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Why Eric Schmidt Is Stepping Down as Alphabet’s Executive Chairman

Eric Schmidt, the former Google CEO, is stepping down as executive chairman of Alphabet, though he will remain on the board, the company announced Thursday. Leaving the post after 17 years, Schmidt will remain with the company as a technical advisor in science and technology issues.

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

Larry Page, Alphabet’s CEO, echoed Schmidt’s claim that the time is right for other leaders to contribute to the company’s future. “Since 2001, Eric has provided us with business and engineering expertise and a clear vision about the future of technology,” said Larry Page, CEO of Alphabet (GOOG). “I’m incredibly excited about the progress our companies are making, and about the strong leaders who are driving that innovation.”

Schmidt’s rise in Silicon Valley began with his work at Sun Microsystems from 1983 to 1997. Serving as Sun’s chief technology officer, Schmidt left the company to join Novell, where he was the company’s chairman and CEO until 2001, when he joined Google. He was Google’s CEO for ten years until 2011, and the chairman of the board from 2001 to 2004, and later from 2007 to 2001.

Schmidt also served on the board of Apple (AAPL) from 2006 to 2009, and left the position after Apple co-founder Steve Jobs believed Google’s Android phones ripped off the iPhone. According to Forbes, Eric Schmidt’s net worth is $13.8 billion.

Correction: An earlier version of this article had an inaccurate headline. Eric Schmidt is stepping down from being Alphabet’s executive chairman, but not from the company’s board.