Google’s External/Internal Strategy: Eric Schmidt Out, Larry Page In [OPINION/POLL]


Minutes before Google’s Q4 2010 Earnings call a bomb was dropped… Eric Schmidt would no longer be the CEO of Google and co-founder Larry Page would be taking over. Talk about dropping a bomb. I quickly turned on the live webcast and threw together my thoughts while listening.

Eric Schmidt has done an amazing job as Google CEO so this move puzzled me. Was Eric Schmidt effectively resigning and transitioning the company over time? Not likely- Schmidt just published an article in the Harvard Business Review discussing how he hopes to work at Google for a long time. Then he made a post on the Official Google Blog promising to, “merge Google’s technology and business vision brilliantly.” And this was made even more concrete in the Earnings call when they pitched this as a strategic approach.

Larry Page says of Eric Schmidt, “The results speak for themselves. Nobody else could have done it better,” in discussing Schmidt’s tenure. Schmidt discussed how he’ll move from focusing on much of the internal strategy and begin working on external issues like partnerships and government, saying of the new CEO, “Larry is ready,” and “His ideas are clever.”

I got the idea he was clever. The dude created Google.

Went put in this perspective – Schmidt moving focus to external factors with Page working on internal strategy – it makes much more sense. Google will face increased scrutiny with government and regulators as they grow even larger and into more areas. They’ve got Google Search, Android, Chrome, Google TV, Maps and there is no doubt they’re trying to stick their hands in as many strategic pots as possible. For example, there are a LOT of things they could be doing with Google Voice.

Schmidt was actually asked this very question and he mentioned how they’ll be careful with each issue, admitting it will be a growing focus of his efforts. If Larry Page can help the company make quicker decisions internally, and Schmidt can focus on handling the growth with partners and government, than perhaps this is a very well crafted strategic move.

If you think there might be something more to this – as I did when I first heard the news break – perhaps you want to replay the call and listen to Eric Schmidt talk about his excitement to work more closely with his “best friends… Larry and Sergei”. Yeah, I don’t think anything funny is going on here.

Details of the move can be found on the company’s Investor Relations Press Release. A great blurb from that release:

  • Starting from April 4, Larry Page, Google Co-Founder, will take charge of Google’s day-to-day operations as Chief Executive Officer.
  • Sergey Brin, 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. Internally, he will continue to act as an advisor to Larry and Sergey.

Commenting on these changes, Eric said: “We’ve been talking about how best to simplify our management structure and speed up decision making for a long time. By clarifying our individual roles we’ll create clearer responsibility and accountability at the top of the company. 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.”

Larry said: “Eric has clearly done an outstanding job leading Google for the last decade. The results speak for themselves. 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. Eric is a tremendous leader and I have learned innumerable lessons from him. His advice and efforts will be invaluable to me as I start in this new role. Google still has such incredible opportunity–we are only at the beginning and I can’t wait to get started.”

The live stream seems to have sputtered out and refuses to load, but the bulk of my immediate interest was based on this huge announcement. We know they’ll announce some amazing numbers in relation to Android – that’s obvious – and we’ll bring you that info. But for now, I’m confident the CEO shift is nothing more than a strategic choice to allocate internal and external decision-making for optimal efficiency.

Sleep easy, Google-lovers, cause in Boondock Saints form I’ll ask you, “Where is Eric Schmidt going?” (Answer: NSFW but HERE if you’re interested)

I’m curious what YOU think of this announcement?

[polldaddy poll=4421147]

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. I think Schmidt was brought in 10 years ago because Page & Brin didn’t know how to run a company. Now they have a much better idea how things work, so giving them more responsibility makes sense. I am concerned that Schmidt will be more likely to take on outside projects since he will have less responsibility…but hopefully we’ll still get 100% from each of them….

  2. I personally think this is bogus Eric Schmidt was the man plus he had a funny name, i mean Larry Page is a funny name too but not as good as Eric Schmidt, this is gonna make Google’s plan to rule the world a little harder to accomplish, so yeah something fishy is definetly (dont know how to spell that could google it up but am too lazy) going on!

  3. I’ve loved Google for years now and never payed any attention to the residing CEO until Eric showed off his Nexus S. Unlike Apple’s relationship with Steve Jobs, Google isn’t run by a communist dictator (joking). Donkey Kong could be the CEO of Google and nothing would change. I feel Google is known for their free services and not their CEO’s renown presence.

  4. @jmax
    Google may be know for that but the only reason they are is because of their amazing CEO who does not get enough credit but I think that’s how they wanted it. Google is and will continue to be the best provider of free, new, and extremely innovative things. Where would the world be without them?

  5. Google is scared and losing to Apple that’s the reason for the shakeup. But it’s just a bandaid solution to the inevitable end of google!

  6. jobs, get off of this thread on off of this site loser. Only a 1st class troll would post a comment like that here.
    BTW, Schmidt owns your sorry ass!

  7. @jobs, ur high right or u a crack baby???? Just think about this where would the iphone be if it didnt have googles services from thw begining and where would it go now if they would be removed from IOS???? I dont know what to think about this but I hope its for the good of google. Its amazing the growed of android in the last 2 and a half yrs compare to ios 3 and a half. And hopefully it dosent all go to the toilet, well see tomorrows reaction on the stock market and see if it was a good idea or not

  8. A dweeb in a hybrid, I’m impressed.

  9. It would make sense listening to how Rob put it. Let the founders of Google run the day to day and let someone with wisdom and more knowledge handle everything else.
    Like hopefully Schmidt can focus on coaxing the networks to loosen up on Google TV.

  10. Wow is that poll loaded.

    How about: Eric Schmidt just got retired which is great news for Google as his vision of the brand was powerful but flawed.

    Maybe going forward selling out to the carriers is a thing of the past and Android users will actually get their damn updates on time.

  11. No material difference. Google was run as a triumvirate anyway and it has already laid down its big bets on the future (bets like Android, which I’m sure will win).

  12. @Steko
    Wow…..that would something if that happened. I like your take on it

  13. Seriously? How many second graders do we have reading this site? I understand U and R are easier than typing YOU and ARE, but it’s really not that much harder. Spell it out.
    Also, a lot of question marks, periods, or exclamation marks are really annoying!!!??!?!???!!

  14. I believe this is where Google has an advantage over Apple. Schmidt to Page is a better transition than Steve Jobs to Tim Cook

  15. hope he fixes android a lil bit set rules but with openess

  16. Interesting, i thought Sergey would take the CEO job once Eric moved over.

  17. I hope shakeup results in less adds on Android. I sick of these fuckn adds. If adds don’t piss off then new open source platform will kill Android.

  18. Jobs, shouldn’t you be in the hospital on life support?

  19. @Android Fan. Ads is how google makes money, and it’s the non-google developers that decide where to put them in their apps

  20. Sometimes a change like this is necessary when a big company has reached the overall potential and vision of the CEO. Unless they can continue to build the overall perspective from consumers, hedge forward evolving the company into new ventures, and continue to maintain the trust and support of the board the CEO becomes too scared to change anything. The company dies along with the relevance of there last great idea. Great move.

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