The changes take effect April 4, leaving the current hierarchy intact through the current quarter.
Google can only hope the new pecking order pans out as well as the old chain of command has.
The formula turned Google’s search engine into a moneymaking machine, with the latest reminder of the company’s prosperity coming with the announcement that it earned $2.5 billion in the fourth quarter—the most for any three-month period in its 12-year history.
Page started out as Google’s CEO when he and Brin started the business in a Silicon Valley garage and kept the top job until the venture capitalists backing the company insisted on bringing in a new leader.
That led to the 2001 hiring of Schmidt, a professorial engineer who was previously chief technology officer at Sun Microsystems Inc. and CEO of Novell Inc., both much bigger than Google at the time.
After initially resisting Google’s overtures, Schmidt bonded with Page and Brin to form a brain trust that proceeded to build the internet’s main gateway and most powerful company.
Google now boasts a market value of more than $200 billion, a success story that has placed Page, Brin, and Schmidt among the world’s wealthiest people. The three men are Google’s largest individual shareholders—stakes that turned them all into multibillionaires.
But as Google has grown into a company with more than 24,000 employees, its decision-making increasingly has bogged down into a bureaucracy. The managerial constipation threatened to put Google at a competitive disadvantage as younger, more nimble internet services such as Facebook pounce on new trends to lure away users and advertisers.
At Facebook, 26-year-old founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg calls the shots in an entrepreneurial culture that has enticed dozens of engineers to leave Google to work for the social networking company.
“My goal is to run Google at the pace and with the soul and passion of a startup,” Page said in a Jan. 20 interview. “I think I will have time to do that, given the way we have split up our responsibilities.”