The Page Turns on Google’s Leadership. Googlebye Schmidt, Hello Page

by Jeff Wiener on January 27, 2011

Google co-Founder Larry Page

What’s old is now new again for Google, as the search engine cum mobile giant has announced that its co-Founder Larry Page will again be assuming control of the company following last week’s surprising announcement that current CEO Eric Schmidt will be stepping down.

But with most top executive changeovers of this sort taking months if not years to finalize, the announcement that Page will take control from the veteran Schmidt come April is borderline shocking.

The reality is, Schmidt had led Google to the top of the search engine, online advertising, and mobile markets, with the company making steady gains quarter by quarter. Under such circumstances, a drastic leadership change usually only comes after a major public discretion or a serious falling out with the company’s leadership group. But is this the case here?

Further, ten years ago Page and Google co-Founder Sergey Brin recognized that neither had the leadership skills or business acumen to bring Google to the top; now, a decade later, with Page returning to the role he once had, does he have what it takes to keep Google at the top?

Turning away from Page for a moment, it would be an understatement to say that the tech world was surprised to hear that Eric Schmidt was stepping down. Brought in a decade ago as a veteran leader in the tech industry, he was tasked with managing what Page and Brin had created, and like a wizened fatherly figure, he led Google with a firm and competent hand. I noted above that such drastic changes generally derive from some sort of serious falling out, major philosophical disagreement, or embarrassing public discretion, but nothing seems to be farther from the truth.

While many initially speculated that Schmidt had simply worn out his welcome, with continued friction developing between him and the two co-founders, Schmidt surprised everyone again this week by stating that he is planning to stay with the company as Executive Chairman. Further, Schmidt stated that he intends to stay with the company as long as he finds it challenging and exciting, meaning that he may very well be there for another decade.

So with Schmidt still planning on loitering around the Google head offices, how will this affect Page’s ability to develop and hone his own leadership skills? The question of his competence to run his own company aside for a moment, if Page is hoping to see Google flourish under his leadership, he’s going to have to develop as a strong dynamic leader, one of the market’s young go-getters. But will such development be possible with Schmidt constantly looking over his shoulder, with Page hounded by the latent reminder of the success Google had under Schmidt’s watch?

The question remains, does Page have what it takes to run his own company? For starters, Page has stated that his intention is to bring Google back to its roots, returning to an age where it was speedier and more nimble. But with Google employing almost 25,000 people and posting $29.3 billion in annual revenues, Page may find his retrospective project a little more difficult than he first thought.

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George March 8, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Did Schmidt cross the creepy line or he talked about it too much?

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