Why Google’s co-founders are taking a step back

Larry Page and Sergey Brin quitting day-to-day management of parent company Alphabet

Larry Page (L) Sergey Brin founded Google in 1998
(Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have announced they are leaving their respective respective roles as chief executive officer and president of the online giant’s parent company.

The two tech tycoons will remain Alphabet employees, keep control of their 51% share in the company, and “continue their involvement as co-founders, shareholders and members of Alphabet’s board of directors”, according to the firm.

Sundar Pichai, who took over management of Google four years ago, will take over the chief executive role. As head of Google, he was already overseeing operations that account for more than 99% of Alphabet’s revenue, reports the Financial Times.

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Pichai’s new duties will include running Alphabet’s “other bets” - new technology projects that include a driverless car unit and an experimental tech lab X.

Page and Brin have been scaling back their public roles at Google following the firm’s restructuring four years ago.

In a company blog post published this week, they explain: “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.

“Alphabet and Google no longer need two CEOs and a president. Going forward, Sundar will be the CEO of both Google and Alphabet.”

The pair add that they remain “deeply committed to Google and Alphabet” and “plan to continue talking with Sundar regularly, especially on topics we’re passionate about”.

Page and Brin are “notoriously uninterested in day-to-day business realities”, says the FT, and establishing Alphabet was a major step in allowing the pair to cut “free of direct management in the company’s main money-generator” and work on other new ideas and technologies.

It is unclear how the two men intend to spend their net worth - more than $100bn (£76bn) when factoring in Alphabet stock - “and neither have hinted at any form of philanthropy or at the possible founding of nonprofits or other charitable giving”, says The Verge.

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The duo are stepping back from a company that is facing a series of internal rows. Google employees staged a walkout last year after that it emerged that the multinational had paid the creator of Google’s Android mobile system, Andy Rubin, a $90m (£70m) pay-off to leave the firm after an employee lodged a sexual harassment claim against him.

The Google leadership has since been accused of retaliating against the walkout organisers, and faces a lawsuit over the firings of several of them.

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