Google Jan. 20 said it is streamlining operations, with co-founder Larry Page taking the role of CEO and moving current Google CEO Eric Schmidt to the role of executive chairman.
Google, which also reported revenues of $8.44 billion and a profit of $2.54 billion for the fourth quarter, said Page will take over day-to-day operations from Schmidt on April 4.
Page's responsibilities will include leading product development and technology strategy. Google co-founder Sergey Brin will focus on new products.
As executive chairman, Schmidt will focus on deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, among other things to expand Google's reach around the world. Schmidt will also continue to act as an adviser to Page and Brin.
"We've been talking about how best to simplify our management structure and speed up decision making for a long time," said Schmidt, who joined Google as CEO in 2001.
"By clarifying our individual roles, we'll create clearer responsibility and accountability at the top of the company. In my clear opinion, Larry is ready to lead, and I'm excited about working with both him and Sergey for a long time to come."
Despite Google's solid results for 2010, Page and Brin may feel Schmidt isn't adequately addressing the challenges the company faces.
Apple, with its iPhone and iPad, has proved to be a major threat to Google's designs for mobile computing with Android smartphones and tablets.
Social media has been a sore spot of omission for the company, as social network giant Facebook has racked up more than 600 million users while Google is still figuring out its social network plans.
It could be that Page, after receiving a decade of advice on how to guide Google, is simply ready to take the helm.
Page struck a gracious note in the press statement:
"Eric has clearly done an outstanding job leading Google for the last decade. The results speak for themselves. There is no other CEO in the world that could have kept such headstrong founders so deeply involved and still run the business so brilliantly. Eric is a tremendous leader and I have learned innumerable lessons from him. His advice and efforts will be invaluable to me as I start in this new role."
The news will surely cast a pall over the stellar financial results. The $8.44 billion in Q4 sales are a 26 percent boost from the fourth quarter 2009. Google's profit grew more than $500 million from the year ago quarter, when it hit $1.97 billion.