Eric Schmidt steps down as Alphabet's Executive Chairman

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Eric Schmidt will step down as executive chairman of Google parent company Alphabet in January, after 16 years as the internet giant's most recognisable face.

Schmidt will continue to serve on the board in his new role, the company has confirmed, while his former seat will be filled by an as-yet unnamed non-executive chair. "The Alphabet structure is working well, and Google and the Other Bets are thriving", in his statement regarding his stepping down from the role.

"After ten years as CEO and seven as Executive Chairman, I can't wait to dive into the latest in science, technology, and philanthropy".

It is certainly an end of an era.

For years, Schmidt served as a buffer for the company, smoothing relationships with regulators and the broader tech industry, said John Battelle, author of "The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture". He helped take Google public in 2004 and built it into a colossus.

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He will transition to a role of technical advisor to the company while continuing to serve on the company board.

Schmidt has been a key figure at Google for some 17 years.

"I'm incredibly excited about the progress our companies are making, and about the strong leaders who are driving that innovation", he said.

During his time at Google, Schmidt oversaw its growth into one of the world's largest companies, with revenue of $27.77 billion during the third quarter of 2017 and a market cap of $743 billion. Schmidt joked he provided the "adult supervision" to the Google team. In 2011, he became executive chairman. He also provided technical assistance to Hilary Clinton's campaign during the 2016 Presidential race. He made it clear that the company appreciated everything Schmidt had done for the company "particularly as we restructured from Google to Alphabet".

The group also owns the Other Bets unit, which includes the Waymo driverless vehicle business and the Project Loon WiFi-enabled weather balloon venture.

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