More than 20 years after launching Google out of a Menlo Park garage, Larry Page and Sergey Brin are relinquishing their executive roles at its parent company Alphabet.
Page and Brin are stepping down as CEO and president, respectively, of Alphabet, the company announced Tuesday. Sundar Pichai, the current CEO of Google and a longtime executive at the company, will take over as CEO of Alphabet in addition to his current role.
The cofounders will continue to serve on Alphabet’s board of directors. They also maintain voting control over the business, all but guaranteeing their ability to influence the direction of Alphabet with or without their executive titles.
“We’ve never been ones to hold on to management roles when we think there’s a better way to run the company. And Alphabet and Google no longer need two CEOs and a President,” they wrote in a letter.
The executive shuffle comes at a time when Google is facing mounting scrutiny. Regulators and politicians in the US and Europe have questioned the company’s size, data privacy practices and potential impact on society. Page, once the face of the company, has largely receded from public view.
Page has been absent from the company’s quarterly earnings calls, and notably hasn’t appeared at big tech hearings on Capitol Hill. In 2018, Page was called before the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating foreign election meddling, but didn’t show. Last year, Bloomberg Businessweek published an article headlined “Where in the World is Larry Page?”
Meanwhile, Page has been investing in flying car startups.
At the same time, Google is confronting growing tensions with its own employees. Last week, Google dismissed several outspoken workers for allegedly violating its data-security policies. Some employees quickly accused Google of trying to suppress its critics, as well as workers’ attempts to organize.
Pichai, who is known for his engineering talents and general likeability, took over as CEO of Google in 2015 as part of the company’s broader corporate restructuring to create Alphabet. Prior that, Pichai had held a variety of roles at the company, including overseeing Chrome, product chief of Google and head of the Android operating system.
As Google CEO, he has appeared on earnings calls and keynoted major events such as the Google I/O developer conference. Under his leadership, Google’s business has continued to grow and expand more into hardware and cloud computing, though the vast majority of its revenue still comes from advertising.
Brin and Page said they will remain “actively involved” as board members, shareholders and cofounders. They also said they plan to continue speaking with Pichai “regularly.”