Google has announced an executive reshuffle, with Eric Schmidt stepping down as chief executive to be replaced by co-founder Larry Page.
Schmidt, who joined Google in 2001, will stay on as executive chairman and focus on ambassadorial duties around deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, the search and services giant said in its announcement on Thursday.
Google's executive reshuffle moves Eric Schmidt (top), Larry Page (middle) and Sergey Brin (right). Photo credit: Google
The changes, which take effect from 4 April, will see Page take over the day-to-day running of the company as well as lead product development and technology strategy. The third member of the triumvirate, Sergey Brin, will keep the title of co-founder but drop that of president of technology, and will focus his energies on strategic projects, especially new products.
"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," Eric Schmidt wrote on the official Google blog.
Schmidt said that for the last 10 years, the three men have successfully run the company by sharing ideas and consulting on the decision-making process collaboratively, but that "clear responsibility and accountability" is now required at the top of the company.
"This is a sign of Google growing up. Their future isn't just based on creating cool innovations anymore; they have a massive business to run and they need to deal with grown-up issues like politics, regulators, shareholder expectations and so on," said Gartner analyst Nick Jones.
The timing [of the announcement] was clearly chosen carefully, so they can position it as a change made while they are on top, rather than waiting until problems arise.– Nick Jones, Gartner
"The timing [of the announcement] was clearly chosen carefully, so they can position it as a change made while they are on top, rather than waiting until problems arise," he added.
The announcement came alongside Google's fourth-quarter and fiscal year results, which revealed that the company had quarterly revenue of $8.44bn (£5.3bn), up 26 percent in a year-on-year comparison.
A Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Thursday revealed that on 9 December, Schmidt began proceedings to sell 534,000 shares of common stock in Google, worth around $335m. He will be left with approximately 8.7m shares.
Get the latest technology news and analysis, blogs and reviews delivered directly to your inbox with ZDNet UK's newsletters.