Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt is stepping down as the head of Google’s parent company, the company announced on Thursday.
Schmidt has been with Alphabet since 2001, and will remain on the company’s board and serve as a technical advisor starting in January.
“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. “Continuing his 17 years of service to the company, he’ll now be helping us as a technical advisor on science and technology issues. I’m incredibly excited about the progress our companies are making, and about the strong leaders who are driving that innovation.”
Schmidt took over as chief executive of Google in Aug. 2001, a position he held for the next decade. The 62-year-old transitioned to executive chairman in 2011, with Google co-founder Larry Page stepping in as CEO. The tech giant restructured in 2015, with Page and Schmidt taking the same roles at Alphabet, the newly minted parent company. In a statement on Thursday, Schmidt acknowledged the decision had the blessing of Page, along with co-founder Sergey Brin and Google CEO Sunday Pichai.
“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 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.”
The search giant has turned into one of the preeminent tech companies in the world in Schmidt’s 16 years at the helm. He led the company during its 2004 debut on Wall Street, and oversaw its acquisition of Android and YouTube. Google raked in more than $27 billion in revenue during its most recent quarter, and together with Facebook, pulls in more than 85 percent of all new internet ad sales. Alphabet currently sports the second largest market cap behind Apple, with a value of $741 billion.
Alphabet’s board plans on appointing a non-executive chairman, according to its statement.