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Google chief steps up as co-founder bows out

Google chief steps up as co-founder bows out

Reflects the increasingly diminished public role of Larry Page and Sergey Brin at the company they co-founded 21 years ago

Sundar Pichai (Google)

Sundar Pichai (Google)

Credit: Google

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai will replace Larry Page as CEO of parent Alphabet Inc, the company has said, reflecting the increasingly diminished public role of Page and Sergey Brin at 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!" Page and Brin wrote in a blog post.

Alphabet, which also owns self-driving car technology company Waymo, health care software firm Verily and several other businesses, emerged in 2015 as part of a corporate restructuring. Page had wanted to focus on developing those newer businesses, which collectively lose money, while leaving Alphabet's biggest and most profitable unit, Google, for Pichai to oversee. Brin had stayed on as Alphabet's president.

But Page and Brin, once regular sights at public events and at Google headquarters, are now seen much less often. The retreat into the background, particularly for Page as CEO, had drawn criticism in the last two years from employees and US lawmakers that demanded answers from him rather than Pichai about controversial company projects.

Page and Brin will remain directors, but will cede their CEO and president titles, respectively, immediately, Alphabet said. The president role will not be filled, the company said, describing the changes as long discussed.

Page's voice has been impaired for years because of health issues, but his condition did not play a role in the decision to step aside, Alphabet said.

"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 co-founders said. "We are deeply committed to Google and Alphabet for the long term."

Alphabet shares rose 0.75 per cent following the after-hours announcement to US$1,304.41.

(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Leslie Adler and Lisa Shumaker)


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