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Schmidt To Step Aside As Google CEO; Page To Take Over; Brin Shifts Gears

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Long-time Google (NSDQ: GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt is stepping down. Effective April 4, co-founder Larry Page will take over as Google’s CEO, while Schmidt will take on the role of executive chairman, the company just announced. Google says it’s making the changes to “streamline decision making and create clearer lines of responsibility at the top of the company” but there were no signs that anything was amiss at the triumvirate that has led the company since 2001. The news came as part of the company’s Q4 earnings results.

Google says that Page will now oversee “day-to-day” operations, while Schmidt will focus on the company’s external relationships including “deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach and technology thought leadership.” Sergey Brin, the other Google co-founder, will no longer be president of technology; he will work on “strategic projects.”

In a statement, Schmidt says that “by clarifying our individual roles we’ll create clearer responsibility and accountability at the top of the company.” He says that as executive chairman he will work with both men for “a long time to come” and says that “Larry is ready to lead.”

In a post to the corporate blog that went up at the same time, Schmidt wrote:

“… as our results today show, the outlook is bright. 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.

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.”

Schmidt, Page and Brin made cameo appearances to discuss the changes. Our coverage of their remarks is here.

More in our Eric Schmidt archives