Eric Schmidt is stepping aside as Alphabet's chairman

Google's Eric Schmidt stepping down as executive chairman of Alphabet

Schmidt has been spending much his time on science and technology issues, as well as philanthropy, and his new role at Alphabet will help him to expand upon that work.

In a statement, Mr. Schmidt said that he, Mr. Page, Mr. Brin and Sundar Pichai, Google's chief executive, "believe that the time is right in Alphabet's evolution for this transition".

"The Alphabet structure is working well, and Google is thriving". The company said it expects the board to appoint a non-executive chairman to replace Schmidt. "I'm incredibly excited about the progress our companies are making, and about the strong leaders who are driving that innovation".

Google shares ended the US Thursday trading session a little lower, as the tech giant announced its executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, will step down in January.

Schmidt has been a key figure at Google for some 17 years.

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Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt speaks at the 2017 SALT conference in Las Vegas. The business will join Apple and Microsoft who are both huge companies with a non-executive chairman. He was employed at Google in the early days, by founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 2001 and served as chief executive until 2011.

Alphabet owns Google Search, Maps, Ads, Gmail, Android, Chrome and Youtube and has more than 70,000 employees.

His philanthropic endeavors include the Schmidt Family Foundation established with his wife and focus on challenges such as climate change and protecting the environment.

Alphabet's "Other Bets" businesses include self-driving auto company Waymo, and other technology companies such as Nest, Fiber and Verily.

Schmidt is also known to speak out on technology issues, expressing concerns about matters such as online spying and barriers to the free-flow of data.

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