Google CEO Schmidt 'nudged' aside as co-founder Page named chief exec

Whether it was a matter of Google no longer needing "day-to-day adult supervision," as outgoing CEO Eric Schmidt tweeted, or a desire by Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to simplify the management structure and merge the tech giant's technology and business vision.

Schmidt, who's been CEO since 2001, said he's stepping aside effective April 4, becoming executive chairman. Co-founder Page will become chief executive in charge of day-to-day operations.

"Larry, in my clear opinion, is ready to lead," Schmidt wrote in a blog entitled "An Update from the Chairman."

Brin, meanwhile, will give up his title of "co-president," focus on strategic projects, in particular working on new products, and will take the title "co-founder." 

Schmidt wrote that the three have been discussing how to "best to simplify our management structure and speed up decision making, adding that for the past decade the three have "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."

Today's news of the management shake up at Google caught Silicon Valley by surprise, but it was seen by analysts as a positive move.

"I think it's a good move. It (the triumvirate management structure) was always one of things that concerned us a little bit," Jacob Internet Fund's Ryan Jacobs said. "It should streamline the decision-making process. They're in a fast-moving industry."

Ken Auletta,who wrote "Googled: The End of the World As We Know It," said he didn't believe Schmidt was "pushed aside, but he may have been nudged."

Google, which reported strong first quarter earnings today (see related story), is at an interesting juncture in its business, under pressure from competitors like Facebook, which supplanted Goolge this year as the Internet's most watched company, and dealing with an unexpected failure in the abortive rollout of Google TV.

For more:
- see this National Post article
- see this New York Times article