In the last two years, a slew of new talent, including Sundar Pichai as Google’s CEO, Ruth Porat as its CFO, Susan Wojcicki as YouTube’s CEO, and Diane Greene as senior VP of Google’s enterprise business, have played a greater role in the firm and has been its public face.
In a regulatory filing, Alphabet Inc stated it has replaced Eric Schmidt from its Executive Chairman with board veteran John Hennessy, a former Stanford University president who is also one of Google’s first users.
Hennessy, 65, a computer scientist with expertise in chip design has deep rooted connections with Silicon Valley; he joined Google’s board in 2004 before the company went public.
Hennessy was also a dean of Stanford’s engineering school when students Sergey Brin and Larry Page developed Google and he was an early tester of their technology.
Unlike Schmidt who was an Alphabet employee, Hennessy will be a non-executive chairman.
“It’s a privilege!” said Hennessy when asked on the new role.
Another member who will be retiring from Alphabet’s board will be Shirley Tilghman who has announced her retirement effective from February 15, said the filing to the U.S. SEC.
Tilghman did not respond to a request to comment.
Schmidt’s departure as Executive Chairman ends a 17 year run in the company wherein he played a central role in building a promising startup called Google into a global technology giant.
He will remain on Alphabet’s board as an adviser on technical and science issues.
Hennessy’s chairmanship comes at a time when Google is coming under attack by privacy advocates, lawmakers and other groups stating that the search engine giant has too much control over how people connect with one another in the digital age.
Google along with other tech giants, including Facebook, have been blasted for allowing extremist contents, misleading news on the their sites and search results.
Alphabet’s peers in its biggest business, online advertising, have long complained on anti-competitive practices which could become more relevant with the firm collecting consumer data from its smart speakers, smart cars, and facial recognition software products.