Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt to step down as executive chairman

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(Reuters) – Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) said on Thursday its Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt will step down from his position to become a technical adviser as of its next regular board meeting in January.

He will continue to serve on the Alphabet’s board of directors, the company said. (

“The time is right in Alphabet’s evolution for this transition,” Schmidt said in a statement. “The Alphabet structure is working well, and Google and the Other Bets are thriving.”

Schmidt will continue to serve Alphabet as an adviser focused on technical and science issues, the company said Thursday.

“I‘m incredibly excited about the progress our companies are making and about the strong leaders who are driving that innovation,” said Chief Executive Larry Page in a statement.

Schmidt, who was recruited to the company by Google Co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, served as chief executive of the company from 2001 through 2011. Schmidt was instrumental to growing the company from a Mountain View, California, internet search startup into a publicly traded, global business with multiple products and business units, former Google employees said.

“He helped them mature into the powerhouse business it is today without throwing away the uniqueness that was Google during those early days,” said Joe Beda, chief technology officer of Seattle startup Heptio and a Google employee from 2004 through 2014.

While Page and Brin would focus on the company’s technology and the product strategies, Schmidt would focus on how to scale every product to a global level, said Bismarck Lepe, CEO of San Francisco startup Wizeline and a Google employee from 2003 until 2007.

“Understanding how to keep and make your customers happy was important, and Eric understood that in spades,” Lepe said. “He was incredibly smart and incredibly technical which made him a perfect fit in the organization.”

Reporting by Sonam Rai in Bengaluru; editing by Arun Koyyur and Cynthia Osterman