Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the Stanford students who founded Google as a research project 21 years ago, are stepping back from their day-to-day roles at tech holding company Alphabet, bringing the curtain down on one of the most successful management double-acts in history.
However, the duo, who between them control more than 51 per cent of the votes in Alphabet through a special class stock, will “continue their involvement as co-founders, shareholders and members of Alphabet’s Board of Directors,” the company said.
The shake-up will see Sundar Pichai, who took over management of the Google internet business four years ago, also take on the chief executive position at Alphabet. As head of the search business, he already had authority over operations that accounted for more than 99 per cent of Alphabet’s revenues.
As head of Alphabet, he will also take over the running of the company’s “other bets” — a collection of “moon shot” technology projects that include the Waymo driverless car unit and Calico, a healthcare company set up to tackle illnesses that are the most common cause of death.
In a public letter announcing the change, Mr Page and Mr Brin did not give specific reasons for stepping away from the company, instead painting it as a natural progression for Alphabet as it becomes a more mature company.
“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!” they wrote.
The pair had already become a less visible presence around the company they founded. Mr Page, who held the title of CEO at Alphabet, has increasingly made investments in new ventures outside Alphabet, including a flying car start-up, while Mr Brin, as president, had also turned his attention beyond the core internet division.
Alphabet A shares rose 0.75 per cent in after-market trading to $1304 each following the succession announcement, against the backdrop of a falling overall market on Tuesday.