Eric Schmidt steps down as Google CEO


— 6:00 AM on January 21, 2011

Are we witnessing the great CEO exodus of January 2011? First Dirk Meyer gets fired from his post as AMD chief, then Steve Jobs goes on medical leave again, and now, the New York Times reports that Eric Schmidt is stepping down as Google's CEO. What's next, Steve Ballmer calling it quits?

According to the Times, Google co-founder Larry Page will regain hold of the company's reins in April, while Schmidt will stay on as Executive Chairman. Page actually served as CEO before Google went public in 2001—a time when the company needed, in Schmidt's words, "day-to-day adult supervision." Schmidt now feels Page is ready to lead, while Page himself told the Times he wants Google to be "a big company that has the nimbleness and soul and passion and speed of a start-up."

Nimbleness seems to be what the CEO switch is all about. The Times says analysts and insiders believe Google has turned into a "slower-moving bureaucracy" over recent years, so much so that some fear it may follow in Microsoft's footsteps. At the same time, companies like Facebook and Twitter are stealing the limelight, being viewed as the new cool places to work in Silicon Valley. "Scores of engineers and a string of high-profile senior executives" have departed Google, as well, like former VP Sheryl Sandberg, who now serves as Facebook's COO.

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