No change at Google - here's why...

No change at Google - here's why...

Summary: People forget that Eric Schmidt was CEO in name only and shared power in a "triumvirate" with Google's founders.

TOPICS: Legal, Banking, CXO, Google

The departure of Eric Schmidt as CEO of Google has led to a lot of speculation about changes at the company as Larry Page moves back into that job in April.

But there will be no changes because there is essentially no change in the management of Google.

People forget that Mr Schmidt held the title of CEO in name only. The decision making was shared between the founders: Larry Page and Sergey Brin; and Mr Schmidt in what they termed a "triumvirate."

Here it is explained in extracts from Larry Page's 2004 Founders' IPO Letter:

Eric has the legal responsibilities of the CEO...


We run Google as a triumvirate. Sergey and I have worked closely together for the last eight years, five at Google. Eric, our CEO, joined Google three years ago. The three of us run the company collaboratively with Sergey and me as Presidents.


We hired Eric as a more experienced complement to Sergey and me to help us run the business.

Mr Schmidt always held the minority vote against Messrs Page and Brin. And there is nothing to suggest that they have dissolved their management structure beyond removing Mr Schmidt.

Mr Page gets to hold the CEO title for legal reasons but the power sharing with Mr Brin is still there. Both founders will continue to make the key decisions.

Why would we expect anything to change at Google if there is no new management?

The only thing that's changed is that the founders have regained some of their lost dignity. Mr Schmidt was brought in as CEO to provide the founders with "adult supervision" as he termed it. Google's chief investors believed that the coming IPO would do better if a veteran Silicon Valley executive was seen to be at the helm.

Continuing to have "adult supervision" ten years later when you are nearly 38 years old must be embarrassing for the founders. Especially since wonder kid Mark Zuckerberg has been doing great without having any official adult supervision. He's tripled the value of Facebook in less than a year and he's just 26.

This is the real reason Mr Schmidt was shifted, imho. And it's all plain to see in Mr Schmidt's tweeted announcement:

"Day-to-day adult supervision no longer needed!"

Topics: Legal, Banking, CXO, Google

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  • Change Maybe, but Facebook is a bad comparison

    I hate to tell you, but Zuckerberg is not running Facebook by himself. He actually has a full management team and in 2010 hired: David Fischer, vice president of global online sales at Google, as vice president of advertising; Erick Tseng, previously a senior member of Google's Android team, as head of mobile products; Matthew Papakipos, who spearheaded the development of the Chrome operating system, as engineering director; and data center manager Ken Patchett, who took on a similar role.

    Also, four of the top 13 executives at Facebook came from Google: Fischer, Chief Technology Officer Taylor, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, and Communications Vice President Elliot Schrage.

    So, the comparison isn't quite right. In fact, Zuckerberg has misstepped a lot with his wanting to share everyone's personal data. It's not very often that a company can piss off half a million users every time they make a change because they did it covertly without transparency. Then they have to backtrack to go back to do it right.
    • RE: No change at Google - here's why...

      @k12IT I agree, Zuckerberg is not running Facebool all alone, he has plenty of help. But he doesn't have any official "adult supervision" in the way Google founders still have. Even Schmidt believes he is still the adult in charge, even if it is tongue-in-cheek it is not something a 38 year old Page and Brin would like to have said about them.
      • Age indicates nothing

        We have seen many times that no matter how old a person is, some will allways need "adult supervision".

        Because a person turns 38, 39, 40, 50 yeas of age does not automaticly endow someone with the skills needed to run a large orginization, no matter how much hands on experience they may have obtained.

        Only time will tell if Page and Brin have what it takes to successfully run Google.
        Tim Cook
  • No, Facebook is a good comparison. It does not really matter who holds the

    CEO title, that does not really tell you who is really running the company.
    • RE: No change at Google - here's why...

      @DonnieBoy It's not even close to a fair comparison because Google didn't have the management team that Facebook does. Mark depends on them for decisions, don't be fooled.
      • Obviously, Facebook is different, but, in any case, the titles people hold

        does not necessarily indicate what they are doing, or who makes the decisions in reality. This is especially true at Facebook and Google.
  • Finally, somebody that understands this was just for public relations.

    Nothing changes.
    • If that wehere true, why would Google be concerned about "public relations"

      Are you indicating that you believe they are worried about their relation to the public? That many have lost trust in Google, that their image has been soiled?
      Tim Cook
  • Here's what changes:

    Schmidt will depart Google within a year. That leaves the Google twins without the stabilizing force Schmidt has provided. (Well, sorta, kinda.)
  • There will be change

    Eric Schmidt took Google from a great search engine by a couple of college kids to a major commercial venture. He set the course for the massive spy engine that Google has become. Unfortunately, for Google to survive, they will have to continue spying on their users. That much will not change. The question remains, how much Larry and Sergey have learned and whether they will be more principled. Their actions in China indicate that they might be.
  • RE: No change at Google - here's why...

    Schmidt will still be at Google and still doing pretty much the same things he was doing, schmoozing and working on partnerships, and working with the founders:

    As Executive Chairman, I will focus wherever I can add the greatest value: externally, on the deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach and technology thought leadership that are increasingly important given Google?s global reach; and internally as an advisor to Larry and Sergey."
    • Let's check back in a year and see where Schmidt is, OK Tom?

      Regardless of all the nice execuspeak, I'm betting he'll be gone in less than a year. The clock is running.
    • RE: No change at Google - here's why...

      Makes me wonder why this public announcement now!
      Ram U
  • Don't...

    ...strain yourself on writing anything in-depth or overtly apparent.