Eric Schmidt Out As Google CEO, Larry Page Takes Over

Eric Schmidt is stepping down as CEO of Google, while Google co-founder Larry Page is taking over the company just announced in its earnings.

From left to right - Eric, Larry and Sergey in a self-driving car in a photo taken earlier today. Photo: Google

37-year-old Larry Page is reclaiming the top job from Eric Schmidt, who had been brought in as CEO a decade ago because Google’s investors believed the company needed a more mature leader.

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.

Sergey Brin, another Google Co-Founder, will devote his energy to strategic projects, in particular working on new products.

Eric Schmidt will assume the role of Executive Chairman, focusing externally on deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach and technology thought leadership – all of which are increasingly important given Google’s global reach.

Of course, 55-year-old Schmidt will remain an adviser to Page and Sergey Brin, as Google’s executive chairman. On his his Twitter account, Schmidt wrote: “Day-to-day adult supervision no longer needed!”

“In my clear opinion, Larry is ready to lead and I’m excited about working with both him and Sergey for a long time to come,” Schmidt said.

Page praised Schmidt, too. “There is no other CEO in the world that could have kept such headstrong founders so deeply involved and still run the business so brilliantly,” Page said. “Eric is a tremendous leader and I have learned innumerable lessons from him.”

“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.”

The change in command overshadowed Google’s fourth-quarter earnings, which soared past analysts’ estimates as the company cranked up its Internet marketing machine during the holiday shopping season.

Google earned $2.5 billion, or $7.81 per share, during the final three months of 2010. That’s a 29 percent increase from net income of $2 billion, or $6.13 per share, in the prior year.

Excluding stock-compensation expenses, Google says it earned $8.75 per share. That figure topped the average analyst estimate of $8.06 per share, according to FactSet. [via Google Blog and Business Insider and MS NBC]

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