Sundar Pichai, 47, who has spent 15 years at Google, increased the prominence while leading the development of Google’s Chrome browser
San Fransico: Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin step down from active management of the internet giant’s parent, giving up immediate control to a low-key company veteran who must navigate global regulatory threats as well as employee discontent.
The current Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai will be replacing Larry Page as CEO of parent Alphabet Inc, extending a long retreat from public roles and active management by Page and Sergey Brin at the company they co-founded 21 years ago.
On Tuesday both Page and Brin wrote in a blog post about it and said “Meanwhile it has been a great privilege to be deeply involved in the day-to-day management of the company for a long time, we believe it’s time to assume the role of proud parents offering suggestions and love, but not daily nagging!”.
Page, Brin, and Pichai have shared an emphasis on developing artificial intelligence software for website search and other tasks faster. On the other hand long-time, productive leader Pichai has increased efforts to make such technology available globally.
But the governments of five continents demand better safeguards, less anticompetitive conduct and more taxes from the world’s largest online advertising company. Thousands of employees have protested, and some have even resigned, over ongoing uncertainty by Co-founders. Effective management could help Alphabet better respond to the challenges and focus on growing profits, investors said.
Referring to Alphabet’s internet-by-balloons business Kim Caughey Forrest said “This signals a shift away from the more fringy efforts like Project Loon and more towards a company focused on technology that makes money,” said Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital Partners.
Alphabet currently owns more than a dozen companies including self-driving car technology business Waymo and health care software company Verily, emerged in 2015 as part of a restructuring of Google.
Larry Page is known for having big expectations and strong thoughts on technological details. He had wanted to focus on developing that new business, which collectively loses money. Page left Alphabet’s biggest and most profitable unit, Google, to the similarly soft-spoken Pichai, who heavily delegates to direct reports to manage various product lines. Earlier Brin was Alphabet’s president, spending some time on robotics and other research projects.
But Page and Brin, once regular sights at public events and at Google headquarters, are now seen much less often. The 46-year-olds’ retreat into the background by both, particularly for Page as CEO, had drawn criticism in the last two years from employees and U.S. lawmakers that demanded answers from him rather than Pichai about controversial company projects such as an experimental search app for Chinese users.
Meanwhile, Page’s oversight job has largely fallen to Alphabet Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat for the startup businesses and Alphabet Chief Legal Officer David Drummond for the company’s two big investment funds.
Page and Brin will remain directors, but will give up their CEO and president titles, immediately, Alphabet said. The president’s role will not be filled, describing the changes as long discussed.
Alphabet said Page’s voice has been impaired for years because of a chronic condition, due to his health did not play a role in the decision to step aside.
The co-founder said, “With Alphabet now well-established, and Google and the Other Bets operating effectively as independent companies, it’s the natural time to simplify our management structure,”. “We are deeply committed to Google and Alphabet for the long term.”
After publicly stepping back, the co-founders still control more than 51% of shares. As of April, Page held 26.1% of Alphabet’s total voting power, Brin 25.25% and Pichai less than 1%. Alphabet shares increase 0.64% following the after-hours announcement to $1,303.
Sundar Pichai, 47, who has spent 15 years at Google, increased the prominence while leading the development of Google’s Chrome browser. Later he led product development and engineering across all of Google’s services for a year before gaining the CEO title and adding to supervise Google’s advertising and cloud computing business.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin are active in other ventures. Last year Page’s funding kickstarted a company attempting to develop flying cars, and Brin at a conference discussed a promising interest in cryptocurrency.