Google founders step down from executive roles

Google founders step down from executive roles
Source: Getty Images/FILE

Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin will step down from their roles as CEO and president of Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, respectively. Google’s current CEO, Sundar Pichai, will become the CEO of both Google and Alphabet.

“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,” the duo announced in a Google blog post on December 3. “Alphabet and Google no longer need two CEOs and a President.”

Page and Brin said they would continue to be “actively involved as Board members, shareholders, and co-founders.” Although they are distancing themselves from Alphabet’s day-to-day operations, the New York Times reported that the founders would still hold 51% of the company’s voting shares, allowing them to maintain majority control.

A foreseeable split

Pichai joined Google in 2004 and became its CEO in 2015, following the restructuring of the company and the establishment of Alphabet Inc. Alphabet allowed Page and Brin to simplify Google’s operations and separated it from other unrelated ventures, including self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, and life-extension technology.

Since Pichai became Google’s CEO in 2015, Page and Brin have been less involved in the operations of Alphabet, multiple sources reported. The founders were not present at Alphabet’s most recent shareholder meeting in June 2019 and Google employees say they haven’t been visible on Google’s Silicon Valley campus for years. Page was also absent at a 2018 U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary hearing held to examine Google’s data and privacy practices – an event where Pichai represented the company.

From where it all started

Page and Brin met at Stanford University in 1995 and launched the search engine Google in 1998. The company raised $1.66 billion in its initial public offering (IPO) in 2004 and Alphabet is now valued at nearly $900 billion.

Google Search, the company’s core business, is the most popular website globally, accounting for 90% of the market share. Google’s Android software powers about three-quarters of the world’s smartphones and Google also owns a portfolio of other tech powerhouses – including YouTube, Gmail, and Google Maps.

Scrutiny in recent years

In recent years, Google has faced antitrust investigations in the United States and Europe. The company has been accused of manipulating search results, collided with its own employees over labor organizing, and has been known for its messy handling of sexual harassment accusations.  

“Some had seriously hoped Sergey and Larry would step in and fix Google,” Google Walkout for Real Change, the group behind the company’s employee walkout last year, shared on Twitter. “Instead of righting the sinking ship, they jumped ship.”
Following their exit, Page and Brin are both multibillionaires – “the epitome of Silicon Valley success as well as the embodiment of the American dream,” according to Forbes.