Ex-Google CEO quits Alphabet board

SAN FRANCISCO • Eric Schmidt (picture), the former CEO of Google Inc and one of the largest stakeholders in parent company Alphabet Inc, will step down from Alphabet’s board in June.

Schmidt’s departure leaves the technology giant without one of its most recognisable political advocates as it faces rising scrutiny about its size, data collection practices and influence.

Schmidt, 64, ran Google from 2001 to 2011, overseeing some of the company’s most enduring acquisitions and skyrocketing revenue growth.

In 2011, after co-founder Larry Page returned as CEO, Schmidt shifted to executive chairman. He also became Google’s de facto ambassador, handling relationships with politicians and pushing the company’s point of view in prickly global fights that Page and his successor, Sundar Pichai, have mostly shunned.

Schmidt is one of three men who control Alphabet’s Class B shares, which have 10 times the voting rights of regular shares. He was the third-largest owner of those shares with 8.6%, according to a regulatory filing on Tuesday. Google co-founders Page and Sergey Brin each own more than 40%.

Diane Greene, a board member since 2012 and the former chief of Google’s cloud-computing unit, will also leave the board, Alphabet said on Tuesday in a statement.

Schmidt and Greene agreed to step down during the board’s meeting on April 24, according to a company filing. Schmidt will serve as a technical advisor with a salary of US$1 (RM4.13).

Schmidt and Greene will serve on Alphabet’s board until their terms expire on June 19. The pair are leaving as the board is under fire for the way it has handled the departure of several former executives. — Bloomberg