Eric Schmidt Replaced by Founder Larry Page as Google CEO

Google (s goog) dropped a bombshell during its quarterly update by announcing an executive shuffle that will see co-founder Larry Page take the reins as CEO of the web giant, while current chief executive Eric Schmidt assumes the role of executive chairman. Page’s fellow co-founder Sergey Brin is to focus on strategic direction and new projects.

The management shake-up comes as Google announced its fourth-quarter results, with revenue coming in at $8.44 billion for the quarter ended December 31, 2010. That was an increase of 26 percent over the same period in 2009, while operating income came in at $2.98 billion compared to $2.48 billion from the year before.

Page’s move to CEO means he will take charge of day-to-day operations on April 4, while Schmidt will focus on deals, partnerships and government outreach. Schmidt said he will also look at being a technology thought leader while continuing to serve as a mentor to Brin and Page.

Schmidt said in a statement that the move was aimed at streamlining the decision-making process, which has been shared by Page, Brin and Schmidt, and that the reorganization will clarify their individual roles and ensure there’s clear responsibility and accountability at the top. Schmidt said he is confident in Page’s ability to lead and believes the changes will be good for the company.

We are confident that this focus will serve Google and our users well in the future. Larry, Sergey and I have worked exceptionally closely together for over a decade—and we anticipate working together for a long time to come. As friends, co-workers and computer scientists we have a lot in common, most important of all a profound belief in the potential for technology to make the world a better place. We love Google—our people, our products and most of all the opportunity we have to improve the lives of millions of people around the world.

Schmidt joined Google’s board as chairman in 2001 and became the company’s CEO later that year. He leaves just days after rival Apple announced that CEO Steve Jobs was taking a leave of absence to focus on his health.

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