Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who cofounded Google in 1998, are stepping down from their day-to-day roles at Google’s parent company, Alphabet, and handing leadership responsibility to Sundar Pichai, who will serve as CEO of both Google and Alphabet moving forward.
Previously, Page served as CEO of Alphabet and Brin served as president. Both Page and Brin will continue as members of Alphabet’s board of directors, according to a letter published by the two cofounders today. They will also retain a majority of voting power over company decisions.
“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,” Page and Brin wrote.
Pichai reassured employees in a companywide email on Tuesday: “I will continue to be very focused on Google and the deep work we’re doing to push the boundaries of computing and build a more helpful Google for everyone.”
Following the news, Google shares rose in after-hours trading.
Over the past few years, Page and Brin have been increasingly less visible at Alphabet and Google. Earlier this year, the pair scaled back their appearances at the company’s weekly “TGIF” town hall meetings amid a parade of scandals and employee unrest over harassment, military contracts, censorship, and unfair labor practices. Executives have since cancelled those weekly meetings as relationships with part of its workforce have continued to deteriorate.
Since joining Google in 2004, Pichai has overseen the development of Google’s most consequential software products, including Chrome, Drive, Gmail, and Maps. In 2013, Pichai took over Android, Google’s mobile operating system, from Andy Rubin during a pivotal shift in computing from desktop to phones. Earlier this year, Pichai announced that Android is the most-used operating system, with 2.5 billion active devices worldwide.
Rubin, who created Android, was dismissed in 2014 over sexual misconduct allegations and was paid a $90 million exit package that inspired outrage among Google’s rank and file.
Google began as a search company formed in the garage of Susan Wojcicki, who now serves as CEO of YouTube. Its early days were defined by idealism and a “Don’t be evil” motto. The company filed an atypical auction-style initial public offering in 2004, seeking to raise $2.7 billion. By the end of its first day of trading, the company was worth $27 billion. Two years later, Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion. Over the next decade, it would direct resources toward forward-looking “moonshot projects” like balloon-powered internet and self-driving cars.
In 2015, Google renamed itself “Alphabet,” a holding company in which the main search and advertising business became a subsidiary separate from its other operations. “Don’t be evil,” the company’s initial motto was changed to “Do the right thing” after the reorganization. Alphabet’s market capitalization as of Tuesday was more than $890 billion.