Eric Schmidt steps down as executive chairman of Alphabet, Google's parent company

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Eric Schmidt is stepping down as the executive chairman of Alphabet (parent company of Google), after serving in that role since 2011. Before that, he was the CEO beginning in 2001 until that role was taken over by Larry Page.

Schmidt will remain on Alphabet's board of directors, but only as a technical adviser on "science and technology" issues. 

In the statement announcing the shift, Schmidt said that he'd been focusing on those issues a lot in recent years and now plans to pursue that work in greater depth. Schmidt also plans to devote more time to philanthropy.

No reason was given for the sudden departure, which will likely lead to some speculation in the coming weeks. In his tweet announcing the news, there was none of the humor he displayed when he stepped down as Google CEO in 2001, joking that "Day-to-day adult supervision [was] no longer needed!"

"Larry, Sergey, Sundar and I all believe that the time is right in Alphabet's evolution for this transition," Schmidt said in a prepared statement."The Alphabet structure is working well, and Google and the Other Bets are thriving."

Eventually the board will likely appoint a "non-executive chairman," but no timeline for this was given.

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