Former CEO who grew Google into today’s powerhouse is to step down from board of directors
After 18 years of service to both Google and then Alphabet, Eric Schmidt is to step down from the board of directors at Alphabet.
Schmidt and Diane Greene will both departure from the firm after they step down from the board in June this year.
Schmidt was hugely instrumental in guiding Google from a tiny startup in California, into the global business it is today.
Alphabet announced that Schmidt would not seek reelection to the board when his term is up, on 19 June. Alphabet said he would remain a “technical advisor” to the company, a role he has had since last year.
Schmidt had stepped down as the executive chairman of Alphabet’s board of directors in December 2017, in order to concentrate more on his philanthropy work.
Schmidt had previously worked at Bell Labs and Xerox, and then at Sun Microsystems for more than a decade.
However he had a much less successful stint in charge of networking giant Novell from 1997 to 2001.
Despite that, Schmidt was hired by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 2001 to run a startup called Google as its chief executive.
Schmidt was the sensible one who ran the company, and his role was what all three jokingly referred to as the “adult supervision.”
In 2004 he successfully oversaw the hugely successful initial public offering (IPO), despite the world being hugely wary of tech IPOs after the dot-com bust.
But that IPO turned Google into one of the world’s most valuable companies, and Alphabet now has a market cap of $814 billion.
But Schmidt has been richly rewarded for his work. Indeed, according to Forbes, Schmidt is currently the 119th-richest person in the world, with a fortune worth $13.8 billion, much of which is down to his Alphabet stock.
Schmidt also guided the Android operating system during the key years of the modern smartphone era, and helped turn Android into the most widely used mobile operating system in the world.
Another Schmidt success was overseeing the huge corporate restructuring of Google in 2015, until it eventually became a business unit of the holding company Alphabet, whose holdings now include Google, YouTube, Nest and Waymo.
Schmidt remained as chief executive of Google until 2011 when he stepped down and Larry Page took over as CEO.
Schmidt also became something of a global ambassador and he travelled the world in order to provide input on technology matters.
He also negotiated with governments on regulatory matters, and was reportedly instrumental in convincing the US Federal Trade Commission not to pursue antitrust actions against Google in the United States.
He did however fail to convince the European Union on this matter, and Schmidt did have some other notable failures.
In 2014 he took personal responsibility for his company’s failure to anticipate the growing importance of social networks.
Another problem for Schmidt came when Google (and Apple) was hit with a class action lawsuit in 2011 alleging that Schmidt and Apple’s Steve Jobs had conspired to keep wages down by not hiring each others employees. The suit was settled for $415 million in 2015.
Google has also been hit with lawsuits alleging that it pays women less than men.
But there can be not doubt that Schmidt was instrumental in turning Google into the global powerhouse that it is today. And for that, he will always be remembered.
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