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Eric Schmidt to step down as Executive Chairman of Alphabet

Schmidt will remain on Alphabet’s board and serve as a technical adviser

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Eric Schmidt, the former chief executive of Google who played an integral role in Google’s rise to power, is stepping down as executive chairman at the search engine’s parent company Alphabet.

He will leave in January, and is taking on a technical adviser role for the board, Alphabet said this evening.

Mr Schmidt was brought in to head up Google in 2001, three years after it was founded and when the company had around $35m (£26m) on its balance sheet.

It currently has around $10.58bn in cash, according to its most recent filings, and it is one of Silicon Valley’s biggest technology companies.

Eric Schmidt to step down as Executive Chairman of Alphabet

Co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have in the past spoken about Mr Schmidt joining the company to provide “adult supervision”, with the pair having set up the company whilst PhD students.

Mr Schmidt served as chief executive of Google until 2011 when he moved to take on an executive chairman position. Whilst in a leadership role, he oversaw Google’s float on the US stock market in 2004, which raised just under $2bn, and its restructuring into Alphabet.

In a tweet, Mr Schmidt said he could not wait to “dive into the latest in science, technology, and philanthropy”.

He said, in a statement:

“The time is right in Alphabet’s evolution for this transition. The Alphabet structure is working well.

“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.”

Alphabet said it expects to appoint a non-executive chairman in the new year.

The 62-year-old has played an integral role in Google’s rise from a graduate student research project to a multinational tech conglomerate. Schmidt had previously worked at Sun Microsystems and Novell before being hired by Page and Brin in 2001 to run the company.

Schmidt served as chief executive of Google until 2011, when he stepped down but maintained his position as chairman of the board of directors. A 2015 corporate restructuring saw Schmidt become the chairman of Alphabet, a new holding company for Google and several other subsidiaries.