Google’s co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin -- chief executive and president, respectively, of parent Alphabet -- said they would immediately step down and hand the reins to Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, who has extensive experience in engineering and search.
The two surrender control at a potential inflection point for the company as it faces potential lawsuits from former employees and regulatory backlash from data privacy challenges worldwide.
Some control, but not all, said Kevin Lee, executive chairman of Didit. "With Larry and Serge on the board of directors they have more than enough control over the trajectory of Alphabet and Google," Lee said. "They have a great senior team who can execute the vision."
Marketers had mixed feelings when they learned the news. "I assume it's about to get hot politically," said Marty Weintraub, founder of aimClear. "It doesn't sound very fun to be at Alphabet right now."
Page and Brin will remain as board members. The transition will not change the Alphabet structure or the work employees do on a daily basis. Pichai will remain as CEO of Google, taking on an additional role.
Indian-born Pichai, an American computer scientist, met Page and Brin in 2004 and then took the spotlight in 2015, when the founders created a corporate restructuring of Google.
Alphabet became the parent company headed by Page and Brin. At the same time, they appointed Pichai to head Google as CEO.
Alphabet positioned the transition at the time as a benefit to support a variety of subsidiaries, including Google. Then in 2017, the company formed a new holding company — XXVI Holdings — intended to finalize the evolution of its reorganization as its subsidiaries moved further away from search and advertising.
Pichai joined Google from consulting firm McKinsey & Co. He worked as the head of product management and development, initially working on the Google Toolbar, which gave those using Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox Web browser easier access with Google Search.
Pichai was also involved in the development of Chrome, Google’s browser, and oversaw development of the Android smartphone operating system.
“Today, in 2019, if the company was a person, it would be a young adult of 21 and it would be time to leave the roost,” wrote the co-founders about the transition on Google’s blog. “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!”