Alphabet, which was formed when Google restructured its operations in 2015, now has more than 70,000 employees worldwide.
Eric Schmidt will step down as the executive chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, the firm announced on Thursday.
Mr Schmidt, 62, will relinquish his role at the next board meeting in January and become a technical adviser to the firm as well as continuing to serve as a director.
No reason was provided for the decision. Mr. Schmidt said that he, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, as well as chief executive Sundar Pichai, “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,” Mr Schmidt said in the statement, referring to the company’s ventures outside of its core search business. “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.”
It ends a seventeen-year reign at the top of Google for Mr Schmidt who joined as chief executive in 2001 when the company had just 200 employees.
Alphabet, which was formed when Google restructured its operations in 2015, now has more than 70,000 employees worldwide, and owns Google Search, Maps, Ads, Gmail, Android, Chrome, and YouTube.
He was brought in to guide founders Mr Page and Mr Brin, who were both then in their 20s and has guided the company through its stock market flotation in 2004, its acquisition of YouTube in 2006. He steps down with the company firmly in place as the undisputed leader in search and online advertising worldwide.
The move signals the shift to a new generation of leaders at Google, including Mr Pichai.
“He did a lot of that important public-facing work on behalf of the company,” John Battelle, author of “The Search”, a book about Google, told The New York Times.
“At a moment when the world needs to have more conversations with Google about its growing power and influence, my question is not why is Eric stepping down.
It’s who is going to fill the void.”