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Google CEO Shakeup: Larry Page to Replace Eric Schmidt on April 4

Only minutes away before Google’s earnings call, the search giant made a surprise announcement: Google CEO Eric Schmidt will be replaced by co-founder Larry Page.

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No, it’s not an early April Fools’ day prank. Come April 4, Google
CEO Eric Schmidt will be replaced by co-founder Larry Page. The
announcement arrived only minutes before the search giant’s first
earnings call of 2011–and certainly, the executive shakeup had nothing
to do with earnings.

“We’ve had a very strong quarter,” began
Schmidt, highlighting the company’s revenues of $8.44 billion, up 26%
year-over-year.

Schmidt has been Google’s CEO for a decade, and will now
take over as executive chairman.

Page joined Schmidt on
the earnings call to clarify their new roles. Schmidt explained that
he’ll now be dealing with more strategic and external issues, and focusing less on
internal operations: customers, partners, government communication, etc.
Page will now be in charge of day-to-day operations at Google, and told investors that he’s studied closely under Schmidt for the last ten years.

“I believe Larry is ready,” Schmidt seconded. “It’s time for him to have a shot at running [Google].”

Schmidt added that the new roles will help streamline how decisions are made at Google.

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“Larry,
Sergey, and I spent a lot of time talking about how to run
everything. After a long series of conversations, we decided to make
some changes in the way we are structured and the way we operate
things,” he said. “Historically, we’ve always been running the
decisions together, and ultimately, it adds delay.”

The
two were careful to frame the shakeup as a positive transition. Page congratulated Schmidt on his new role, and it was said Schmidt
will be “elevated” to his new position. “How can we
run the company even better?” Schmidt said. “We think this will produce even
better results.”

We’ll have more for you soon, but in the meantime, here’s Schmidt in his own words.

When I joined Google in 2001 I never imagined—even in my wildest
dreams—that we would get as far, as fast as we have today. Search has
quite literally changed people’s lives—increasing the collective sum of
the world’s knowledge and revolutionizing advertising in the process.
And our emerging businesses—display, Android, YouTube and Chrome—are on
fire. Of course, like any successful organization we’ve had our fair
share of good luck, but the entire team—now over 24,000 Googlers
globally—deserves most of the credit.

And 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.

Larry
will now lead product development and technology strategy, his greatest
strengths, and starting from April 4 he will take charge of our
day-to-day operations as Google’s Chief Executive Officer. In this new
role I know he will merge Google’s technology and business vision
brilliantly. I am enormously proud of my last decade as CEO, and I am
certain that the next 10 years under Larry will be even better! Larry,
in my clear opinion, is ready to lead.

Sergey has decided to
devote his time and energy to strategic projects, in particular working
on new products. His title will be Co-Founder. He’s an innovator and
entrepreneur to the core, and this role suits him perfectly.

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.

We are confident
that this focus will serve Google and our users well in the future.
Larry, Sergey and I have worked exceptionally closely together for over a
decade—and we anticipate working together for a long time to come. As
friends, co-workers and computer scientists we have a lot in common,
most important of all a profound belief in the potential for technology
to make the world a better place. We love Google—our people, our
products and most of all the opportunity we have to improve the lives of
millions of people around the world.

Follow Austin Carr on Twitter.

[Image by World Economic Forum]

About the author

Austin Carr writes about design and technology for Fast Company magazine.

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