Management shakeups are a way of life in Silicon Valley, but today's unexpected announcement by Google is more like an earthquake than a shakeup. On April 4th, long-time CEO Eric Schmidt will become Executive Chairman and co-founder Larry Page will take his place as CEO. Sergey Brin will remain co-founder.
According to a statement by Schmidt:
For the last 10 years, we have all been equally involved in making decisions. This triumvirate approach has real benefits in terms of shared wisdom, and we will continue to discuss the big decisions among the three of us. But we have also agreed to clarify our individual roles so there's clear responsibility and accountability at the top of the company.The big question, of course, is whether Schmidt's high level of confidence in Page is justified or not. I don't have a crystal ball, but I have drawn three conclusions from Google's announcement:
Larry will now lead product development and technology strategy, his greatest strengths, and starting from April 4 he will take charge of our day-to-day operations as Google's Chief Executive Officer. In this new role I know he will merge Google's technology and business vision brilliantly. I am enormously proud of my last decade as CEO, and I am certain that the next 10 years under Larry will be even better! Larry, in my clear opinion, is ready to lead.
- I agree with the move to dissolve the triumvirate at the top. Clear responsibility and accountability is a good thing. Moreover, I've never been a fan of two, three, or any number of executives in-a-box, as we like to call them around these parts. Of course, it seems to have worked for Google up to now, but they're changing for a reason, and I applaud that.
- I could be wrong, but it certainly seems like Page is no longer content to share the limelight with Schmidt and Brin. In other words, he wants to be Google's equivalent of Steve Jobs - a founding CEO. I don't blame him. I mean, wouldn't you want to run the company you founded? Anyway, I guess that would make Brin the equivalent of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Not a bad gig.
- As for whether Page is "ready to lead" one of America's great companies in today's hyper and globally competitive, super fast-paced high-tech industry, competing with the likes of Apple and Microsoft, I'm not entirely sure. I don't know Larry. But another Silicon Valley founder-turned-CEO, Yahoo's Jerry Yang, didn't turn out so well, to say the least. I guess time will tell.
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