Google’s founders step aside as Sundar Pichai takes over Alphabet

  • >>Jack Nicas, The New York Times
    Published: 2019-12-04 04:17:28 BdST

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the two Stanford University graduate students who founded Google more than two decades ago, said they were stepping down from executive roles at Google’s parent company, Alphabet.

Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, will become the chief of both Google and Alphabet.

Page and Brin will remain directors on Alphabet’s board and the company’s two largest individual shareholders. Indeed, the men hold a majority of the company’s voting shares.

File Photo: Google's co-founders Larry Page (L) and Sergey Brin (R), Brian Rakowski (2nd L), and Sundar Pichai (2nd R) during a conference introducing Google Chrome. Reuters

File Photo: Google's co-founders Larry Page (L) and Sergey Brin (R), Brian Rakowski (2nd L), and Sundar Pichai (2nd R) during a conference introducing Google Chrome. Reuters

The move nevertheless signals an end of an era for Google. The two men have personified the company for more than 20 years, though they took a lesser role in day-to-day operations in 2015 when they turned Google into Alphabet, a holding company that also includes self-driving car company Waymo among its pieces.

FILE -- Alphabet CEO Larry Page speaks during a meeting of tech industry heads at President-elect Donald Trump's offices at Trump Tower in Manhattan, Dec. 14, 2016. Page and Sergey Brin, who founded Google more than two decades ago, said on Dec. 3, 2019, that they were stepping down from executive roles at Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Sundar Pichai, Google's chief executive, will become the chief of both Google and Alphabet. (Kevin Hagen/The New York Times)

FILE -- Alphabet CEO Larry Page speaks during a meeting of tech industry heads at President-elect Donald Trump's offices at Trump Tower in Manhattan, Dec. 14, 2016. Page and Sergey Brin, who founded Google more than two decades ago, said on Dec. 3, 2019, that they were stepping down from executive roles at Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Sundar Pichai, Google's chief executive, will become the chief of both Google and Alphabet. (Kevin Hagen/The New York Times)

Since then, they have spent more time overseeing a variety of so-called other bets, like life-extension technology, while Pichai ran Google and its enormous search and advertising business.

“Today, in 2019, if the company was a person, it would be a young adult of 21 and it would be time to leave the roost,” the founders wrote in a public letter Tuesday. “While it has been a tremendous privilege to be deeply involved in the day-to-day management of the company for so long, we believe it’s time to assume the role of proud parents — offering advice and love, but not daily nagging!”

FILE -- Sergey Brin wearing Google Glass during the company's conference in San Francisco, June 27, 2012. Larry Page and Brin, who founded Google more than two decades ago, said on Dec. 3, 2019, that they were stepping down from executive roles at Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Sundar Pichai, Google's chief executive, will become the chief of both Google and Alphabet. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)

FILE -- Sergey Brin wearing Google Glass during the company's conference in San Francisco, June 27, 2012. Larry Page and Brin, who founded Google more than two decades ago, said on Dec. 3, 2019, that they were stepping down from executive roles at Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Sundar Pichai, Google's chief executive, will become the chief of both Google and Alphabet. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)

The move also confirms the ascendancy of Pichai as one of tech’s most powerful people. While he has run the core Google business for four years, he still reported to Page, Alphabet’s chief executive, and Brin, its president.

Now he is the sole executive in charge of a company that has giant businesses in search, advertising, maps, smartphone software and online video, as well as a variety of fledgling bets in far-off areas like drone deliveries and internet-beaming balloons.

©2019 The New York Times Company