Google shares ended the US Thursday trading session a little lower, as the tech giant announced its executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, will step down in January. Schmidt will retain a role as technical advisor to Alphabet, the listed holding company which Google is part of.
Alphabet shares ended Thursday 0.25% lower at $1,070.85. Like many US-listed tech firms, Alphabet has had a solid year. It began 2017 trading at $792.45.
“The time is right”
Alphabet made the announcement Thursday, a few weeks before it’s next board meeting in January.
“Alphabet Inc. today announced that, as of its next regular board meeting in January 2018, Eric Schmidt will be transitioning from his position as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors, becoming a technical advisor to the company while continuing to serve on its board,” the company said in a statement.
“Since 2001, Eric has provided us with business and engineering expertise and a clear vision about the future of technology,” said Larry Page, CEO of Alphabet.
“Larry, Sergey, Sundar and I all believe that the time is right in Alphabet’s evolution for this transition. The Alphabet structure is working well, and Google and the Other Bets are thriving,” said Eric Schmidt.
“In recent years, I’ve been spending a lot of my time on science and technology issues, and philanthropy, and I plan to expand that work,” Schmidt added.
Schmidt has been a key figure at Google for some 17 years. He was employed at Google in the early days, by founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 2001 and served as chief executive until 2011. Schmidt joked he provided the “adult supervision” to the Google team.
Then, Schmidt’s role changed and he became executive chairman and travelled the world. In that role, which he will step down from, he negotiated with Governments, spoke about the developing tech industry and promoted Google’s achievements.
The Alphabet statement detailed that it expected to replace Schmidt with a non-executive chairman at the January Board meeting.