Google Inc’s Chief Executive Sundar Pichai is set to replace Larry Page as Alphabet Inc’s CEO. Page and Sergey Brin will continue to distance themselves from playing an active role in the management of the company they co-founded 21 years ago.
“While it has been a tremendous privilege to be deeply involved in the day-to-day management of the company for so long, we believe it’s time to assume the role of proud parents — offering advice and love, but not daily nagging!” wrote Page and Brin in a blog post.
All three, Page, Brin and Pichai, share the same vision of emphasizing on the development of artificial intelligence software to make web searching and other tasks faster; Pichai, a long-time product leader has increased efforts in the company to make such technology available globally.
Their vision however faces unprecedented regulatory scrutiny, with governments across five continents demanding better safeguards, less anti-competitive conduct as well as increased payment of taxes from the world’s largest online advertising company.
Investors have stressed that streamlining management could help Alphabet better respond to these challenges while continuing its focus on profits.
“This signals a shift away from the more fringy efforts – like Project Loon – and more towards a company focused on technology that makes money,” said Kim Caughey Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital Partners, referring to Alphabet’s internet-by-balloons business.
Page and Brin, who were commonly sighted at Google headquarters and at public events, are now seen much less often. The pair of 46-year-olds’ have retreated into the background. The stepping down of Page as CEO had drawn criticism from employees; U.S. lawmakers have also demanded answers from him rather than Pichai about the company’s controversial projects such as an experimental search app for Chinese users.
Both, Page and Brin will continue to be directors, but will cede their CEO and president titles, respectively, with immediate effect, said Alphabet. The role of the company’s president will not be filled, said the company while describing the changes as long discussed.
Although Page’s voice has been impaired for years due to a chronic condition, it did not play a role for stepping down, said 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,” said both co-founders. “We are deeply committed to Google and Alphabet for the long term.”
Both will continue to control more than 51% of Alphabet Inc’s shares.
As of April 2019, Page held 26.1% of Alphabet’s shares, with Brin at 25.25% and Pichai less than 1%.
Following the after-hours announcement, Alphabet’s shares rose by 0.64% to $1,303.
Pichai, 47, spent 15 years at Google, before rising to prominence while leading the development of Google’s Chrome browser. He later led product development and engineering across all of Google’s services for a year before gaining the title of CEO and adding with it oversight of Google’s advertising and cloud computing business.