEO, and I am certain that the next 10 years under Larry will be even better! Larry, in my clear opinion, is ready to lead”.

According to the blog post, “Sergey has decided to devote his time and energy to strategic projects, in particular working on new products. His title will be co-founder. He’s an innovator and entrepreneur to the core, and this role suits him perfectly”.

According to Schmidt, as executive chairman he will focus wherever he can to add the greatest value, such as deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships.

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

The news comes as Google reported revenues of $8.44 billion for the quarter ending 31 December 2010 - an increase of 26 per cent compared to the fourth quarter of 2009.