For the record many people saw our tweets and immediately tweeted back or emailed when they observed that we were saying “Eric Schmidt elevated to Executive Chairman” while all the other media sites, except Mike Arrington at Tech Crunch, said that Eric was stepping down, fired, or demoted. In the corporate world on the corporate ladder Chairman is as high as it gets. Going back to the 80’s and the movie 9to5 do you remember Dabney Coleman’s character was the boss, maybe not the CEO by name, but the Chairman was the one Dolly Parton and her two partners (not boobs her partners) were trying to impress.
Having said all that, after 10 years of working together Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt are restoring things to the way they were when Schmidt joined Google in March of 2001 as, Chairman. At that time Larry Page and Sergey Brin were Co-CEO’s of sorts.
The business card above was Larry Page’s card in 1998. We got it from a reddit piece about a guy who didn’t invest in Google in their first round of financing. At that time though, some 13 years ago, Larry Page was the CEO. In March of 2001 they brought Schmidt in as Chairman. By August of 2001 Schmidt was named CEO and Page and Brin were named Presidents of Products and Technology respectively.
So this isn’t exactly new but boy things are different.
In 2011 there are a bunch of successful companies with founder CEO’s take Facebook and Zynga for instance. Mark Zuckerberg and Mark Pincus are both extremely focused and doing things their way. Brin and James have always had a say in what Google called the triumvrate last week however they’ve never been in the front. In fact when it comes to Android, Page has only made two big public statements.
The first was on battery life, Page said that if your Android battery isn’t lasting a day, well you’re doing it wrong. Last spring while speaking at Google’s annual partner forum called Google Zeitgeist, Page took a question from the audience about Android’s battery life. He replied saying that if the battery wasn’t lasting all day then the apps the user downloaded were causing problems and they weren’t doing it right. He also said that at the end of the Q&A session he would personally fix it, maybe giving the person who asked the question a bigger battery. See the complete story here
The next time was at the Allen & Company conference in California in July last year (just weeks after answering the battery question) Page was responding to Steve Job’s accusations that Google had copied their ideas and their iPhone. Remember around this time things started heating up and the previous year Schmidt had resigned from Apple’s board.
Google had a great relationship with Apple at the rollout of the initial iPhone, using Google’s search in the Safari browser and maps in their maps app. At the Allen & Co meeting Page said that Steve Jobs anger was misplaced and that Steve Jobs characterization of the events leading up to Android was “a little bit of rewriting history.”
At last years All Things Digital conference Steve Jobs went on to say “They decided to compete with us. We didn’t go into the search business!” about Android.
Often times after a Steve Jobs tongue lashing a statement comes out from Google’s public relations team. We haven’t seen Eric Schmidt really go toe to toe with Jobs. Now though the landscape has changed again, Google is battling on two major fronts, Apple and Facebook and hopefully Larry Page will be the Google prizefighter and a face that can engage us all. We wish Steve Jobs a speedy recovery because come April 4th theres a re-new Sheriff in town.
And as far as Larry Page and returning to the CEO position, Steve Jobs came back as CEO of Apple at the exact right time after over a decade away, right in time.
Sources quoted in piece.