In a surprise move made during its quarterly financial announcement on Thursday, Google announced that it was disbanding its decision-making "triumvirate" of cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and CEO Eric Schmidt. As part of this change, Page will become Google's CEO and take charge of the company's day-to-day operations, Brin will focus on new product strategy, and Schmidt will become Executive Chairman and focus on deals, partnerships, and the like.
Google is portraying this move as a way to speed up decision making and simplify the company's management structure. But it's also pretty clear that the way the company is achieving these goals is by removing Schmidt from the picture.
"Larry is ready to lead and I'm excited about working with both him and Sergey for a long time to come," Schmidt claims.
"Eric is a tremendous leader and I have learned innumerable lessons from him," Page said, hinting at Schmidt's new role as an "advisor" to the cofounders, instead of his previous equal role in decision making. "His advice and efforts will be invaluable to me as I start in this new role."
According to a Schmidt post to the Official Google Blog, managing the company has become more difficult, requiring a change from the current situation, in which he, Page, and Brin have an equal say in all decisions. So now Schmidt has no direct role in decision making and will operate in a reduced capacity as advisor instead. "We will continue to discuss the big decisions among the three of us," he writes. "But we have also agreed to clarify our individual roles so there’s clear responsibility and accountability at the top of the company."
Schmidt claims the three are friends and will continue working together for "a long time to come." It's hard to escape the notion that Schmidt's role has been significantly reduced, however—raising the possibility that he will, in fact, leave the company in the months ahead.